In the Japanese Suminagashi tradition, the marbler strives to allow the ink to express itself. Rather than impose a premeditated design, suminagashi is a collaboration between the artist and the natural world. Designs are created in concert by the materials and fluid forces, with the artist acting as conductor. Given the many variables at work in the fluid medium of marbling, the ink sometimes presents surprising new characteristics. By encouraging these phenomena, new avenues of exploration will open. If the developing design suggests physical manipulation, here are three techniques for moving the ink on the water in your tray...
1. This first is quite simple: swish your hand through the water in the tray before applying the ink. The motion of the water will slowly move the design as it develops, illustrating the eddies beneath the surface.
2. Pluck a single hair from your head. Instead of using a stylus to draw through the design, a hair is very fine and is a flexible tool that cannot be entirely controlled. This will create a delicate and sinuous line, the nature of which will be influenced by the length and texture of your hair.
3. Lastly, you can use a
fan or stiff sheet of paper to buffet the surface of the water with a gust of
air. This will energize the design with intense movement. These three
techniques may be used singly or in concert to expand the possibilities of
composition and style.
Observation and experimentation are the keys to
developing beautiful and expressive Suminagashi!