Pam Granger Gale is a local marbling artist and instructor who owns Majik Studios, a working art venue and teaching center in downtown Asheville. She credits her foray into marbling to Patty Schleicher, who helped lead the rediscovery of the rather obscure art form in North America in the late 1970s and ’80s.
Schleicher, who remained an active artist until her death in 2004, moved to the Asheville area in 1973. She worked for seven years as a Weaverville librarian and pursued other diverse creative interests, including architecture and design, painting, weaving, sculpture, and bookbinding. Schleicher authored significant books about the history and process of marbling — featuring some of her daughter Mimi’s work — and taught marbling workshops, helping to further revive the ancient craft. (Marbling began in China and moved to Japan, Persia, and then Europe. The process involves colored inks dropped into a thickened water bath to yield elaborate, swirling patterns. An original print is made when paper or fabric is gently lowered onto the floating image.)
What drew you to this complex form?
I took a workshop years ago, and then put marbling on hold while raising my son. Later I was able to devote more time to what I love, which I found out was marbling. Around Asheville, the more you’re into something, the more you find others that are into it, and last year I actually wound up taking a workshop with Mimi [Schleicher], at BookWorks in West Asheville. That’s around the time I opened my own marbling studio.
So it’s in the second generation in the family. And Patty herself was self taught …
She was an avid reader, researcher … and experimenter. Often she’d read a recipe and find out they left out an ingredient, so she would set about troubleshooting and figuring out what went wrong. At first she marbled with oil paints, and she thinned them with kerosene, if you can imagine that. Then she switched to less toxic ways, using water-based colors. … She [went on to write] how-to books, and also went to teach at all the prestigious craft schools [Penland School of Craft, the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, and the John C. Campbell Folk School], and taught one or two week or weekend classes. Her timing for the rediscovery of marbling was perfect, and inspired a whole new generation of people.
It’s safe to say that if not for [finding Schleicher’s books], I would not have encountered marbling.
Wasn’t she the first marbling artist in the Southern Highland Craft Guild?
Yes. She served on their education, program, and marketing committees and the Board of Trustees, and devoted countless hours to set[ting] up the Guild’s craft library. She was awarded a Lifetime Membership [in the guild] for dedicated service. Patty was a woman ahead of her time.
Pam Granger Gale teaches “Beginning Marbling” at Majik Studios (207 Coxe Ave., Studio 13, Asheville), holding classes Mondays and Fridays from 10am-12pm and again from 1-3pm. See majik-studios.com for more information. Asheville Made’s monthly Craft Legacy Series of articles leads up to American Craft Week, a national celebration highlighting objects handmade in the U.S. Artists, galleries, museums, festivals, craft schools, and statewide tours participate with public events from Friday, Oct. 2, through Sunday, Oct. 11. This 10-day “week” is full of activities large and small, hosted by individuals and large organizations. As a major craft center, Western North Carolina will offer a wide variety of happenings. Learn more at americancraftweek.com