Skip to content

Art Ideas for Kids: How to Make Marbled Paper

Kids love messing around with paints and water, so what better than a kids' craft activity that combines the two! Marbling is an ancient artistic technique used to create beautiful patterned paper, but it’s not as hard as you might think. Here are some easy art ideas for you and your child to create attractive, swirly designs without the need for shop-bought marbling paint.


Basic Kids' Craft Equipment for Marbling

When you make marbled paper, you can teach your child new skills and all have fun learning a new craft. For each of the techniques you will need the following:

  • Small bowls or containers to separate coloured liquids
  • Two large baking trays or dishes big enough to contain a sheet of paper
  • Paper or card – white or pastel-coloured – or brown wrapping paper
  • Items to create patterns with, like toothpicks, a comb, a feather, or a fork.
  • Paper towels for cleaning up
  • Scissors

Marbling Ingredients and Techniques

Traditionally, marbled paper is made with oil-based paints and inks, floated on water, but most parents won’t have these to hand. Here are some clever kids' craft alternatives when you’re creating marbled paper at home:

Food colouring and white shaving foam

  • Spray one of your large containers evenly with shaving cream to a depth of 1.5 cm.
  • Drop the food colouring into the shaving cream and roughly swirl together.
  • Place the paper on the surface of the shaving cream, lift off and leave for 10 mins.
  • Wipe off excess shaving cream with paper towels and leave to dry.

Food colouring and cooking oil

  • Fill one large container to a depth of 2.5 cm with cold water.
  • Vigorously mix a few drops of food colouring with half a tablespoon of regular cooking oil, then drip onto the surface of the water, and create patterns.
  • Place the paper on the surface of the water and then quickly lift off. Leave to dry.

Acrylic or poster paints and liquid starch

  • Fill one large container to a depth of 5cm with liquid starch; fill the other with cold water.
  • Dilute the paint and drip it on the surface of the starch – if it's too thick, it will sink.
  • Create patterns in the water with household items you’ve collected.
  • Place the paper on the surface of the starch and then quickly lift off.
  • Place the paper on the surface of the water bath for a few seconds to rinse, lift off, and leave to dry.

Tips for Marbling Art Ideas

  • Always protect clothing and surfaces – paints and food colouring can stain. If you do end up with a stain, look for stain removal advice from the Stain Gang – Surf Excel will help you!
  • Don’t swirl colours together too vigorously, otherwise they will mix.
  • Always hold the paper by opposing corners to lay on the surface of the water – it shouldn’t fall below the water line.
  • Use your results to decorate bookmarks, greeting cards, book covers, and photo frames.