Author: Sarah Clowe, Director of Art Programs

Materials: Oil (vegetable or baby), food coloring, water, and paper

Take inspiration from artist Tate Klacsmann and create beautiful swirling marbled paper!

The original work from the museum's collections, Raptor and Automata, was created using mixed media of collaged printmaking. The majority of Tate's work includes marbled paper as the background.  Traditionally, paper marbling is done with special inks like Sumi, but we are able to complete a technique of paper marbling with materials that might be commonly found at home.

Once you've finished your art, feel free to email a picture to me at and I'll feature it in a Museum Makers gallery!

Color the oil

In Raptor and Automata, artist Tate Klacsmann combines a number of printmaking techniques. The background of the work is marbled paper created with Sumi ink, and the rest of the images such as the birds have been created with carved relief printmaking blocks.  If you're not familiar with printmaking techniques you can think of relief blocks as handcarved stamps.  If you have stamps on hand you might want to add to the picture by adding in some printed stamp images yourself when your paper is dry.

1. Pour a small amount of oil in several containers (one for each color), and stir thoroughly until mixed.

2. Fill a small casserole or pie pan with an inch or two of water.

Marble your paper

1. Use a dropper, a straw or a spoon to add small amounts of colored oil to the water.

2. If desired you may gently swirl the design with a toothpick.

  • Oil and water repel each other so there will empty spaces circled around the colors which will create the marbled effect.

3. Gently press a paper on the surface of the water so it absorbs the color, and lift for the print.

  • Repeat for as many prints as you'd like!

3. When the papers are dry, you may choose to draw your own additions to be added on to the marbling or to use stamps to create a scene to go along with the patterns.


-Use very small amounts of oil to start with and add more to your containers and food coloring if needed.
-When you pull a print hold it up a moment and let the color drip and spread to discover more patterns.
-The water may need to be changed frequently as too much oil builds up in the dish.

Collection Connection: Raptor and Automata

T. Klacsmann
2015, Mixed Media Collage
Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase, 2017 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk Hudson Region Purchase Prize




Published June 18, 2020