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Bringing the Art of Marbling in to your home - an Interview with Michele Koopman of Rat Hill Co.


The sheer variety of marbling makes it a uniquely versatile design element to bring in to your home environment

Once confined to (mostly antique) books this mystical art is being embraced in a multitude of new ways to give your home an eclectic and personal stamp. 

Having been marbling for nearly 16 years my own home is a tribute to marbling, containing not just one-of-a-kind pieces I have hand marbled myself but items i've worked on in collaboration with others. This means I also have marbled plates, boxes, letter racks and candles to name a few! With the birth of House of Amitié last year the marbled mix now contains all our marbled cushions and not one but two different marbled lampshades. 

The great thing about marbling is that you can mix and match, the fact that is 'marbled' is enough to ensure continuity and form a cohesive thread. Whilst we don't expect everyone to go full on maximalism with matching marbled wallpaper, chairs, cushions and lamps a marbled nod here and there can make for a wonderful talking point. 

Someone who has long championed marbling as a customer of both Jemma Lewis Marbling and House of Amitié is Michele Koopman of Rat Hill Co.

We asked Michele if she wouldn't mind sharing her own love for marbling by answering a few questions... Hi Michele, tell us a little about yourself! 

Hi! I am an artist and creative living in Oklahoma, US. I worked in the medical field for over a decade and then stayed at home to raise my son. When I am not creating, I volunteer my time to my son’s school. I currently sit on my son’s school board. I also volunteer with the city I live. Formerly I was on the Historic Preservation Trust and currently I sit on the Edmond Visual Art Commission. I also am a local artist with my town’s art community VIBES. I like to be with my family, garden, travel and enjoy a good book with some tea. I have always been a collector and creator. In 2021, I was inspired to start making matchboxes. My grandfather had a large collection of vintage Southwest Art magazines and I started using those. Then shortly after, I was scrolling Etsy and some marbled paper came up and a lightbulb went off. From there it became what can I create with marbled papers! There was nothing I could not cover in my mind. I started adding Intaglios and other ‘ornaments’ to the tops of the matchboxes shortly after and really everything was a snowball effect from there. I challenged myself to build and create and was inspired by others as well.  My ideas are faster than my hands can create (lol).

Thank you for your continued support of both House of Amitié and Jemma Lewis Marbling, can you tell us what it is about the art of marbling that makes it such a special medium for you in your work?
I like to use the phrase ‘perfectly imperfect’ which I cannot take credit for. I know I heard it long ago but no longer remember where. That is what marbling is for me: the perfectly imperfect pattern that is forgiving yet refined. I like the chaos it brings to simple things. It immediately makes an object or a design interesting. It also is a forgiving pattern when as an artist, even if your craft is practiced and skilled, you still make mistakes or if what you are covering is flawed or bumpy. It also mimics nature which I feel is a must in design. Bringing the outside in is a common phrase and I like to create by that. Marbling and it’s “chaos” is no different from nature and hers: a rock bed, the sandy shore, moss covered trees and a forest floor full of sticks and fern...It’s nature in paper form ha!
In a recent Instagram post you stated 'marble everything' obviously we love this philosophy, what are some unique ways people can bring marbling in to their own homes?
Yes to marble everything! Marbling should and can be incorporated into every room, in any location in the home. A marbled frame on the wall or marbled matting/mount inside a frame (or both!) is a fun way to add interest. A marbled pedestal holding anything or nothing, marbled objects of any kind sitting on a shelf are immediately interesting. I've recently been thinking about marbling large rocks as paperweights. Larger objects like furniture are an amazing way to be unique but do run the risk of being daunting to complete or too pricey to purchase. A marbled tray holding table linens or a small pedestal holding the salt shaker looks great for a casual dinner. I have a mini marbled matchbox in every washroom in my home, it is practical and stylish. Mini matchboxes in a bowl is an inexpensive way to add interest to a table. 
You mix and match lots of different marbled patterns, do you think the fact its all marbling naturally ties it together to make it work visually or do you think there are rules for example sticking to the same colour palette or pattern?
I do not think there are rules. In some rooms, I really love having lots of different patterns and colors together creating it’s own world (similar to a marble specimen block). I also like certain patterns and colors in a specific area if it goes in my mind with what the design is, similar to the philosophy as when decorating a space. In one room of my home I have black shelves flanking the fireplace. I wanted all mostly dark (black) items to fill them to have it be a monotone aesthetic. I used a dark stone pattern marbled paper on a pyramid with black intaglios on top as an item to set on one of those shelves. It is an object of interest that still fits with the design of the space. In another room of my home, I have three contrasting marbled papers/patterns/colors all grouped together and it goes perfectly in that space. It feeds the eccentric and chaotic side of my brain. It really is ‘do what you love’. If you love it, you will get a serotonin boost which is what your home should be about for you. 
You recently renovated your bathroom and incorporated our marbled fabric as well as hand marbled paper to cover your mirror. 
Do you have any tips for people who might try to cover frames or mirror surrounds with either marbled paper or our wallpaper? 
Was it hard trying to match the pattern up and what glue did you use, did you have the seal the paper afterwards?
I love my Amitié marbled café curtain so much! I also used the fabric for lampshades on sconces flanking the mirror. Here is the thing that I know a lot of creatives struggle with: doing before thinking lol. Some artists are so good at thinking and planning beforehand and sometimes I am as well. But when it came to the mirror, looking back, I should have planned for the long-term better! The mirror I chose was found in my grandparents garage and belonged to my great grandmother. It was beautiful (if not a tad small for the space) but I immediately knew I wanted to cover it to go in the bathroom. I thought nothing beyond that. When starting the project, I was so eager to being I am pretty positive I didn’t prep the surface correctly. The mirror frame is solid stained wood. I only sort of sanded the wood surround which I know I should have sanded the surface better. It wasn’t heavy with varnish so that is probably why I talked myself out of it. I also didn’t think about the complexity of the curves of the mirror. The intricate detail of the entire frame and the rounded areas were almost impossibly hard. Had I not had such a wonderful marbled paper (thanks Jemma) I would not have been able to continue the project. Almost any wallpaper would have been impossible as wallpaper tends to be thick, even matte wallpaper. Wallpaper works best covering straight lines (a rectangle frame), or larger curves(a large scale convex rounded frame). The pattern matching wasn’t as important to me because I planned out my cuts and matched the pattern beforehand. When covering the torn areas as there were many because of all the curves, I cut out the specific design elements of the marbled paper individually to cover those. It basically blended in without me having to do too much work. Ex: the marbled pattern was peacock so I cut out an individual peacock ‘feather’ piece. That allowed me to naturally work the ‘feather’ into the curve of the frame. I did this by rocking the paper back and forth over the curve to show the paper its surface before gluing. It seemed to work well. 
Another 'do before think' I made was the glue. I used regular white glue (controversial I know) which I only usually use on my matchboxes and I didn’t use the archival bookbinding glue I use on other items. Don’t ask why I did this because I cannot tell you lol. Moral of the story: always use the archival book binding glue. The mirror is holding up for now but I might have to fix it in a few years. We shall see. I also did not seal the paper afterwards as I feel as though the paint which comprises the marbling is a natural seal. Anything I put on top only takes away from the beauty of the marbling. For those talented at lacquering and varnishing, you could do that. I just don’t have that talent for a large scale item.
At House of Amitié we are striving to be as sustainable as possible and we hate waste and love to make use of even the smallest pieces of fabric and wallpaper. Do you have any ideas of what people can make with their A4 wallpaper samples and A6 fabric swatch samples or off-cuts from their projects, to give these little pieces a new lease of life?
Matchboxes! Mini boxes and large boxes. It is such an easy item to cover with scraps of paper. I save all my paper scraps and cover a paper maché egg every Easter. It is time consuming but looks so good when complete. And after a few years you have a bowl full from scraps once slated for the garbage. Depending on the size of scrap, taking an existing framing matte from any art in your home and covering it is an instant upgrade. Pencils and pens are another thing to cover with scraps that look good grouped together. It brings motivation to your office space.
Do specific marbled designs inform what you make or do you decide what to make first then go in search of the right paper? 
I tend to go in search of the right paper. I usually build the item uncovered in my mind or loosely with the elements then I search for the paper. Sometimes the paper is only any accent to the ornament or object on top. I recently started creating pedestals with Roman resin figures (Brutus, David, etc) and I knew I wanted to pair Brutus with a paper the colors that reminded me of one of the spaces I visited in the Academia Gallery in Florence Italy. For that project, I am not sure if the paper led the design or vice versa. I also recently created a large matchbox which I knew I wanted to top with an oyster shell. I then searched for a paper that had an ‘ocean’ element or water element to it. I perhaps do both and can no longer make a distinction lol.
House of Amitié are shortly going to be launching a custom colour service for our 'Flourish' and 'Moucheté' designs which will be available as both fabric and wallpaper. Customers will be able to specify a colour to suit their specific requirements. 
If you had the opportunity to have a one or two colour custom colour-way what would you choose? 
How exciting! It would depend on the project of course but I tend to like more choice and am pretty decisive. A two colour way choice would probably be my preference, however I like the overall concept of custom colors no matter how many the choice. Both the Flourish and Moucheté designs are perfect for this! When choosing, I would probably love a chocolate brown or plum brown for the Flourish design. I tend to be drawn to darker masculine colors so that tracks lol! A two colourway choice I would be drawn to for the Moucheté would be green and blue. Think boxwood green with a grey/blue teal (like a shadow on the sea). I am a lover of blue and green together which mimics nature and in my own backyard I have rounded boxwoods by my pool which contrast so beautifully with the blue grey teal of the water. It’s one of my favourite pallets. 
A big thank you to Michele for such wonderful insight. To see some of her beautiful creations you can find her on Instagram via her handle @rathillco and via Etsy at 
I'll leave you with some photographs Michele has kindly sent us which show the aforementioned Café curtain and the paper covered mirror as well as the lampshades she made with excess fabric she had left over from the curtain. 
You can of course treat yourself to some marbled lampshades via our shop


We would love to hear how you are using your House of Amitié wallpapers and fabrics, especially if you have found inventive and creative ways to use every last bit, please leave us a comment! 

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