Step 3: Create the Solution

Preparing the “Size”

The first thing you need to do is to make the marbling solution (the “size”) onto which you are going to float the paints. This is best done 24 hours before it is going to be used. Add the carrageenan slowly to the water as you stir it. Start with about 1/4 cup of carrageenan per gallon of warm water. Make sure it’s fully dissolved, then refrigerate for 24 hours to obtain the best viscosity and to allow trapped air bubbles to rise to the surface. Before use, it needs to be warmed to room temperature. The tray should have at least 2 inches deep of “size”. How big the tray needs to be depends on how big the objects are that you want to lay flat on the size surface. It can be anything from an aluminum roasting pan to a child’s wading pool. How thick the “size” needs to be will vary with the brand of paint being used and the effects you wind up liking best. Add carrageenan to thicken the size if needed or water to thin it if necessary. Just before adding the paints, skim off any film that has formed on the surface of the “size” by dragging a strip of newspaper from one end to the other.

Reusing the Size

The “size” can be used over and over again. It can be kept for 3 to 4 days at room temperature before it begins to mold and must be discarded. To keep it longer, just refrigerate it. (Mark and tape the container clearly so it is not eaten). Warm it to room temperature before using. If the “size” has been sitting a while, clear the surface of tension with newspaper before using.

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