Mustafa and Mine Calik bring to TMY the art of Ebru, a traditional Turkish painting art, also called marbling. It is done by painting on water and transferring this painting onto paper. Gum tragacanth is added to the water to yield a thickened liquid, and horse hair brushes are used to apply paints which are insoluble in water. The floating colors are then carefully manipulated either by blowing on them directly or through a straw, fanning the colors, or carefully using a brush to stir the colors. The paint is then carefully transferred to an absorbent surface, such as paper or fabric. Through several centuries, people have applied marbled materials to a variety of surfaces. It is often employed as a writing surface for calligraphy, and especially book covers and endpapers in bookbinding of important manuscripts and holy books. Part of its appeal is that each print is unique.
Specimens of marbled paper have been found in Turkish museums and private collections from as far back as the 15th century. It is thought that tradesmen brought this art to Europe in the 16th century. Booklovers prized this technique and it has subsequently been used up to modern times in countries throughout Europe and Asia, as well as in the United States.
Mine and Mustafa have been demonstrating at TMY for many years. They are recipients of a 2018 Southwest Folklife Alliance’s Master-Apprentice Artist Award.