Mixed Media

Back to School: Suminagashi

A couple weeks ago Kim and I went to a lecture about Marbling Paper at Kremer Pigments in NYC. It was a great lecture by Sarah Oppenheimer and I learned a ton.

While I love the Western style of paper marbling I was totally taken by Suminagashi – which is the Japanese paper marbling technique where you basically float sumi ink on top of water.

We couldn’t try the technique ourself since it was a lecture and demo but I knew I had to try this at home.

The pictures you see – starting with the one above are all from my second try. The first try was a total disaster and I didn’t take photos because basically I just used “bad words” and tried to figure out what was going on. My ink would mostly blob to the bottom of the container , the ink would just run off my paper …water everywhere- ink everywhere – you get the picture.

But ..of course I wouldn’t give up – after some digging for information of what possibly could have gone wrong and some research and reading I was ready for the second try and that was wayyyyy better.

For this second trial I used Sumi Ink – which is the black ink you see in the pictures as well as some Shellac Inks by Kremer Pigments. You also need a surfactant (which can be watercolor medium, dishwash soap, a marbling surfactant, soap nut ….and it is a trial and error to see how well they work) and two or more Sumi brushes. The problems of my first trial were a mixture of wrong surfactant and also dipping the brushes way too far into the water.

Basically you start with for example two or three brushes- here in the picture above you see a sample where I worked with three brushes . One will be dipped into the surfactant and the other ones in ink. Then you patiently dip just the very tip of the brush onto the water surface and alternate between the brushes – meaning between the colors and the surfactant.

At some point you will have tons of rings on your water surface and you can then either manipulate the “design” with some “wind” – meaning carefully blowing the surface or using a hair of your scalp to go through it. Then you lay paper -preferably washi paper on top of the surface and slowly pull it off.

Does that sound stressful to you? LOL- not at all- all good. The washi paper as the one above was my favorite result but also the most complicated to handle. Taking it off of the water and not ripping it – not folding it and just handle it in any normal way was sooo tough – little bit of stress here …but I think next time and with more practice that will work well. Having some non-washi paper on hand definitely helped.

Look at the gorgeous pattern and the texture of the washi paper- I cannot wait to use this as collage paper but that will take a bit hahahah- I need to pet it a bit more before i can let go ;)

The one above was after I blew onto the surface before adding the paper on top – I love how the rings just went nuts and zig-zaggy . BTW this was done with red and black ink. The colors will always be very very washed out and muted, which is the charm of this. For me this creates so many opportunities to incorporate the paper into my artwork without being overpowering.

For this one above I used a hair of mine and swirled it through. Apparently the oil on your hair makes sure that the rings won’t get interrupted as it would if you would use something else like a comb – but don’t quote me on this- I haven’t tried a ton yet because I first wanted to get a feel of how things work …without having the ink coming off the paper or just sitting in the bottom of the tray.

It was so much fun and I love the couple papers I made with my first sitting. I could have done way more papers but the problem was basically space – next time I def. have to set myself a bit better up – close to the sink and also with some better space for the paper to dry.

I would also love to try some other colors and actually also different inks- for example also acrylic inks. I am not sure if it will work but hey – that doesn’t stop me ;)

The blue came out quite nice

And then this one – I pulled the blue ones on the top and then instead of cleaning and skimming the water right away I added some black ink with surfactant and then printed again – I love the result.

The one on top is a layered print – first I printed black and white and then blue and white on top . I love it- but have to practice this also a bit more to get some better prints.

And there you go – a pile of paper that I love. I cannot wait to do this again. If you want to try it yourself find different videos about Suminagashi – and start maybe with a small container and dishwasher soap and see if it works – It seems to be quite a trial and error if you do not want to dive right away in the “traditional right way” but I have to say – I enjoy that journey because that gives me the possibility to adjust to my own needs and to what I have.

I cannot wait to show you some art journal spreads I used them for.

Do you like those prints and how could you see yourself using them?

Comments (3)

  • Christine Mack


    Nat, I loved your papers.. I have done suminigashi before and here are some suggestions: PAPER-Masa and Canson’s Mi Tientes work well. You can get both at Dick Blick. To dry your paper try blotting your print (don’t rub, blot) with paper towels with no pattern on it like Viva or blotter paper. Your print will dry in about 15 minutes if you blot it first. INK-acrylic inks will not work with plain water. You must use a thickened water like for regular marbling and you must put a mordant on the paper to make it stick. You can use printer’s ink or India ink but you will need to thin it with a dispersant. A good source for Sumi ink in colors is a small kit you can get either at Dick Blick or Amazon. Search for Suminagashi and the kit should appear. Blick also has a nice tutorial on their web site. Hope these tips help and have fun with suminagashi.


  • Nancy G.


    I’ve seen videos on this process, but never tried it. Thanks for sharing your experiments. You make me want to try.


  • Jean Goza


    Nat these are so amazing! I would have to hang them on the wall awhile to enjoy the “flow” of lines before I could cut into them. Thanks for sharing!


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Dina Wakley Pouring Medium – Ranger Challenge 2019

It was fun being invited by the peeps at Ranger to participate in the 2019 Ranger Designer Challenge with the focus on Dina Wakley Pouring Medium. The pieces are yearly displayed at Creativation former CHA -a big Craft and Hobby Trade Show happening every January.

I have played with pouring medium before and it was especially fun to play with Dina’s Cell Creator.

Here is my piece for the challenge


It was really fun to play with Dina’s products – even though it was a bit out of my box as it is so different from what I usually do and use. But hey- it is called challenge for a reason ;)

It was also fun to spy the piece here and there on social media since I didn’t go to the Show this time

Here are the supplies I used:

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Where You Find Light – Art Journal

Here is a another art journal spread using the hand carved stamp I showed in my Creative JumpStart 2019 class video ( you can still join us if you want – lots of fun tutorials). Here I inked it up with black archival ink

and used it cut apart as shown in the tutorial. I also used it with my RubberMoon Rubberstamps – I love the mix of hand carved and hand sketched next to each other.

I painted the stamped images and the background in with acrylic inks and acrylic gouache and added the journaling with a white sharpie. Love how the colors glow.

Here are some of the supplies I used for this spread:

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Discuss Ideas – Art Journal

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people. ” Eleanor Roosevelt

Loved playing with my new ArtFoamies  and creating a pattern using the Far Out, Funky and Gnarly stamps.

I sketched the lady with some acrylic ink on a piece of deli paper and then added it with gel medium to the background.

Here are some of the supplies I used for this spread:

Comments (2)

  • Sue Clarke


    I love the quote and the art work.
    I have your new ArtFoamies on my wish list Nat!


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Tagging Along

There is something that makes me happy about a small little gift tag :) Here is one I created using some metallic color and teal with my new Downtown Stencil.

Love the pattern and border you can create with this stencil. I filled in the free space with my Numeral Stamp – another favorite of mine :)

Hope you are having a wonderful fall week :)

Here are the supplies I used for this simple tag:

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Swapped – Painting

A new finished painting which I call Swapped. I was intrigued by the story of the Morton F. Plant House, located on the prestigious Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Apparently Cartier wanted the building, and Plant exchanged it in 1917 for 100 Dollars and a double stranded pearl necklace worth about 1,000,000 Dollars at the time. Then the necklace “only” made 151,000 USD in 1957 at an auction, so I guess that swap didn’t really work out. And so there is a jeweler and watch store up to this day in the building. There are quite some weird real estate exchange stories in NYC …this is certainly one of them. I imagined the building being just an “ordinary” apartment building -it is still so beautiful and one could only guess at how many necklaces would be needed for such a swap today! These are the things that went through my head when I painted Swapped.

The painting is 24″x18″ in size, acrylic paint, spray paint and marker on canvas.

It is available in the store here and meanwhile waits for a new home on my living room wall.



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Not Flowery – Art Journal

For not being a flowery girl, I did an awful lot of flowery stuff lately, huh? LOL.

This spread was inspired by a mural I saw in Birmingham, UK last year- can you spot which one in the post about it?

The background was spray painted over my Kassel stencil, and the flowers are painted with acrylic paints and gouache. For the face I used neopastels.

I like how all the different paint mediums look together and play with them.

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Workshops at Runaway Art & Craft in Oregon

Last weekend I made my way to Oregon to teach at Runaway Art & Craft – look at this cool view I had from the plane of Mount Hood!

It was so lovely to meet Christy the owner- she has an amazing store – you have to check it out when you are in the area. Can you tell I loved her:

And such a cool classroom as well – spacious and well organized and hey…a brick wall …you gotta love a brick wall as well!

Saturday I taught my Stroll Through the Hood Workshop and a Master Art Express Art Journaling Workshop

Loved all the cool color combinations people started out with on their Ampersand boards in the Stroll Through the Hood Class.


Love this gorgeous swirly sky and the patterns on here


So much fun to see the different interpretations .

Loved how this was stamped with the back of my ArtFoamies Midtown Stamps and then using the door stamp from My Home is My Castle stamp set as a window- as well as my new art deco house.

It was so cool to see all the new stamps in store as well – it was the first time I was using them in a workshop – woot woot.  A lot of them sold out but she might still have a couple!



We even did a group photo- yeahhh!

Loved the art journal classes as well- loads of pattern play and color exploration.

Look at all the stencils and stamps- It is still a weird thing to see- seriously!

Here is my wonderful sunday crowd – they were so much fun too!!!

This weekend made me super happy- I just love hanging out with people that love to create and smile a lot :)

Art Journal Spread before some color hit it


Thank you so much to all the students for coming to the classes and spending such a fun and wonderful time with me and thank you Christy for having me! I hope I will be back some time :)

If you want to take a workshop with me in-person – some of my 2018 workshops are posted here – some i still need to add – I would love to see you ! I am super excited that I will actually be also teaching in Europe 4 times next year, I will be teaching in The Netherlands in April,  in the U.K in June together with my sweet friend Birgit Koopsen, in Germany in September, and in the U.K again in November with my wonderful friend Julie Fei-Fan Balzer. More infos soon :)

Comments (6)

  • Jackie P Neal


    Such awesome photos you shared here! Obviously you taught well and these ladies were so inspired- the artworks they made are beautiful!
    My favorite photo is the one that shows all of your stamps and stencils!! What a feeling that must be to see that and to know you have realized a dream! Congratulations to you on all of your endeavors!
    Off to Rubbermoon to see your new stamps- I am so syked! (sic)
    hugs & love,Jackie


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Awe- thank you Jackie- it is indeed always a weird feeling to see the stuff in a store- kind of a like a pinch me now moment :)
      hugs and love right back :)


  • Clavell


    You set the tone for FUN, Nathalie! I loved your exercises in color theory and your encouragement to find our own style by exploring the work of our favorite Masters! You are a wonderful and gifted teacher! ♥


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      It was so wonderful to have you Clavell! Loved what you did with the boards and your flower -exercise was so beautiful. Have a wonderful holiday season and hopefully next year again :)


  • Pam Hansen


    The weekend was so awesome. It was so much fun, definetly lots of smiling and learning going on in my corner! Thank you for sharing your artsy goodness, smiles, talent and time with us.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Pam – it was so wonderful to meet you- I loved having you in class and going full in with all the creative inspiration. Have a wonderful holiday season and lots of time for artsy goodness :)


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She wished she could go back ….

“She wished she could go back to her younger self and tell her “It’s ok, to be weird, you’ll be fine” ”

This was a demo page from a class and I blocked in some color here and there and stamped with my new Exchange Place ArtFoamies Stamp. I added some stenciling with translucent acrylic paints using my Versailles Stencils – love how this turned out. I added some stamping with my Embroidery stamps to add some more even mark making using different colors of Archival Ink Pads- love those.

I painted the lady with acrylic paints neopastels and used some of the neopastels also here and there on the spread and scratched some writing into it.

I like how the lines of the Exchange Place Stamp and the floral Versailles Stencil work together.

Here are the supplies I used:

Hope you enjoy this page- have a wonderful day!

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