Suminagashi Marbled Paper Journals

Suminagashi Marbled Paper Journals handmade by Ruth Bleakley

I thought you might like to see how some of the paper I received in Japan was put to good use in these gorgeous one of a kind journals. I got to witness this paper being marbled for a Japanese TV show I was on – you can read about it here: Paper Marbling in Kyoto . Suminagashi is the Japanese word for “floating ink” that refers to all marbled paper. Black and white is traditional because hand-ground sumi ink used in traditional calligraphy and brush writing is usually black. It can be done on a much smaller scale at home, too! You can find directions I wrote here, along with links to find the materials online: Suminagashi Marbling Directions and Troubleshooting Tips.  The paper you see here was only done with black ink, the gray variations were created by different shades of ink being deposited on the surface of the water during the marbling process. Fanning the surface of the water caused the pattern to swirl in a beautiful, organic way that reminds me of marble.

black and white marbled paper from Japan - 1

I was working with this paper at night, so my desk lamp gave it a sort of yellowish cast – it’s gorgeous all in one piece as you can see above – in fact it took me nearly 6 months to decide to cut it up for projects! But I kept in mind how pretty the final books would turn out. I figure it’s better to turn one large sheet of beautiful paper into many books that people all over will love and enjoy and look at all the time, rather than keep that same sheet rolled up in my studio forever!

fast forward to covering the journal front and back covers, and taking them out of the press (if you’re interested in learning how to make your own journals, check out this post: 5 Great How To Books on Bookbinding):


Take a closer look at the endpapers – another type of marbled paper by the same artist – same ink, same paper, but a COMPLETELY different effect, because he used combs instead of letting the ink flow around naturally.

Black and White Marbled Suminagashi Journal handmade by Ruth Bleakley - 4

Handmade Suminagashi Journals in the making by Ruth Bleakley - 1

I love prepping a bunch of journals at once and then doing all the sewing while binge-watching a TV show I’ve been meaning to watch, I love keeping my hands busy.

You can check and see if I have any of these Suminagashi journals available for sale in my etsy shop. They go pretty fast because they’re so cool looking and each one is totally different – but as you can see, I had a huge piece of paper to start with!

Suminagashi Journals by Ruth Bleakley for Sale

Handmade Book by Ruth Bleakley with Suminagashi Marbled Paper - 5



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About the Author




Your trip to Japan was fascinating and I’m sure you will treasure that memory always. The Suminagashi journals with the fanned ripples are beautiful!


I was looking at your large roll of sumimagashi paper, superbly done. How large was the tray you printed it in?


I’m looking at the Tv program you were in, in Japan right now.
Beautiful! Made us all smile through happy tears.
Sending you love across the waters


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