Paper Marbling with Shaving Cream!

Paper Marbling with Shaving Cream!
marbeled papers_April 17, 2015

assortment of marbled papers made with shaving cream

Shaving cream paper marbling has been an art project circulating the web for awhile now, and rightfully so…it is super fun! Kids “ooh and ahh” at the incredibly beautiful results they achieve. The project is easy enough for children to do almost entirely on their own, it is tactile, creative, and messy in a really fun way. Everyone will smile throughout the entire process and be so excited from start to finish! This is by far one of my favorite art activities to do with students and a great way to introduce the art of printmaking.

step two, printing collagraphs on marbled papers

Although the process is fun and the marbled papers are beautiful in and of themselves, as an art teacher I always want to make sure that the learning objectives of projects extend beyond “pretty and fun.” There are a lot of creative explorations that can be done with marbled papers. Historically, paper marbling is a process linked with book making. Certain marbling materials and techniques are also transferable to some fabrics and is therefore a textile process too. Since paper marbling is a method of printmaking, I thought I would take this project a step further and use marbled papers as backgrounds and inspiration for collagraph prints!

Collagraphs are also a ton of fun and easy to accommodate for all age levels. Many printmaking techniques require carving into blocks with sharp tools to remove layers for inking, therefore print making tends to be a method reserved for older students (some carving methods can be safely done at around age 8 with proper instruction and monitoring). Collagraphs, though, are made by building up a surface and then inking it; no sharp or dangerous tools necessary, making this a great technique for kids. Don’ t think this is just a process for kids though, as it can become increasingly complex and is a really organic and creative form of print making for high schoolers and adults as well. To make the process even easier for young kids though, I recommend using sticky-backed foam sheets (regular foam sheets can be applied with glue) to create beautiful collagraph prints.

In this post, I will demonstrate the process for making gorgeous marbled papers with shaving cream, and in the next post I will discuss how to make simple yet stunning collagraph prints on the marbled papers.

Learning Objectives

This lesson explores the art form of printmaking and encourages creativity through the use of unconventional materials. Students are introduced to the definition of printmaking and a brief history about paper marbling. Discuss color theory (warm/ cool, analogous, complementary, triads, etc) in order to for students to choose which colors to  swirl together to create interesting color harmonies and mixing.


There are a variety of materials that can be used for paper marbling. Traditionally, oil pigments are used and they are floated on a liquid solution. Interestingly, shaving cream works extremely well as a transferring medium and is perfect for use with liquid watercolors or even food coloring, making this process kid friendly, easy to clean up, and very fresh smelling! :)

Having been an art teacher for ten years, there are certain materials I recommend that are

shaving cream, liquid watercolors, paper, tray, stick, squeegee, paper towels

shaving cream, liquid watercolors, paper, tray, stick, squeegee, paper towels

tried and true. If you don’t have access to these materials, there are substitutes, but I cannot guarantee the same results and it may take some trial and error to figure out how to best manipulate the materials. I purchase most of my materials from, an art supply company that is dedicated to providing high quality products at a competitive cost. I actually use a lot of their brand name materials, because they are often as good in quality as brand names, but at a much lower cost.

  1. Canson XL Watercolor Paper cut to size (I made mine 6×8 for this project, but have done 9×12 and even 11X14 in the past)
  2. Blick Liquid Watercolors (undiluted)
  3. Shaving Cream (not gel!)
  4. Art Tray or Baking Sheet
  5. Spatula
  6. Squeegee (or Ruler)
  7. Popsicle Stick, Skewer, or Paint Brush Handle (to swirl colors in shaving cream)
  8. Paper Towel


Step One: Preparing for Printmaking

Organize your space with all of the necessary materials. Spray a layer of shaving cream on the tray and then spread evenly with the spatula.

shaving cream_April 17, 2015

spray a layer of shaving cream onto tray


spatula_April 17, 2015

spread shaving cream with a spatula to create an even layer


Pick out 3-5 colors and begin dripping them onto the surface of the shaving cream. A dropper works great for this, but I usually just have my students dip a paint brush handle into the paints and  have them carefully drip it over their shaving cream. Have paper towel sheets readily available so that the handle of the paint brush can be wiped off before switching to a new color.

dropping_April 17, 2015

use a dropper or dip the handle of a paint brush into watercolors and drip onto shaving cream


drops_April 17, 2015

use colors that will mix well and create color harmony


Once the colors are placed on the surface of the shaving cream, use a popsicle stick, skewer, or skinny paint brush handle to swirl the colors together. Minimal swirling will leave more white space, where as too much swirling will muddy up the colors. Discuss “knowing when to stop” before diving into this step :).

swirling_April 17, 2015

use a popsicle stick, skewer, or handle of a paintbrush to swirl colors together


Step Two: Pulling the Print

When the colors are swirled to satisfaction, take the paper and lay it face down on the surface of the shaving cream. Gently pat and rub the paper so that there are no air pockets underneath the paper and it is perfectly squished down onto the color swirled shaving cream.

laying paper_April 17, 2015

lay paper face down on swirled shaving cream and gently rub so that there are no air pockets



Carefully lift the corner of the paper off the shaving cream and remove entirely.

pulling marble_April 17, 2015

lift paper off of shaving cream by one corner


Lay the paper down face up onto a clean surface (another tray works well for maintaining the mess), and then with a squeegee or a ruler, scrape the shaving cream off of the paper. Ooh and Ahh at your beautiful marbled paper!

pulled marble_April 17, 2015

lay paper face up on a clean tray or surface


squeegee 1_April 17, 2015

squeegee off shaving cream


squeegee 2_April 17, 2015

final print revealed! ooh, ahh! so beautiful!


Step Three: Do it Again!

You can add more colors and swirl them into your first layer so that your original colors act as a light tint to the entire surface of the paper, or you can add another layer of shaving cream on top of your first layer for a fresh start.

second marbling_April 17, 2015

add more colors and swirl, or add a clean layer of shaving cream on top and do the process again


marbeled papers_April 17, 2015

assortment of marbled papers waiting to be used for collagraph printing!

Stay tuned for Part Two: Collagraph Printmaking! If you have other creative ideas for art projects utilizing paper marbling, leave a comment!


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blog portrait_thumbnail3hi! i’m trish, and welcome to my cozy home on the internet. i am an artist, art teacher, life-long-learner, and lover of life. there is not much i don’t love. some of my many favorites include creating with my hands, the color green, birds, smiling, and outdoor adventures. some of my not so favorite things include spiders, bell peppers, and math. (more...)

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