I would like to start with my personal history. I was fortunate to take several master classes on ebru right in my hometown. A couple of years ago I became fascinated with unusual drawings I found on the web. Those were strange depictions of flowers on marble-like background. They turned out to be ebru, the ancient Eastern art.
Ebru probably comes from Turkestan originally. Later it penetrated Iran and Ottoman Empire. This is a traditional Turkiс and Islamic art. In Persian, “ebru” means “cloud”. It is also known as “Turkish paper” or “Turkish marbling”. Initially this technique was used to decorate binding and end leaves of books. There were no manuals on ebru, as the knowledge was passed from masters to apprentices. Traditionally ebru was made by men, and they gave a deep sacral meaning to creating these images on the water surface.
Ebru is born in water
Finds its soul in colours
And emerges on paper
When I firmly decided to try doing ebru, I found that it was not too easy. All materials are very specific. Kitre, the solution for ebru, is made from water and geven resin which comes from a geven tree. It has to infuse for 6-8 hours before it can be used. Dyes are made from pigments which are mixed with water and bull’s bile. The more bile is there in the dye, the more interesting and full will be the blooming of a drop of dye on paper. Brushes are also made by hand, using a rose twig and horse hair.
Ebru is highly valued by those who understand it. Every image is one of a kind. It is impossible to replicate the image created by the artist jointly with water. It is believed that ebru provides a snapshot from the artist’s soul at that point in time.
If you decide to start making ebru, you will need patience and commitment. It takes time to master these materials. My children love ebru and happily work on it, as the process is so amazing and whimsical.
In my next article I will tell you about modern ebru artists and share more details of our family experience with ebru.
Story by Ekaterina Ryazanova (KatyaCoil)
Translated by Eugenie (MulberryWhisper)
More about the author: Ekaterina is an artist working in many techniques such as painting on silk, stained glass, decoupage and mixed media. See more of her creations at her KatyaCoil shop on Etsy.