About Sarah Amatt
Suminagashi, or Japanese marbling, is the art of floating (nagashi) ink (sumi) on water. It dates back to the Heian period in Japan (794-1185) and is the precursor for all other marbling techniques. Getting the ink lines to float on the water is a practical skill of touching an ink-laden brush to the surface followed by another brush of spreading agent to form myriad rings of ink. Keeping them from sinking or conversely sitting too thickly on the water is part of the skill of preparing the inks and then watching closely to see how they move on the water surface. Sometimes the ink is blown, sometime stirred with a stick or fanned, the design emerging slowly. Suminigashi is essentially an act of allowing and relinquishing control rather than striving to achieve a planned outcome. Paper or washi is lowered onto the water surface to absorb the ink to then be lifted off and hung up to dry. The resulting print is a one-off, a monoprint; no design can be repeated as the conditions are never the same. I use Tosa and Sekishu washi, both of which contain kozo fibre ( a type of mulberry bush). They are very strong and absorbent, perfect for suminagashi, but also translucent enough to give a soft, clear light when used as a lampshade.