To marble fabrics, you're going to need some specialty materials that you might not use for anything else: carrageenan and alum (bought at hardware store). I used plain unbleached muslin for my fabric, tearing it into rectangles that would fit flat into my kitchen sink.
The fabric must be laundered and treated with alum ahead of time so that it can thoroughly dry. The carrageenan also needs to be mixed up ahead of time, at least 24 hours in advance, so you can see that a good deal of planning goes into a marbling session. Day one will consist of prepping the fabric and the size (that's the jelly-like carrageenan mixture that you'll float your paints on), and on day two you can do all your marbling. Plan to do a lot: this is a lot of work to go through for only a few marbled pieces.
I used Pebeo Setacolor fabric paints, but any fabric paints will probably be fine. I recommend Carol Taylor's Marbling Paper and Fabric for it's easy to follow instructions, and if you get into marbling in a big way, I really like Patty Schleicher's book Marbled Designs, which shows you how to achieve many complex patterns you'll love. I began by just playing around with the paints to see what would happen, and as the day progressed, I got more and more tricky. I certainly didn't achieve in one day anything that I was astounded by, but I was still very happy with the brightly colored results!
Besides the books, most of the materials and tools you might want are available in an all-in-one kit from Dick Blick if you can't find what you need locally.
Marbled fabrics - part one
Marbled fabric quilt - part two
Marbled fabric quilt - part three
Marbled fabric quilt - part four
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Copyright 2011 Cyndi Lavin. Not to be reprinted, resold, or redistributed for profit. May be printed out for personal use or distributed electronically provided that entire file, including this notice, remains intact.