The Marbled Page


On 21 November 2019, the CMT hosted a paper marbling workshop. After enjoying the session on marbling led by the wonderful Sarah at our Living Well with Books conference last year, we set out to recreate the marbled page famously included by Laurence Sterne in his Tristram Shandy. There are some nice examples of Sterne’s pages  here and here

We practised recreating patterns commonly used for binding papers in the eighteenth century, including ‘antique spot’ and combing to create the ‘nonpareil’ design.


Crease marks in copies of Tristram Shandy show that the paper was folded to create the margins around the marbled image, rather than using a stencil to protect the margins in the marbling bath.  Once the paper was dry, the folds could be creased in the opposite direction to marble on the reverse.



We discovered that it is relatively simple to create margins by folding a sheet of paper and placing the surface to be marbled into the bath, but it takes great skill to take it out again cleanly!

Heavily scoring the creases allows the margins to be folded neatly behind the section to be marbled – making it easier to lift out the paper cleanly – but this increases the risk that the crease marks remain very visible.

We may not – yet – have created the perfect marbled page, but marbling is addictive and we may not be able to stop trying.


With thanks to all of our CMT members who were willing to come along and try something different in their lunch hour.



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