Suminagashi and Color

Yesterday, you saw the technique of marbling paper using sumi ink. I decided to build on Swarup’s  project and take it in a different direction–suminagashi, a Japanese technique of floating ink on water with a brush, creating a pattern, then printing it on paper.

Creativity is a wonderful experience–it is elastic and unique to each of us. That’s the beauty of experimentation and creativity–there is always more to discover, more to explore.

Here is the finished project–a quote written on a suminagashi journal page.


The quote is from Harvey MacKay: “Take risks–you are a lot better off being scared than being bored.”

Here is a variation in gold:


And here is how you can do it, too.


You’ll need the following items from Yasutomo:


Start by filling the pan with tap water, about an inch and a half deep. If you have hard water like we do in Phoenix, that’s fine. Don’t use distilled water, you won’t get good results.

Using two bamboo brushes, dip one in vegetable oil and blot it so it won’t drip oil. It should be wet with oil, but blotted, not dripping.  Load the other brush with sumi ink. It should be full, but not dripping.


Touch the sumi ink brush to the surface, and it will spread in a circle on the water. Then touch the oiled brush into the center of the circle, and the oil will push away the ink. Alternate ink and oil. The red in the bottom is some watercolor I added to show depth–that the sumi ink is floating on the surface.


Meanwhile, wet the gold ink/paint, load a clean brush and paint it across a piece of paper. Don’t worry about being too even, the unevenness is perfect. Allow to dry completely.


You need the oil to push the ink back. Without the oil, you still get great patterns, but they are not as intricate. The pattern above was made without oil. You can see the gold paint that I floated very carefully on the surface. It likes to sink.


When you have enough concentric circles in the pan, blow across the surface to shift the ink into patterns and then place a sheet of paper on the surface, rolling it onto the surface evenly to avoid blank spaces. The best paper to use is watercolor paper or mixed media paper. Hard surfaces, like Bristol Board, won’t accept the ink as easily.

Allow the papers to dry. Iron them on the back to keep them flat and even.

Mix and dilute Splash Inks to create several transparent colors. I used a lot of water and then applied them with a water brush for a very transparent look.


When the inks are dry, choose a quote and write over the completed piece. Above is a detail so you can see the color on the suminagashi. You can use any stage–plain, colored, colored with writing for journal pages or for cards. Just trim out the piece that you like.


When the gold ink is completely dry, suminagashi over the gold. This is an easy project with great results!

Quinn McDonald  loves experimenting with almost any medium. She is a collage artist and certified creativity coach and the principal of QuinnCreative.

One thought on “Suminagashi and Color

  1. Pingback: Suminagashi in Color and Gold | QuinnCreative

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s