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Re: Marbled Paper/ox gall



Iris Nevins mentions that there are two sorts of ox gall and that the
artist's version (i.e., that used by watercolor painters) is not suitable
for traditional marbling.

This is true.  To explain for the beginners, ox gall is another name for
bile and it comes (mostly) from the gall bladders of cattle.

The darkness noted in most commercially available ox gall occurs because
there are still some suspended solids in the solution.  The ox gall I have
made from fresh gall bladders is a light, clear yellow color, has no
particular odor and is a far stronger surfactant than what I have
purchased.

Briefly, after expressing the bile into a beaker I add ethyl alcohol (about
50% of the volume of bile) and stir it throughly.  After setting for a few
days the solution is reasonably clear; after a month or so it is about as
clear as it will become.

For watercolorist's ox gall the procedure is quite different.  The bile is
divided into equal portions.  Alum (one oz. of alum per pint of bile) is
combined with boiling bile; common salt (same proportions) is added to the
other pint of boiling bile.  They are then set aside until the suspended
matter has settled (this can take months) and then the clear portions are
combined for use.  Ox gall has a long shelf life.

Acetic acid and chlorine gas have been used (is being used?) to make very
clear ox gall.

I distribute a couple of videotapes about traditional paper marbling.  One
is from a Guild of Book Workers Standards Seminar and features Paula
Gourley (Turkish Marbling); the other features Don Guyot (Ebru: Paper
Marbling in the Turkish Tradition) and that one includes a brief walk-on by
me, showing how to prepare traditional ox gall.

Details are available on my web page: http://www.teleport.com/~tcl

Jack

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab.
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, OR  97217

www.teleport.com/~tcl


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