Affordable original art

Affordable Original Art |marbled paper

We have a longish hallway in the upstairs of our 1920’s bungalow — in my mind’s eye, I’ve always thought it would be a perfect gallery to showcase original artwork. But as we all know, it can be extremely difficult to find quality original art on a budget! After seeing this beautiful DIY botanical hanging print by Joanna Gaines, I briefly considered doing a series of prints — but I really wanted original pieces, so I never pulled the trigger. And for two years, our hallway walls remained empty.

But it’s amazing how inspiration can strike when you least expect it. We were at a friend’s house for dinner, and he offered to show us his book collection. And when I say book collection — I mean a BOOK collection. As in, hand-bound leather collector’s books with original illustrations — and with professionally hand marbled paper at the front and back,

Image via Jemma Lewis

Hand Marbled Paper

Most of us are probably a little bit familiar with marbled paper, and may have even done some marbled paper craft projects when we were kiddos — did you ever pour nail polish into water and let a piece of card stock float on top so that the nail polish transferred to the paper? That essentially is marbled paper on a very amateur level.

But I had NO IDEA how incredibly intricate and breathtakingly gorgeous hand marbled paper looks when it is done at the professional level — each piece is a uniquely and exquisitely crafted work of art! (See this 3 minute YouTube video for a summary of the process). And amazingly, for original art, it is insanely affordable. I immediately knew that I wanted to hang a series of marbled paper in my hallway!

Image via Jemma Lewis

My friend kindly pointed me in the direction of the talented Jemma Lewis, a U.K.-based marbled who studied with legendary marbler Ann Muir. She has so many gorgeous papers that it was incredibly difficult to narrow my picks down to just a few! But I eventually settled on these:

Images via Jemma Lewis Marbling

Aren’t they gorgeous?! To my eye, they read as abstract art with an Old World aesthetic — an unexpected and beautiful juxtaposition. To keep things cohesive, I chose a color palette of red, deep pink, off-black, and ink blue.

I also couldn’t help throwing this little piece marbled on an antique dictionary page:

Image via Jemma Lewis Marbling

To frame my marbled papers, I used the previously mentioned DIY tutorial by Joanna Gaines. They were super easy to do, and I’m thrilled with how they turned out! The frames play up the “old world” vibe of the papers and add character without stealing the spotlight.

Marbled antique dictionary page hung over a handmade linen chest from the 1800’s (crafted by my husband’s great-something uncle!)

A closer look:

One of a kind & done on vintage paper from the 1960’s

Also done on vintage paper from the 1960’s

This one makes my heart sing and might be my favorite of the bunch — my photography really doesn’t do it justice!

This one has a gorgeous, subtle shimmer and catches the light beautifully.

We accidentally overpaid, so we asked Jemma to include a “surprise” bonus paper!

dictionary page

My hand marbled papers bring a smile to my face every time I go upstairs — and the amazing part is that my total cost for filling my long hallway with six gorgeous pieces of original artwork was just over $150, including the frames! Here is my breakdown:

  • $116 (including shipping): 6 marbled papers
  • $30: dowels
  • $5: screw eyes
  • $0: twine (already owned)
  • $0: wood stain (leftover from another project)

TOTAL: $151

Jemma’s papers are either one of kind or produced in very small batches, so the papers I chose are no longer available. Here are my current picks:

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!

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