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Paper marbling
partial sheet of marbled paper, Paper marbling, 2014; Regina and Dan St. John; Amherst, Massachusetts; Paper, acrylic paint; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
partial sheet of marbled paper, Paper marbling, 2014
Regina and Dan St. John
Amherst, Massachusetts
Paper, acrylic paint
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Tiger eye marbling by Dan St. John; Paper marbling; 2014: Amherst; Paper and watercolor paint
Dan showing edge marbling on book; Paper marbling; 2014: Amherst
Genie St. John in her marbling studio; Paper marbling; 2014: Amherst, Massachusetts
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Regina and Dan St. John
Amherst, MA
Web Site
Regina and Dan St. John run Chena River Marblers in the Pioneer Valley, a region known for book arts. They produce stunning marbled patterns on paper and silk. Their marbled paper is used by book binders and paper artists; the silk in the making of scarves and ties.

The process of marbling is almost magical. They prepare a bath of water and a thickening agent, such as carrageenan (:dried seaweed), which allows the paints to float on the surface and be manipulated. Alum-treated paper is gently laid on top to pick up the patterns.

Regina works mostly using acrylic paints for her silk and paper marbling. Dan points out one of her enviable talents, saying, "Genie has got a perfect pitch for colors." Complementing this, is Dan's background as a physics and chemistry teacher, which gives him grounding in the chemical makeup of materials and processes.

Dan builds the equipment, including the many different style combs which, when pulled through the bath, create unique patterns. Because no paint company manufactures colors specifically for marbling, Chena River Marblers create their own paints (grinding up pigments, adding binders, mulling them together(; this allows them more control in how the paint will spread on the liquid surface. Dan favors old-style marbling done with watercolors, where he creates tiger eyes. Together, Genie and Dan St. John convey a passion for the marbling craft, a facility for teaching, and a dedication to passing on the tradition.
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