Lampwork Glass Beads, Playing With Fire: Suminagashi, Tracking it Down!


Several weeks ago, I was delighted to take a suminagashi workshop at my local library. What, you might ask, is suminagashi? Well, suminagashi means ‘floating ink’-it’s the Japanese art of making prints from ink floating on water.  The woman who was guiding us was fairly new to it all, but enjoying it so much that she had to share. A few hours later, I was hooked! Floating ink on water to get random fractal-like patterns is just plain fun! I’ve seen it recommended as a project for kids and I can imagine they’d love it too. But here’s the thing~ there is not a lot of suminagashi instruction to be had. I’ve started myself a pinterest board and have been adding everything I can to it.

Don Guyot’s pamphlet Suminagashi, an Introduction to Paper Marbling is available from Colophon Book Arts Supply, which also has some great suminagashi supplies. This is filled with great information.

Suminagashi: The Japanese Art of Marbling : A Practical Guide by Anne Chambers is quite good, with information gleaned from a number of experts she met in Japan.

The Ultimate Marbling Handbook by Diane Maurer-Mathison has a very informative chapter on Suminagashi as well, with information on making double prints, among other things.

The Little Book of Book Making by Charlotte Rivers has a short chapter by Ruth Bleakly with instructions and a few great tips.

 Add the information in all of these books together and you’ll get a pretty complete overview of most everything you’ll need to get started with you own experiments!

Other than that, there is the rare art book Suminagashi-Zome, a translation from Tokutaro Yagi’s Japanese instructions, published by the Heyeck Press in 1991. Unfortunately, it is a pretty expensive and hard to find tome. I’ve got my eyes peeled!

I’ve been experimenting with so many different things- types of paper, different inks, double dipping, printing on both sides… The list goes on! I’ll have to tell you results and what I think I’ve learned a bit later. In the meantime, the pieces pictured here are just a few examples of what I’ve done so far.



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