Spray Paint Marbled Holiday Paper

A few years ago, I did a couple sessions of spray paint marbling. It's a really fun and fast project, so I thought it would be a great way to kick off my holiday crafting season. Also, it was nicer out today than it has been in a long time (it's been unseasonably cold here), so I thought I'd take the opportunity to get out on the sun-warmed deck and decorate some paper.

For this project you'll need: a plastic tub big enough to hold a couple inches of water and a whole sheet of paper (and it needs to be ok to get paint on it), some spray paint, some vinyl gloves, and some card stock (or other heavier paper that can get wet without tearing). I'm not generally bugged by getting paint or dye on my hands, but I strongly recommend using gloves for this project. Spray paint is very stubborn to get off skin and even more stubborn to get off your nails. The first time I did this project, I had paint under my nails for weeks. My favorite spray paint for this project is currently Rustoleum 2x paint. It sprays out a bit more paint and doesn't dry quite as fast as some other brands. Any spray paint will work, but I'd generally avoid any that say "faster drying" or "half the dry time" on the can. The cheap-o blue label spray paint from Wal-mart (Color Place brand I think) actually works pretty well for this too--so no need to drop a lot of cash.

I started out by spraying a nice layer of green paint on the water. I took a few passes to get the water completely covered.

I added some silver paint and red to the mix...as you can see, it didn't look bright red--it created a bit of a void in the middle of the water.

So I came back with some green spray paint to fill in the void.Then I jostled the edge of the bin to get the paint to mix a bit and dropped in a sheet of paper.

I got some good swirls, but there were some areas of dried paint and some voids. This is mostly because I was messing around with pictures--you gotta work fast to get the paint to stick to the paper before it starts to dry a bit. I usually flipped the paper over to get any remaining paint out of the water (and to get a little bit of a design on the back side of the paper). After this sheet, I set my camera down and made several more sheets. 

I made 11 sheets when it was all said and done. By the time I was done, the water was getting a bit goopy, and I was running out of places to put the paper to dry. If I had wanted to make more, I would have needed to change the water and my gloves, so this seemed like a good place to stop.

5 or 6 hours later, the paper was just a bit damp. Keep it flat until it's completely dry. The paper won't be completely smooth and flat unless you press it before it's entirely dry. I don't mind it a bit wrinkly, I think it gives the paper some texture like watercolor paper. But if you want it flat for card making or something fancy, I'd let the paper dry until all of the paint is dry to the touch and no longer tacky and then place it between some parchment (for each sheet), and then set something heavy like a book on top of it. 

Making this marbled paper with spray paint is super satisfying. It's fast and comes out with some crazy random designs. Hopefully you'll see this paper work it's way into a few holiday crafts this year!


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