Paper Marbling with Shaving Cream

Great results from paper marbling using shaving cream.

Shaving cream as an art medium was something I’d never thought of, but when art instigator Rosaland Hannibal came over today, she demonstrated the excellent results.


  • Shaving cream, not gel. For your nose’s sake, try to find an unscented  brand.
  • Stack of newspapers
  • Inks, acrylic paint, or watercolor paint–in liquid form.
  • A squeegee or 12-inch ruler
  • A plastic fork, several skewers, or a hair pick (see illustration)
  • A small, flat pan or a large piece of wax paper.

    Hair pick

  • Light card stock or drawing paper, even water color paper, about
  • Paper towels and a bag for trash

1. Gather all materials.

Rosaland has the knack for getting a lot of color out of the method.

Spray the shaving cream on the shallow pan or piece of waxed paper. Spray in a rectangle slightly larger than your card stock. Fill in the rectangle, so you have a solid space of shaving cream. Even the top with a ruler so it is the same height all over.

2. Drip on color. You need drops, not a splash. You can use as many colors as you want. I tried using one color family–greens/blues–three colors and one contrast–yellow.

3. Drag the colors around.  Use the hair pick, or skewer. You don’t want to stir, you want to drag the color across the surface in interesting patterns. Use the hair pick to create strips in one direction, then drag the pick the other direction for a traditional marbling pattern.

Blues, greens, and a bit of yellow. This is a second print, so it's a softer pattern.

4. Place the paper, face down, on the prepared shaving cream. Pat down the paper so the entire surface comes in touch with the ink or paint.

5. Lift the paper up, starting at one corner. Lift up the card or paper in one smooth motion. Place it shaving cream side up  on the newspapers.

6. Squeegee off the ink or paint. Use a smooth, firm, steady motion from one end of the paper to the other. The squeegee will drag the paint, so keep the motion in the same direction as you placed the paper for best effects.

7. Take the foam from the squeegee and return it to the foam layer. It will add background to the next layer. The ink doesn’t get muddy. You can make another impression or add more ink. The second print may have a softer look, which is still attractive.

The color runs across the image, but I squeegeed it up and down. You can see the result.

8. Let the paper dry. Iron it between sheets of parchment to set the colors. You can rinse the paper to remove the smell of the shaving cream.

Another paper by Roz. Love this color combination.

Quinn McDonald appreciates the art instigators in her life.

13 thoughts on “Paper Marbling with Shaving Cream

  1. been looking locally for carrageenan, have to order it onlone. now I don’t have to. I’m a pen turner and I want to try something different. I will pre turn a pine pen, then I will roll it in the foam and squeegee it off and see what happens!! Thanks

    • Yes, that is exactly what you do. The foam you squeegee off still has usable ink. It sounds counter-intuitive, I know, to plop used material back on the foam, but you do. Then smooth it out, re-ink if necessary, and do it again. If you look at Rosaland’s samples, you can see the interesting background she achieves.

  2. This is so much fun! I haven’t tried it on paper, but the same process works on fabric. Just use inks or paints that are intended for fabric and heat set before rinsing. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. I didn’t think about heat setting them. if I ever do it again, I will definitely keep that in mind and try rinsing them. Did you use both ink and paint on yours? I also had way too much of the foam on my cookie sheet. I couldn’t find unscented when I was looking. It was fun to do aside from the smell.

    • The unscented is more often at discount stores (look for “sensitive skin”) than the dollar store. I used just ink. And it will run, but that just adds to the charm. Funny, I hate ironing, but I’ll heat set anything. If you hate the smell, you might want to scan the finished product, then print onto a nice piece of paper, cloth or transparency–a bit more trouble, but no smell at all!

  4. I did this several years ago with paper,some shippping tags and also some white envelopes. I couldn’t stand the smell! even months later the tags still smelled like shaving cream and they felt like they had a film on them from the cream. What kind of paper did you use? I used regular copy paper, heavy cover card stock and tags and envelopes. Love the blues/greens colors, is that ink or paint?

    another fun thing to do is use some inks with soap bubbles!

    • That’s why using unscented shaving foam is a good idea. Cheap shaving foam from a dollar store also doesn’t have a lot of moisturizing additives. I used Canson watercolor paper and Strathmore drawing paper, 75 lbs. I let the pieces dry, ironed them to heat set them, then rinsed them off. They don’t smell anymore.

Join the conversation

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.