Some years ago, on a visit to Istanbul, I wandered into a little guesthouse tucked into a street just down the hill from Topkapi Palace. The owner, Hikmet, was a master marbling artist, and the place reflected his passion for the art form. Everything in sight was marbled in bright colors and myriad patterns: lampshades, draperies, picture frames, bedsteads, plus a stunning array of wearables. I’ve been in love with marbling ever since.

Shortly after my trip I had the opportunity to try my hand at oil marbling. I had great results, but the process required lots of materials, some of which I’m sure are toxic. And I knew it would take a lot of time to master control over the swirling pigments to achieve the beautiful patterns I saw in books.

Marbling has been around for centuries (especially in Asian countries), and there are a variety of techniques, both historical and contemporary, that you can try. But one of the easiest is using Japanese sumi ink and plain water to create beautiful black, gray, and white designs on a variety of papers. These can be used for card-making, bookbinding, scrapbooking, and other craft projects.