This Whidbey Island Studio Takes an Ancient Approach to Contemporary Design

Learn the art of water marbling at Coupeville's Marbley
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This article appears in print in the February 2020 issue. Click here to subscribe.

When Ed Hodson discovered a vibrant aqueous art pattern inside some old books, he was instantly mesmerized. This art form, called water marbling, is a process that originated in 12th-century Japan as suminagashi, or “floating ink.” Hodson, a serial entrepreneur and restaurant consultant, was hooked by the intuitive design process: Drop acrylic paint into a base of water and seaweed powder, use simple tools to swirl the colors into your desired pattern, then lay cloth or paper on top of the abstract design, which is then absorbed into the material.

At Hodson’s Whidbey Island studio, Marbley, which opened last summer, you can make your own water-marbled silk scarf and take it home that very day. The scarf, materials, instruction and studio time are all included in a $39 session, while sessions for marbling paper, wood and other materials are occasionally offered with next-day pickup (prices vary). For the artistically anxious among us, water marbling is a perfect place to start—no formal skills required.

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