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Mesmerizing art takes shape at Marbley in Coupeville

Visit the only shop in the Pacific Northwest offering water marbling art sessions. #k5evening

COUPEVILLE, Wash. — Disclaimer: This episode is an encore presentation of KING 5's Evening. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Marbley cut the number of appointments, please visit their site for further information.

An ancient art form is getting new life on Whidbey Island.

Marbley, located in the heart of downtown Coupeville, gives customers the chance to hand-paint silk scarves using the technique known as “marbling.” Patterns are created from blending paint suspended on the water.

"If we tell people we're water marblers or we do marbling art, we still get a 'huh?'" said Ed Hodson.

Credit: KING TV
Ed Hodson creates a pattern out of acrylic paint suspended on a water/gel base.

He and Joan Samson own and operate the shop. They first got interested in fluid artwork years ago, when they owned a coffee shop in San Francisco and learned about latte art.

Marbling is an extension of the medium, with far more historic roots.

"Best we know is that it started in Japan around the 12th century,” Hodson said. “It was called ‘suminagashi’ and depending on the translation, I've heard it's either ‘ink floating on water’ or ‘ink dancing on water.’ I like the second one best."

At Marbley, customers can design and marble their own scarf for $39. Hodson and Samson provide acrylic paint, tools, trays, and guidance.

Credit: KING TV
Reporter Kim Holcomb holds up a silk scarf she made using the water marbling technique.

"It's an accessible experience for everyone, anyone can do it, it's intuitive, and there are no mistakes in this art form,” Samson said.

The process is simple – paint is dripped into a tray, on top of a water/gel mixture. That mixture prevents the colors from combining.

To create patterns, the colors are blended using sticks and small rakes. The shapes and patterns can be manipulated in endless ways. It’s as soothing to watch as it is to practice.

"Sometimes we joke that we're selling people meditations that they can take with them,” Hodson said, laughing. "It really does stop that chatter in your mind, it's very zen.”

Walk-ins are welcome but it’s best to call ahead or book a session online. Marbling is safe for children - Samson and Hodson's son has been using the technique since age 3.

Marbley is located on NW Front Street in Coupeville.

Disclaimer: This episode is an encore presentation of KING 5's Evening. Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Marbley cut the number of appointments, please visit their site for further information.

Sponsored by Visit Bellingham. KING 5's Evening celebrates the Northwest. Contact us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Email.