Mossmilldesign
I was wondering if anyone can tell me what the minimum depth of size will work for marbling? I bought the kit to try marbling on a gel size- carageenan- but my experience is with oil paints that are floated on water.
How deep does the size have to be? I'd like to marble a fat quarter (18"×21") in a pan measuring 20"× 23"- the only way I can do it is if I can marble in 3/4" deep of size. This is based on the amount of  carageenan that comes in the kit. It should make about 1.5 gallons. 
So- my question is- is 3/4" deep enough carageenan to marble on? Am I making sense?
Thank you! 
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Jacquardmod Jacquardmod
HI, 

This is a good question.  If you start doing the math, you realize that as your volume increases that gallon and a half of carrageenan seems like a small amount really fast.  When I was doing yardage I balked at the 12 gallons I needed.

However, I think you can do this.  

You only really need about Half an inch to marble, maybe even less.  As long as the small amount of paint at the bottom is not altering yoru design on the surface, you should be good.

So if we say 20x23x.5 we get 230 cubic inches of material.  There are 231 cubic inches in a gallon, so wow. You are in a good spot actually. 

Your gallon of carrageenan will do it, and you will have a half gallon to fill it up as you that half inch slowly dwindles from the carrageenan as some of it sticks to the fabric.  I can pull from 30-45 11x17 prints out of that, so I think you will get 20 or so depending on how dark/how much paint you use on each design.  I'd guess on prints this size, that you will run out of paint before you run out of carrageenan.  
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Mossmilldesign
Great- I was looking around on other sites and only saw one reference to depth and it suggested 1".  I just didn't want to have a stack of smaller pieces of fabric- at least a fat quarter is a project friendly size.
Let me ask you this- I mentioned I've done marbling on water with oil paints. If I recall correctly, aren't there oil based fabric inks? Do you think they could be thinned and floated on water for marbling?  I sometimes think I'm more scientist than artist- but then my frugality kicks in and I know I'm more artist than scientist. So, I'm just thinking it all through and if the oil based inks float- it might be more cost effective to invest in oil based fabric inks. Do you know what they use to thin oil based fabric printing inks?  I think I'm falling into a rabbit hole....
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Jacquardmod Jacquardmod
You use oil or an oil medium thin oil based paints.  I don't know of any oil based fabric paints.  OIl bar and shiva oil sticks I remember seeing people use on fabric, but it was not usually stuff to be worn, or when it was it was like a cape or accessory type of thing.

Oil based paints dry through oxidation of the oil.  So, it is a much longer dry time days, weeks months, so it is really not as useful to a professional that needs to crank stuff out.  I would say there are much better methods for making the paint feel soft for acrylics than for oil paints.

There are the solvent based ones too?  Those always have a stiff binder though, so they never seem to feel soft.  

Plus the thicker carrageenan size allows to make much more elaborate marbling designs than oil on water.  

If you are looking for economy, you might consider using methocellulose instead of carrageenan.  I don't really like it as much because it is not as graceful, but it is cheaper and it doesn't spoil like carrageenan can. You can leave a bath out for months.  
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Mossmilldesign
Okay- thank you. I was thinking more along the line of speedball oil based block fabric ink that dries really fast and is water clean up-but I can see your poibt with basic oil paints.
  I did a few marbled prints today on paper and some smaller fabric pieces I had. I refrigerated the carageenan - as suggested on several marbling sites. I think I added too much water- it seems a little thin. Do you think I can use a little sodium alginate to thicken it a little bit? Isn't it basically the same thing- a product of seaweed? I use it for printing with dyes or when I want more control in shibori style dyeing using fiber reactive dye and it keeps for several months in the refrigerator. If not, I'll probably have to order more carageenan.
I did get some great prints and I did iron one piece of fabric onto freezer paper which offered a lot of control when I laid it down. The other thing I did was roll each end of the fabric around hard cardboard tubes and met in the middle. It allowed me to lay down the middle and roll it out flat towards each side.  20200601_223133.jpg 
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Jacquardmod Jacquardmod
I have some quick suggestions on carrageenan thickness. 

Definitely easier to thin than thicken.  I have heard of people using alginate, but I never have.  One thing you may be able to add to thicken it (if you don't have a water softener) is sodium hexametaphosphate.  It sounds scary, but it is a salt that traps metal ions like sodium and magnesium that thin the carrageenan.  This also means that if you want the thickest possible carrageenan, you can do that by buying a gallon or 2 of distilled water and using that to make your marbling medium.  Definitely recommend that if you have well water/especially hard water. 

Spreading too fast is a symptom of carrageenan that is too thin.  This is a really good sign of when it is has finally spoiled, it loses thickness and your color shoots across the whole tray.

I designed the kit to have a about a 4 inch circle of black and a 3 inch circle of each color.  That thickness allows your design you put in to be pretty stable.  Thinner and there are too many waves, and you will get more swirling and less stability in your design.  That is not always a bad thing!  It can seem more free flowing that way, but it also usually means your colors are more pastel overall.  

Thicker size adds more stability  to your designs, but can cause skipping because it is too thick or you can scrap the paint off the surface in a weird way if you move too fast like you might with thinner size.  Colors are more concentrated here so you are at more risk of running colors afterwards.  The more combing and manipulation and more evenly you distribute the color tends to help that.  This is often seen in cold or cool size as well.  If you don't allow it to get to room temp before you begin marbling, you will see less spread of colors, more dripping and bleeding after printing.

Sinking color can be symptom of both too thin or too thick size.  Too think and the bath is not dense enough to support the paint and it sinks.  Too thick and the paint doesn't spread as much, all the weight is concentrated in one dot and it sinks.  

You can increase the spread of the colors by adding the clear solution in the bottle the synthetic gall.  It makes the paint spread more, so you can solve some of the issues of thick size with more gall.  Be careful you cannot undo this and nothing you add to the paint can slow the spread of the color.  I try to only add it to the color I am using for that session.  Also, it is usually necessary to clean the entire surface after using gall if you want to go back to paints with no gall added. 

This is the hardest part of marbling that is so hard to master is the balancing act required to make sure marbling works well.  As any marbler can tell you some days the weather makes it weird.  I tried to make the kit as balanced as I could.  
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Mossmilldesign
Thank you. That is all very helpful. We have well water but we do have a water softener so that may or may not be the issue. I may have to start from scratch. The inks/paints spread a lot- way more than you noted. I had much better results with airbrush ink except one color was a little runny. They seemed to float better and didn't spread as much. When I used the paints in the kit on paper they almost look like they curdled- I'll try to get a picture of what I mean. It may have been the paper. I used a 70 lb multi media paper. The ebru style worked well on the paper- better than marbling. I had mixed results but think I'll try again. I really love the look of marbled fabric and would like to explore that further. I'd really like to try to get more saturated color and coverage than what I got with this first go. Thank you for answering all of my questions and being so patient. You were extremely helpful and I appreciate the time you spent explaining things to me. Thanks again. Screenshot_2020-06-04-20-12-55-1.png  when I marbled on the second night, I used a half gallon that I mixed separately so I needed a smaller tray. I pleated the fat quarter and taped it off on the back to make the fabric fit my tray and to give it some visual interest. After I marbled and rinsed it, the tape came off and I was left with this grid pattern. I absolutely love how it turned out.Screenshot_2020-06-04-20-12-51-1.png 
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Jacquardmod Jacquardmod
Yes these look more washed out than usual.  Try some distilled water and see if you have better results.   I think it could very well be well water as an issue.  More generally if you want more saturated colors you have to add more ink.  

Pretty convincing that the well water is the culprit since the airbrush paint usually needs gall added so it will spread more.  IF the kit colors are zooming all over the carrageenan, yeah it is probably the water.  Metal ions do crazy things to the sizing.  If you just put a pinch of salt in your carrageenan it will lose all thickness super fast.  If you add some water softener salt, it will thicken up.  This is true of most paints as well.  

Paper can be an issue and multimedia paper is not always great.  It often has sizing for inks in it so they don't bleed.  that is bad for marbling.  What you wnat for marbling is a really absorbent paper.  So a printmaking paper or unsized rag is really great.  Asian papers made from rice are often good too because there are no treatments in them.  You want a paper as raw as possible.  
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Mossmilldesign
This paper didn't have sizing- I did check for that. But it wouldn't have been my first choice if the art supply stores were open. I did a couple of ebru style designs -one of the colors ran when I rinsed it but the colors were really vibrant and saturated. I did add gall to the airbrush paint but I was being conservative with it. I still ended up with 3 fabric panels that I really like and a better idea of the process. I've made notes so I should have much better results the next go. I'm going to take a break and make up an indigo vat this week- I need to work on something that I don't have to think too much about and feels effortless. Haha!😀 
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