How to Make a Suminagashi With Acrylic and Turpentine

Things You\’ll Need

  • Shallow tray

  • Acrylic paints

  • Small cups

  • Toothpick

  • 1/4-cup turpentine

  • Fine paintbrush

  • Single hair

  • Thin paper

  • Paper towel

Japanese calligraphy Suminagashi was used to decorate tanka poetry in ancient Japan. Image Credit: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images

Create intricate marbling on paper with a suminagashi technique using arcylic paint and turpentine. Suminagashi dates back to 12th century Japan and translates to "ink floating." Craft your own style of suminagashi paper by using acrylic paint rather than ink. Add turpentine to water to disperse the paint and form patterns. Use thin paper for the project, such as rice or lightweight watercolor paper.

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Step 1

Pour water into a shallow tray, such as a lasagna pan or a clean cat litter tray, so it is halfway full. Mix together an almond-sized amount of acrylic paint with 2 tsp. of water in a small cup. Mix together any colors of paint you plan on using with water in other small cups.

Step 2

23602876 Subsitute the toothpick with a fine artist\’s paintbrush. Image Credit: Hemera Technologies/ Images

Pour one-quarter cup of turpentine into another small cup. Dip a toothpick into a cup with paint and then dip the toothpick with the paint into the center of the water tray. Just touch the surface of the water.

Step 3

Saturate a fine paintbrush in the turpentine. Gently dip the brush into the water tray where you dipped the paint. This creates color rings in the water.

Step 4

Dip another toothpick in a different acrylic paint color. Insert it carefully into the water tray. Add the turpentine brush to the area of the new color of paint.

Step 5

Blow the surface of the water to form a marbling pattern with the paint colors. Swirl the colors with a single strand of hair. The craft works best if you are gentle with your movements.

Step 6

Lay thin paper over the surface of the water. When it is completely covered, lift it straight up. Dry the paper on a sheet of paper towel completely before using.


Every time you add more paint to the water, add turpentine to break up the paint into circle patterns.

Food coloring or water-based ink can substitute the acrylic paint.

Detergent mixed with water can also replace the turpentine.

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