Natalie Stopka

February 27, 2015

marbling patterns: waved getgel

Filed under: how-to,marbling — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 10.51 am

marble pattern: waved getgel

Continuing the marbling pattern tutorials, we next come to the waved getgel. This pattern is very similar to and begins with the getgel, only replacing the straight parallel lines with waved ones in the final step.

getgel diagramComplete the getgel pattern

waved getgel diagramRepeat the getgel, ending with a waved line


marble pattern: waved getgel

In the studio, begin by throwing down your chosen colors in a stone pattern.

marble pattern: waved getgel

Complete the getgel pattern once, as above (or twice for very fine lines).

marble pattern: waved getgel

Then, working perpendicular to the existing pattern, draw another series of parallel lines.

marble pattern: waved getgel

Moving the opposite direction, bisect those lines with a series of parallel waved lines.

marble pattern: waved getgel

And the waved getgel is complete!


February 23, 2015

marbling patterns: getgel

Filed under: how-to,marbling — Tags: , , , , , — Natalie @ 1.29 pm

There are a wide variety of formal, often combed, marbled patterns, each with its own history. I thought I’d embark on a series of posts illustrating the process of creating a few of these patterns, which are much simpler to produce than they appear. These are by no means historically accurate examples, nor an exhaustive survey  – for that I can recommend Anne Chamber’s The Practical Guide to Marbling Paper,  Iris Nevins’ Traditional Marbling, or Patty & Mimi Schleicher’s Marbled Designs: A Complete Guide to Fifty-Five Elegant Patterns.

marbling supplies

marbling supplies

A few notes on my materials and process: Many types of pigments, sizes, and surfactants are used by marblers, each according to his or her preference. I work with acrylic paints on caragheenan, using Dawn or Photo-flow as needed. I find that an ice cube tray makes a perfectly-sized palette, and like glass pipettes rather than disposable ones.

Uniformly repeating patterns rely on a variety of rakes or combs with evenly spaced tines, ranging from 1/8″ to 1 1/2″ apart. I often prefer to hand draw the pattern with a stylus, which gives a less static appearance (and is freeing!). The diameter of the stylus does impact the line quality, while the distance between the lines drawn will have a marked impact on the scale of the finished pattern. If you are marbling paper destined for bookbinding, make a note of the grain direction before beginning so you can plan the direction of the pattern accordingly.

getgel pattern

One of the primary marbled patterns is the getgel, from the Turkish ‘go and come’. Pictured above in an example created with a stylus. While fetching in its own right, the getgel is also the foundation for many other combed patterns. It is simply a series of parallel lines, bisected by a series of parallel lines running in the opposite direction. The getgel pattern can then be repeated at right angles to the first pass, which will create finer, more delicate lines of color.

getgel diagramTwo sets of  parallel lines completes the getgel pattern

getgel diagramThe getgel can be repeated perpendicular to the existing pattern

In the studio the getgel pattern begins by throwing down a few colors, each addition driving the prior color into dense veins.

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

Followed by the combing process – a little shaky this morning.

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

The getgel is now complete, but I’d like to repeat it for finer lines and more uniform color dispersal.

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

marbling patterns: getgel

And there you have it, the getgel pattern!


February 5, 2015

haptic considerations

Filed under: binding — Tags: — Natalie @ 3.13 pm

From “Reading by Hand: The Haptic Evaluation of Artists’ Books” by Gary Frost:

Are there any additional approaches that will assist evaluation of artistic works in a book format? I suggest that there is an additional topic that could propagate additional tools.

This topic is the aesthetic consequence of a work of book art in the hands of the reader where tactile qualities and features of mobility are appreciated. This is a haptic [pertaining to the technology of touch] domain where the study of touch as a mode of communication is at work. Such evaluations call up deeply embedded perceptions and sensory skills where the hands prompt the mind and where the reader’s understanding can be far removed from the intentions of the artist.
But how can we provide effective description for a more critical experience of the corporeal book? We can lift it, open it and turn a page. Is it docile or springy on opening, solid or tentative on closing? Is there a live transmission of forces through the structure or is it crippled? What instigates the reader’s ergonomic of comprehension and how are haptic features consequential to the evaluation of book art?
[A]ll books are art in a world of subtle and critical manual evaluation. If we could delineate it, a manual evaluation or haptic criticism would lay out a physics for book art criticism, using words.

Frost, Gary. “Reading by Hand: The Haptic Evaluation of Artists’ Books.” The Bonefolder 2.1 (2005): 3-6. Book Arts Web. Philobiblon. Web. 5 Feb. 2015. <>.

January 15, 2015


Filed under: goings-on,workshops — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 12.02 pm

large scale fabric marbling

The new year’s new workshops are now listed and open for enrollment! Bookbinding 101, Coptic Binding, Natural Dyeing, and a new one-day intensive I am excited to teach: Large Scale Fabric Marbling. This class will cover all the basics with a small marbling vat for each student to experiment in, but we will also pull prints from the large vat. I mean 2 square yards of continuous marbled fabric, using traditional or experimental techniques as you like. Big! We will also discuss the practical considerations of building and printing from a large vat – trust me, I’m frequently up to my elbows in mine. Saturday, February 14th at the Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn.

If you’d like to try fabric marbling without diving into the large vat, I’ll also be teaching a short 3-hour After Workshop next Tuesday, January 20 in Manhattan. 6:30-9:30, BYOB!

November 28, 2014


Filed under: marbling,paper — Tags: , , — Natalie @ 10.02 am

marbled softcover booklets

Lots of little softcover booklets for the holidays. These are bound simply with the odds and ends of my marbled papers, all made in-house, and gathered into trios of pleasing patterns. A perfect little something for a holiday or hostess gift!

marbled softcover booklets

marbled softcover booklets

November 24, 2014

handmade holiday

Filed under: goings-on,workshops — Tags: , , , , , — Natalie @ 9.58 am

We’re approaching the season for handmade gifts – or the perfect time to indulge in a handmade gift to yourself. TAC’s got a new roster of Handmade Holiday workshops to fit the bill. These are one night only, 3 hour long, BYOB classes to get yourself craftily in the holiday spirit.

Check out the whole lineup (now including parent & child workshops), or Enroll here!

japanese bookbinding workshop


November 12, 2014

suminagashi scarves

Filed under: marbling,natural dyes,textiles — Tags: , , , , — Natalie @ 9.45 am

suminagashi marbled scarf

I have been hard at work but having a wonderful time creating a new line of marbled scarves. These naturally dyed scarves are marbled using suminagashi techniques – the Japanese art of marbling – to create cloudscapes, sedimentary layers, ice floes, and visual explosions. I love them.

An airy blend of silk and cotton with fringed ends, these pieces can be worn or hung on the wall. Find these in the shop now, and more to come soon!

suminagashi marbled scarf

suminagashi marbled scarf


September 11, 2014


Filed under: binding,marbling — Tags: , , — Natalie @ 10.06 am

marbled journals

Some new little marbled journals are up in the shop today. These were a delight to put together  – I marbled the papers, then dyed some lengths of silk with apple bark and sandalwood to match.  The signatures are folded down from whole sheets in the old-fashioned manner, then cut by hand.

marbled journals

September 8, 2014

a cuore aperto

Filed under: beautiful things,goings-on — Tags: , , , , , — Natalie @ 10.20 am

For the past year I have been working with the artist Janice Gordon to construct a series of triptychs and collages, which are now winging across the ocean to a gallery in Florence. Janice’s work is a captivating blend of found objects and metaphysical speculation. She finds the spirit carried within each object, and by assembling these disparate pieces of our cultural and natural history, projects an evocative and many-layered story.  The stories of this body of work, titled A Cuore Aperto, are concerned with the heart and its complex physical and spiritual connotations.

Janice Gordon: Heart Sutra

Heart Sutra, Janice Gordon

Working with Janice has been a delight, as we share so many common interests and aesthetics. My contribution was the assembly of the triptychs and their mechanical action, using antique book covers almost exclusively. Janice’s collages juxtapose antique marbled book covers and pastedowns with histological slides used in contemporary medical research. The cardiovascular cell structures on these slides eerily and beautifully harmonize with the marbled patterns. Needless to say, working amidst piles of gorgeous antique papers and distressed old medical books has been dreamy!

Janice Gordon: AffinitiesAffinities, Janice Gordon

A Cuore Aperto will be on view at C2 Contemporanea 2 in Florence beginning this Thursday, September 11.

Janice Gordon: A Cuore Aperto

September 11 – October 10, 2014

C2 contemporanea 2 di Antonio lo Pinto

C2 è a Firenze in via Ugo Foscolo, 6 50124 FI

From the curator, Silvia Cangioli:

“With a particular interest in the heart, Janice Gordon works in the liminal space between apparent opposites: matter and spirit, science and religion, nature and culture. In this new series A Cuore Aperto, art and science, tradition and modernity live together in work which has both great emotional impact and a delicate sensibility.

With the determination of a researcher who seeks to comprehend the heart in all its aspects, Gordon has studied the representation of the heart in art history and how the portrayal of the heart has evolved in connection with our medical understanding of how it functions; she went to Florence to peruse the antique anatomical texts in Florentine libraries and visited the extraordinary collection of anatomical waxes at the Museum of Natural History; she observed cardiovascular interventions in operating rooms; she visited medical schools and laboratories in Europe and America…

…This was the genesis of A Cuore Aperto: she began to combine magnified images of cardiovascular tissue which she had photographed in research laboratories with traditional materials and historical forms associated with Florence. Thus were born the Triptychs that the artist created using antique marbleized book covers from her collection. These works, which have the aura of sacred objects, are akin to medieval traveling altars and are also a reference to the ancient tradition of marbleized paper, for which Florence is renowned.

Gordon’s Tryptichs, however, are enigmatic, as if they were guarding a secret: an image which is a revelation of contemporary science. The marbleized doors open to a central panel revealing cardiovascular cells, and the forms created by the art of marbleization resonate to such a degree with nature’s biological structures that it is strangely difficult to discriminate between the two.”

Janice Gordon: Saint's Companion

Saint’s Companion, Janice Gordon

September 1, 2014

call for writers

Filed under: goings-on — Tags: , , , — Natalie @ 10.48 am

call for writers

I’m looking to collaborate with a writer. I’d like to produce a limited edition of fiction, poetry, or nonfiction – something intriguing or gripping or beautiful, by a person I can develop an equally expressive book design with. I have many varied techniques to draw on in creating a wholly unique design, and I’m looking for a challenge. So please submit your work!


  • Any type of writing, so long as it will fit in one volume.
  • You will be responsible for paying for the edition. The design and edition size will be developed within your budget.
  • You must possess the rights to reproduce the writing.


  • A sample of your writing
  • A little about yourself
  • Please use the contact form here, with the subject line ‘writing submission’

Please send in submissions by October 15, 2014, and I will be touch with potential collaborators shortly thereafter!

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