We want to stay connected and creative with our community during these unprecedented times. 

For the next few weeks, arts instructor Elisabeth Herrera is sharing virtual activities in the Virtual Pop-UP to keep you inspired. Follow along with each activity and share your creations with us on Instagram (@atlantacontemporary) or email support@atlantacontemporary.org and we will share it in our stories! 

We look forward to seeing everyone’s creations and continuing the excellent conversations we usually have in person in a digital space.

Paper Marbling Activity

This paper marbling activity utilizes alternative media. Since many of us are hunkering down we are sharing around-the-house tricks and techniques for creating unique and engaging works. These activities are planned for any age level and can be modified easily to use anything you have on hand in your own house.

Art is everywhere! Lets get creating.

What is it?
Paper marbling is a process which utilizes intricate swirling patterns to create decorative papers. The effect is oftentimes similar to veining patterns in marble. To see how the pros do it check out this video. We will be doing a much easier process, so you’ve got this!

Love artworks with handcrafted paper processes? Check out our studio artist Kelly Taylor Mitchell at atlantacontemporary.org or her personal website.

Watch our video on YouTube to watch how it is done.


• Paper (any thing from printer paper to junk mail will work, but not glossy paper so no magazines for this process)
• Food coloring
• Shaving cream
• Pencil (pen, chopstick, or any tool you’d like to use to manipulate the color)
• Towel
• Small cardboard scrap (A cereal box but any sturdy paper or cardboard will work great)

    Step 1: Lay down your surface to be marbled.

    • Shake up your shaving cream and lay down a layer about one inch larger than your paper.
    • Use your hand to spread out the shaving cream into an even layer.

      Step 2: Add drops of food coloring

      • Think about the color scheme you would like to use for this work. The colors will become mixed together so be thoughtful in your color choices. Not sure? Try using warm colors or cool colors.
      •Place dots of color evenly around your marbling surface. A little color goes a long way, so don’t go overboard.

        Step 3: Marble it!

        • Use the pencil/chopstick to create swirling patterns in the marbling surface. Experiment with different hand motions to see which techniques you like best.
        •Be sure to create your motif to the edge of your marbling surface, that way your paper will receive maximum color.

          Step 4: Transfer Color

          • It is time to transfer the color from the marbling surface onto your paper.
          • Place the paper down on top of the marbling surface. **once you have placed the paper down do not shift it** this will disrupt your design. Just drop the paper down and leave it where it lies.
          • Press down very gently and evenly to ensure the paper is making full contact with the marbling surface.

            Step 5: Reveal

            • Peel back your paper and lay it flat on the table.
            • Use the small piece of cardboard to remove the excess shaving cream
            • Voila!! You made a fantastic piece of marbled paper! This paper can be made into a greeting card, gift wrap, organizing labels, and anything else you can think of.

              Step 6: Repeat!

              • Wanna do it again? Simply smooth out your shaving cream, add more dots of color, and repeat the process all over again.
              • The shaving cream will last for several prints.
              • When finished simply wipe up the shaving cream and enjoy your new decorative paper and your fresh smelling table top.
              • **In our experience the work surface has not been discolored by food coloring, however, if you are concerned with your work surface simply wrap a cutting board in plastic wrap, use the wrapped board as your marbling surface, and remove the wrap when you have finished.

                Thanks for creating with us! Until next time, think of some other ways to use shaving cream or food coloring to be creative. We’d love to see what you’re making.


                Elisabeth Herrera-Very

                Elisabeth Herrera-Very is a teaching artist and art educator working in Atlanta. A former public school visual arts teacher she now focuses on community engagement and museum education. As a teaching artist she develops programming that provides inclusive, thoughtful, and relevant art experiences for participants of all ages and skill levels. Her programming at Atlanta Contemporary encourages patrons to explore their own creative process through contemporary art making practices and exploratory art making.


                Watch our instructional paper marbling video on YouTube to see how it is done.

                Upcoming Events

                April 27 / 2:00pm
                Special Event

                MuSEA Slow Reads


                Folks get to activate MuSEA’s mobile library by relaxing at the Atlanta Contemporary and reading selected texts out loud to each other.

                April 28 / 12:00pm
                Contemporary Kids

                Contemporary Kids


                A free and interactive family-friendly program, Contemporary Kids introduces children to contemporary art and artists through approachable media and hands-on activities.

                May 2 / 6:30pm
                Contemporary Cocktails

                Crafts + Cocktails


                Join artist and educator Sherrice Adams for our adult craft night, Crafts + Cocktails.

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                We encourage you to share your images using #atlantacontemporary. Read our full photography policy.