How does marbling work?
Are Suminagashi and Western marbling really both marbling – they’re so different?
Yes, they’re both marbling, because they involve floating paints or inks on water/thickened water and then pulling a monoprint from the surface of the water onto the paper or fabric. However, the materials used and the results obtained are very different.
Why can’t I buy two identical scarves?
All my items are handmade and one of a kind. Marbling is a nonprinting process, which means that the design is created on the surface of the ‘thickened water’ and then silk is laid over the top and completely picks up all the paint on the surface, transferring the pattern to the silk. Thus it is not possible to get two identical scarves, although similar patterns can be created if the same colours are used and the paints are raked or combed into similar patterns.
I can buy much cheaper scarves at my local market – and even on Etsy. Why do yours cost what they do?
Here are four reasons to start off with:
All my products are unique, one of a kind wearable art items, produced by me here in the UK, not mass-produced items created in factories where the producers probably don’t receive a living wage. My customers appreciate that they’re buying something unique, that’s been made with love and care and should last for years if treated right.
When you run a business you have to actually be paid for your time – otherwise you are working for free. There are many hobbyists out there who are happy to work for free and sell their products for cost of materials only, or that and a tiny bit more, just so they can keep doing their hobby and buying more materials – and that’s absolutely fine if that’s your aim. My aim is to be paid for my time! As to the scarves on your local market may well be imported from countries where people are not paid a living wage to produce them.
I use top quality products, from the silk and paints/inks to the Carrageenan, and also have to use distilled water for the marbling process. All these things cost money.
And finally, it’s taken me about three years to reach the skill level I am at now, and I’m learning, improving and experimenting to obtain better results all the time. Doctors, lawyers and accountants spend a long time training and expect to start at a salary that compensates them for that. Craftspeople and artisans also spend a long time learning and training, and are generally then lucky to earn minimum wage through their craft!
Do you teach workshops?
I don’t have any workshops planned but if you are interested in hosting one through a small group (maximum six people) please contact me and we can discuss the possibilities.
Other (non-marbling) Questions
Are your marbling ingredients safe?
Yes. I use acrylic paints and inks which are then heat-fixed to the silk or cotton. A very few acrylic paints, depending on the pigments they contain, can be toxic if ingested in large quantities. Since each of my items only contains tiny quantities of fixed and dry paint, they are all safe. I mordent using alum, which again would be toxic if ingested in very large quantities, but is harmless in the tiny amounts in which it occurs in my items. Carrageenan, which ‘traditional’ Western marbling uses to thicken the water, is a food product and therefore completely safe. Suminagashi uses only water and ink. Like the paints, some inks could be toxic if ingested in huge quantities but there is very little ink on each scarf!
Do you have insurance?
Yes, I have public and product liability insurance.
What is your returns policy?
Please see the ‘Terms and Conditions of Sale’ page.
If I have a question, what is the fastest way to get an answer?
Please email email@example.com but if you don’t get a response quickly, try anne underscore penguin at Hotmail dot com instead.
Are your products identical to the photos on your website/in the shop?
All my items are unique, one of a kind and hand made. The scarves are all individually photographed and the one you receive will be the one in the photographs.
I try to make my photos as true to the real items as possible and take time to colour match. However, it’s not always possible to get a perfect match and what appears on my screen may not be what appears on your screen. That’s why I’ll accept returns if you’re unhappy with the colour – but I do ask you to pay return postage.
In some cases, such as some of the earrings in my Conscious Crafties Marbled Beauty Shop, I have a picture of one pair of earrings but although the pair you receive will be cut from the same leather and cotton, it might not be the one in the photograph. If this concerns you, I can make the earrings for you, send you photographs, and if you are not happy with the results I will refund your order and not post them out to you.
Where do your raw materials come from?
The cotton I’m using at the moment is Egyptian cotton. The leather is ‘designer dead stock’ which means that a designer bought a job-lot of it and made whatever they needed to make. The pieces I buy come from New Craft House, who buy up the remnants from designers, that would otherwise end up in landfill. The silk is imported, usually from China. I use inks imported from Japan and paints from Golden, an American brand of top-quality paints. Carrageenan is grown and harvested all over the world and my suppliers vary.
Where do you make your items?
I marble it in a workshop at the back of our house in Norfolk. I then hand hem the scarves, usually while watching TV or listening to an audio book in our living room!
What if my question isn’t answered?
Please email me or fill in the website form. Email and form are both on the Contact us page along with all the social media links. You can contact through Instagram and Facebook too, but the website form or email will probably get a faster response.