The Muslim Students’ Association hosted a Sip n’ Paint event Friday night in the Brennan Room of the Interfaith Chapel and taught students about Turkish Ebru art, a paper marbling technique. 

The event was part of the Muslim Students’ Association’s (MSA) general member meeting, and included a presentation about Islamic art and Ebru from the group’s Business Manager, Mariam Bamba, Class of 2024. After Bamba’s presentation, Zeynab Abdullayeva, Advisor to Muslim Students and an advocate for the MSA, taught students the techniques of the freeform water marbling. 

Ebru originated in Uzbekistan and made its way to Turkey with the migration of the Muslim people, according to Abdullayeva. In Turkey, Ebru flourished. 

To make Ebru, the artist begins with a large tray filled with still, clean, mineral water. The artist then adds the ink, made from a mix of fluid from an animal’s gallbladder, mineral dyes, and a special type of gum harvested from the tragacanth plant. The ink’s composition allows it to flow in the water without breaking apart. 

Using an especially bristly paintbrush or even the ink dropper itself, the artist scatters the ink onto the surface of the water. Then, they use a thin, long, needle-like tool called a marbling awl to manipulate the ink and create more intricate designs on the surface. 

Because ink suspended in water is a freely moving, uncontrollable force, the art of Ebru forces the artist to relinquish all control in their project and allow the water and ink to decide what the final outcome will look like. Abdullayeva says she believes this is why Ebru is considered such a meditative and spiritual process; the natural course of ink in water takes away the control of the artist and returns it to nature. 

Not only does Ebru teach the artist a wonderful lesson about control, the movement of the ink through water and the colors swirling make Ebru a satisfying craft to watch. “I think someone should make a TikTok of just Ebru,” said one of the students in attendance, to which everyone else agreed. 

Dinner was provided as everyone took turns creating their own Ebru to take home with them. A few collaborative pieces were made, including a butterfly on a sunny day and an ocean scene. Both pieces reflected the vast possibilities Ebru art provides. Gorgeous abstract pieces mimicked the natural beauty of feathers in vibrant hues as well. Those who had an itch to create not satisfied by the Ebru alone could also paint their own canvases with acrylic paint. 

The evening was filled with much ooh-ing and aah-ing as students watched each others’ pieces spring to life and experimented with various techniques. The event even went past its scheduled end time of 8 p.m. Opportunities on campus to create art for the sake of relaxation and without cost are difficult to come by for students with schedules packed to the brim, so many of the students there were eager to learn about a new type of art while lifting up their peers through the positive responses. Overall, the Muslim Students’ Association’s Sip n’ Paint sent many students home with a weight lifted off their shoulders — and a few extra pieces of artwork of their own in their hands. 

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