We’re sure you all loved the Paint Party shoot from Gather Events, so we’re ecstatic to share this marbled place mat tutorial shot by The Why We Love! This project will take at least two days — the first day for priming the mats, the second for the “painting” — but I’d say the results make it definitely worth it! Make sure to check out the video from Tower Films for a little extra help.

For this project, you will need:
-fabric (we cut a canvas drop cloth into 12‘x18” pieces)
-alum (not pictured; found at grocery stores in the spice section)
-2 plastic tubs or containers large enough for your fabric pieces to lay flat
-shaving cream
-hand spatula, ruler or any rigid material with a straight edge that is easy to glide across and
smooth the shaving cream surface
-acrylic paint in multiple colors
-glass jars or paper cups for mixing paint and water
-thin wooden dowel (you could also use a pencil or end of a paint brush)

marbled placemat tutorialsmarbled placemat tutorials

Note: this is a 2-day job as you’ll need to treat fabric the day before you marble it.
Directions for pretreating fabric: (not pictured)
Treating your fabric with alum is not required, but helps the paint adhere to the fabric.
Do this step the night before you plan to marble your fabric. It needs a number of hours to dry. Use rubber gloves when handling alum.
1. Fill a rubber tub with hot but not boiling water.
2. Add 3 tablespoons of alum for every quart of water.
3. Mix alum to dissolve.
4. Place fabric in tub and soak for around 15 minutes. Remove; hang flat to dry.

Directions for marbling fabric:
1. Gather all materials together in your work space. This process goes relatively quickly and
so it’s good to have everything near you.
2. Fill one tub with 1-2 gallons of cold water; set aside.
3. Pour acrylic paints into glass jars or paper cups. Water down slightly and mix until you
have the consistency of heavy cream. Place a straw into each of the paint vessels. Set aside.

marbled placemat tutorialsmarbled placemat tutorials

4. Fill the second tub with a thin layer of shaving cream.
5. Smooth the shaving cream with your hand spatula to create an even surface.
6. Take a jar of paint. Covering the top of the straw with your index finger, grab straw and lift
out of vessel to see the paint collected into the straw. Wave your hand about 4” over the shaving cream and release your index finger. Paint will drop out of straw and onto shaving cream surface. The goal is for the paint to sit on the surface of the shaving cream. Don’t release paint too high above surface or the paint will sink too far into the shaving cream.

marbled placemat tutorialsmarbled placemat tutorials

7. Quickly repeat with this and the rest of your paints until you have an abstract design. Set paint jars aside.
8. Hold your dowel and place one end into the shaving cream at the top let corner. Glide dowel down and up, creating vertical lines, all the way across to the right. Repeat horizontally. You’ll see a beautiful marbled pattern form with the paint in the shaving cream.

marbled placemat tutorialsmarbled placemat tutorials

9. Lay a piece of fabric smoothly onto the shaving cream, patting down gently to remove any bubbles and ensure that every inch of fabric is making contact with the paint on top of the shaving cream surface.
10. Let the fabric sit for a few moments until you see the paint seeping through to the visible side of fabric.

marbled placemat tutorials

11. Grab bottom two corners of fabric and slowly peel it away from the shaving cream. You’ll see that the paint has transferred onto the fabric!

marbled placemat tutorialsmarbled placemat tutorials

12. Place your fabric into the clean container with cold water. Still holding the corners, gently agitate the fabric for a few moments to remove the shaving cream and excess paint.

marbled placemat tutorials

13. Remove fabric from the water to reveal your beautiful marbled place mat. Hang on a clothesline to dry.

marbled placemat tutorialsmarbled placemat tutorials

14. You can “double dip” a new piece of fabric into the paint batch you just created to form a more abstract look and save on materials. Otherwise, skim the top paint layer off of the shaving cream and begin again at step 6 with new paint. Replenish the shaving cream as needed.

View step-by-step images from this tutorial in the gallery


Comments (1):

  • Claire on October 4, 2012

    Definitely a project for outside.. and definitely one I want to try for myself! I might make four to start with... then I need to invest in a longer clothes line I think! And for anyone who isn't used to being covered in ink and paint most of the day, I promise this will be so much fun - and you're guaranteed to get painty. Enjoy! :)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *