Fas­ci­nated by the end­pa­pers of an­ti­quar­ian books, Jemma Lewis cra s unique mar­bled de­signs from her homely back-gar­den stu­dio


Dis­cover Jemma Lewis’s hyp­notic hand-mar­bled pa­pers, in­spired by an­ti­quar­ian books

glance in­side Jemma Lewis’s work­shop re­veals a psy­che­delic tan­gle of colour and pa!ern. A "er discovering the art of mar­bling while work­ing for an an­ti­quar­ian book­binders, Jemma set up a busi­ness cra "ing ar­ti­san pa­pers from home. Now pop­u­lar among big-name fashion brands and pub­lish­ers, Jemma’s pa­pers de"ly blend her­itage meth­ods with con­tem­po­rary colour­ways.

What is your back­ground?

I com­pleted a de­gree in Tex­tile Art and, when I moved back home to Wilt­shire, I took a po­si­tion with a bindery in Bath. While there, the com­pany sent me to learn tra­di­tional pa­per mar­bling with a lady called Ann Muir.

When did you rst dis­cover mar­bling?

At the book­binders, it was my job to go through all of the antique books that came in and make a note of what re­pairs

were needed – and o!en they needed new mar­bled pa­pers to match the orig­i­nals. I was drawn to the colours and the di­ver­sity of the pa"erns that I found, but also by their link with his­tory. I loved how some of the pa­pers, tucked in­side old bind­ings, seemed as fresh and vi­brant as the day they were made.

What is your process?

To be­gin with, I # ll the mar­bling tray with wa­ter and Car­rageen moss (an Ir­ish sea­weed that I buy as a pow­der). This makes a thick, gloopy sub­stance, al­most like wall­pa­per paste, that I can $oat the paints on. I then pre­pare the pa­per with alum – a chem­i­cal to en­sure the paint can stick and won’t rinse o%. I dip a brush in wa­tered- down gouache paint and $ ick the colours across the sur­face – the pa"ern can ei­ther be le! as spots, or swirled us­ing a sty­lus to cre­ate a more in­tri­cate pa"ern. I then lay the alumed pa­per onto the sur­face to trans­fer the pa"ern.

What in­spires you?

‘I like to try new colours and tech­niques. Some­times I don’t know what I’m go­ing to get but, for me, that’s all part of the fun.’

A lot of my de­signs are down to ex­per­i­men­ta­tion. When I have time in the work­shop, I like to try new colours and tech­niques. Some­times I don’t know what I’m go­ing to get but, for me, that’s all part of the fun.

What is your work­shop like?

It’s a log cabin at the bo"om of the gar­den, so I cer­tainly en­joy the com­mute! It’s very much a work­ing space and isn’t an im­mac­u­late stu­dio. The walls are thick with 10 years’ worth of paint spla"ers and the shelves are full of gouache wait­ing to be used. The space is at its best in the sum­mer when we can have the doors open and Milo the cat and Char­lie the

dog can come and lounge in the gar­den nearby.

What has been the proud­est mo­ment of your ca­reer?

Ear­lier this year, I met HRH Prince Charles at the Ro­ma­nian Cul­tural In­sti­tute in Lon­don. I cre­ated some cus­tom hand-mar­bled pa­pers for a spe­cial bind­ing called the

Tran­syl­va­nia Flo­ri­legium,

pub­lished by Ad­di­son Pub­li­ca­tions Ltd. I also work reg­u­larly with The Fo­lio So­ci­ety to cre­ate mar­bled pa­pers for its lim­ited- edi­tion books. And re­cently, I cre­ated de­signs for a book by Florence Welch [of band Florence and the Ma­chine] and I have worked with Jo Malone to mar­ble lids for its iconic per­fume boxes.

What are you work­ing on at the mo­ment?

I’m mar­bling 300 ul­tra-thick sheets for a client to use within their pack­ag­ing. Ev­ery sheet is di !er­ent and I’m us­ing sev­eral coloured base pa­pers.

How do you dis­play your pa­pers at home?

I have lots of mar­bling at home be­cause it’s so ver­sa­tile. I have a favourite framed piece above my bed and a set of lined draw­ers, plus some mar­bled silk rib­bon, which I used on my wed­ding shoes!

Any fu­ture plans?

To keep mar­bling and "lling those dry­ing racks with colour­ful pa­pers. I hope the fu­ture will bring more ex­cit­ing col­lab­o­ra­tions and pro­jects and, fur­ther down the line, I’d love to ex­pand my stu­dio and o!er mar­bling work­shops to larger groups.

ABOVE ‘I’m con­stantly in­spired by colour,’ ex­plains Jemma. ‘I see tonal com­bi­na­tions ev­ery­where – from na­ture to the shades used in vin­tage fab­ric and art.’ BE­LOWLEFT Origami stars made from Jemma’s mar­bled pa­pers.

ABOVE ‘My work­shop isn’t large, but it’s big enough to house ev­ery­thing that I need to mar­ble,’ Jemma says. BE­LOW LEFT & RIGHT A mar­bled copy of The Duke’s Chil­dren, com­mis­sioned by The Fo­lio So­ci­ety. Plus, a mar­bled pen pot in Prim­i­tive Crackle (£10).

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