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The Art and Science of Paper Marbling


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This STEAM lesson integrates art and science through the process of paper marbling. Such paper can be used in many paper-based art projects such as silhouettes and collages.

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The Art and Science of Paper Marbling

  1. 1. The Art and Science of Paper Marbling Grade Level Middle and High School National Anchor Standard Create: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work Enduring Idea Artists experiment with forms, structures,materials, concepts,media, and art making approaches. Essential Question How do artists learn from trial and error? Pre-Test Activity Show students and discuss examples of artworks made using marbled paper. Ask what characteristics are shared by artworks made using marbled paper. Measurable Objectives(s) After students demonstrate an understanding ofthe process of creating marbled paper, each student will (a) successfully use selected media and tools to (b) create a collage cut from paper that incorporates effective use of the surface patterns of marbled paper. Motivation Tell students that today they will be experimenting with making their own marbled paper and using it in a silhouetted collage to create a mixed media artwork. Demonstrate all procedures for marbling paper and creating a silhouette. Assign a big idea or theme to be depicted in students’silhouettes. Resources & Materials The Art and Science of Paper Marbling, Art 21: Kara Walker, Beatrice Coron, Beatrice Coron, TED Talk,  Shallow plastic trays, large enough to hold 12” x 18” paper  Heavy white drawing paper, 12” x 18”  Black construction paper, 12” x 18”  Prang FREART Colored Chalk, set of 12 (large diameter chalk, like sidewalk chalk but with much brighter colors)  Pencils  Rulers  Scissors  Glue  Newspapers or drying rack  Access to at least one sink
  2. 2. Vocabulary Paper marbling is a method of aqueous surface design, which can produce patterns similar to marble or other stone.The patterns are the result of color floated on either plain water or a viscous solution known as size, and then carefully transferred to an absorbent surface, such as paper or fabric. Through several centuries, people have applied marbled materials to a variety of surfaces. Part of its appeal is that each print is a unique monotype. Surface Tension is the property of the surface of a liquid that allows it to resist and external force. This property is caused by the cohesion of similar molecules and is responsible for many of the behaviors of liquids. One example of this is an insect that appears to walk upon the surface of the water, rather than sink. Paper marbling works because the particles of colored chalk are not heavy enough the break the surface tension of the water. The chalk dust floats because it is lighter. A silhouette is a dark shape or image, usually black, outlined against a lighter background. The silhouette differs from an outline, which depicts the edge of an object in a linear form, while a silhouette appears as a solid shape. Silhouette images may be created in any visual artistic media, but the term was first used to describe pieces of cut paper, which were backed in a contrasting color. Cutting portraits, generally in profile, from black card became popular in the mid-18th century, though the term silhouette was seldom used until the early decades of the 19th century,and the tradition has continued under this name into the 21st century. They represented a cheap but effective alternative to the portrait miniature. A contemporary artist best known for her use of the silhouette is Kara Walker, an African American contemporary artist and painter who explores race, gender, sexuality, violence and identity in her work. The Art 21 website has extensive information and videos on Kara Walker at Anothercontemporary paper cut artist, Beatrice Coron,, has a TED Talk about her work you can view at Activity Sequence Set up a marbling station with the tray set into a large sink. Add water to a depth of ½-1 inch. After students have demonstrated an understanding of the paper marbling process, begin the hands-on lesson. 1. Distribute white drawing paper, black construction paper, pencils, rulers, and scissors. Have students write their names in the corner of each paper. Explain that while students will be taking turns to
  3. 3. marble their paper, they will be working on their silhouettes while waiting to marble and/or when they finish the marbling process. Encourage students to sketch out ideas for their silhouettes before they start cutting them out. 2. In turn, students workin pairs to help each other with the marbling process.One at a time, students choose three compatible colors of chalk and use the edge of a ruler or the edge of an open pair of scissors to very lightly scrape chalk dust over the water, trying to evenly scrape it all over the surface of the water. A pencil or wide- tooth comb can be used to gently create a flowing pattern in the chalk. 3. Next, the student should hold a piece of paper from the ends in a U shape,lowering it until the center of the paper just touches the water, and then dropping it completely. 4. The student should quickly lift the paper from one end and hold it over the water to drain. 5. Place the wet paper on a drying rack or sheets of newspaperto dry. Once the papers are dry, they can be flattened under some heavy books. 6. Students draw and cut out their silhouettes and glue them on the marbled paper once it is dry and flattened. SuggestedGuidelines for Differentiated Instruction Challenged Students Students on Target Students Above Target Content (Readiness) Teacher provides a limited number of concepts Teacher provides most or all concepts Teacher provides an in-depth study that goes beyond the fundamental concepts oftarget Process (Interest) Teacher provides direct instruction for each step of the process; utilizes small group instruction Teacher models what is expected; offers opportunities for individual and group investigations Teacher provides minimal or complex instruction; offers independent work Product (Evaluation) Teacher accepts a group-made product and expects limited contributions to oral discussions Teacher accepts a group-made or individual product (as lesson requires) and requires logical contributions to oral discussions that incorporate concepts of civil discourse Teacher accepts a group-made or individual product (as lesson requires) and requires leadership with logical contributions that stimulate thought and civil conversation with others Assessment Rubric Below On Target Above Target Media and Tools Demonstrates a lack of accomplishment through poor craftsmanship Demonstrates accomplishment through craftsmanship directly Demonstrates exceptional accomplishment and
  4. 4. directly unrelated to ability level; outcome shows careless use of media and tools related to ability level; outcome shows care and use of media and tools has been generally well attended artistry through a high level of craftsmanship directly related to ability level; outcome shows unhurried and careful use of media and tools Patterning Lacks patterning or contrasting colors in the marbled paper Demonstrates patterning and contrasting colors in the marbled paper Demonstrates originality, and significant patterns and colors in the marbled paper Silhouette Concept Does not demonstrate a connection between the content,media, and composition Demonstrates some connection between the content,media, and composition Demonstrates exceptional success through an artwork that shows a meaningful connection between the content,media, and composition
  5. 5. Student Checklist Student Name _ Yes No I produced a marbled paper that shows intense color, the use of three colors, and an even distribution of color and pattern. I created a silhouette with a specific concept in mind. I drew an elaborate silhouette with lots of fine detail. I used care when cutting out my silhouette. My final silhouette collage is carefully glued together. Student Reflection How did you use trial and error to create a silhouette collage using marbled paper? What is the intended meaning of your silhouette collage?