M A I L / Marbling Magic

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Logging onto Facebook usually means time spent browsing pictures of other people’s vacations, scrolling past unsolicited ads or public opinions on local town happenings. But absolutely nothing compares to the time suck of visual food recipes hosted by Tasty, Delish, and the like. For some reason, we stop, watch, and repeat. Thanks to FB algorithms, if you watch one recipe story through to the end, JACKPOT, Facebook will have another one right below it for your viewing pleasure. I can’t be the only one who says, ‘now that looks delicious. I totally have those ingredients…I could make that.’ But, do we? More often than not, we don’t.

Why? Because, those visual recipe videos are actually quite useless to you until you watch, pause, write, and replay about a dozen times to actually get the ingredients and measurements written down correctly. Further, you need the steps and timing required for success. You actually have to click through to the originator of the recipe to get the directions. My guess is it will turn out close to the video…but not exactly and not until you’ve fussed with the recipe a few times first.

The point of all this is what? (I know…that was a long lead in.) Recently I found myself in the rabbit hole of another video that I absolutely had to try out for myself. No, believe it or not this one wasn’t food related (although a misfire leads to a sample tasting…keep reading for details). No, it’s not a new cleanser that rivals Mr. Clean, or a magic solution that turns rocks from your garden into semi-precious stones.

The original video was sponsored by the USPS and showed in a few easy steps how one can create marbling patterns on envelopes with shaving cream and food coloring. Click HERE to see exactly what I watched. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to embed that video in this post…but lucky for us we have creatives out there on YouTube who do the same thing.

Looks totally easy, right? So let’s do this. I’ve got everything on the list…or should I say video (that I watched no less than a dozen times):

 - Shaving cream (check)

 - Disposable foil tray (I have an old cookie sheet, check)

 - Food coloring (is mine old? We’ll see…check)

 - Straight edge ruler (I refuse to use the metal one in my office, so I get a plastic one for $1.99 – check)

 - Q-tips (in every bathroom…check, check, check)

- Removable tape (sometimes I paint…check)

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Because it’s National Letter Writing month, I shared the link on the Write_On Challenge Facebook page, to see if I was the only crazy one thinking this is easy enough to do at home.  I wait for responses.  (Actually, I sort of challenge my new besties with something like, “who’s doing this with me?”) It doesn’t take long for a few paper-loving letter writers to jump on board.

So one morning last week I was up at 5:00am with ambition and supplies at the ready.  The clock showed an hour to kill before yoga at 6:00am.  It seemed like plenty of time to have coffee and launch into the unknown territory of craft, food coloring, and shaving cream.  (I should tell you now that I prohibited Play-Doh of any kind from entering the home premises because of the mess.) Who was I fooling to think this would be easy and clean? And, yes, I have white stone counters.

A new roll of paper tolls and Soft Scrub with bleach at the ready was going to be my safety net. I brewed a fresh cup of coffee and watched the video one more times…to make sure there wasn’t a sleight of hand I missed.  

Then I uncapped the cream, squirted a pile on my old cookie sheet (so much better than a foil lasagna pan they used…because it’s perfectly flat), spread with a plastic fork and dusted off the box of food coloring that resided in the ‘baking’ drawer.  It may or may not have been the gel variety.  Hmmm?  Squeeze harder until a glob plops out.  Cool. We’re in business.  

Next up was to spread and / or blend slightly with Q-tip, and prep envelope for placement.  The video showed an unspecified 1” thick band of what could have been Washi tape. Mine are all fancy 1/2” decorative tape from Rifle Paper Co. that I can’t part with (aka waste on potential marbling magic that may not work).  I opt for the blue 1.5” painter’s tape that I find in the garage instead.

I’m SHOCKED at how easy this was. I’m in AWE at how cool the marbling turns out. I’m TOTALLY NOT SURPRISED that I tried to blend colors, didn’t like the result, and never tried it again.  I realize I’m a monogamous color ‘marbler.’  I used cream and kraft colored envelopes because that’s what I had in stock.  Had time allowed, I would have rinsed and repeated with the yellow and red dyes.  

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Being part of a group means sharing results, mishaps, and tips of the trade. The general consensus includes:

-      Liquid watercolors work best followed by liquid foodcoloring (versus gel)…get suggested brand HERE

-      Barbasol Original Foam provides the best blend consistency because it’s not too thick

-      Cover the counters with newspaper first

-      Toothpicks work well for spreading and blending

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My new friend, Sarah P., is not afraid of blending color and had great success. She graciously permitted me to share her results with you. Absolutely STUNNING. Notice that she made stationery to match her envelopes. I’ll definitely have to try that next time.

The best piece of advise I can share is NOT to do this first thing in the morning. Give yourself plenty of time, space and paper to play with. Have fun, enjoy the creative process, and reject the idea of perfection.

Oh, but keep in mind, when you scrape off the shaving cream from the envelope, a little will likely get on the back side, where the lick strip is.  Yep – that’s where and how you taste a little of this art project.