This L.A. designer is putting an elegant spin on the DIY craft of marbling
Inside Paige Cleveland’s downtown Los Angeles studio, founder of the Rule of Three home decor website.(Christina House / For The Times)
Paige Cleveland manipulates the paint for one of her designs.(Christina House / For The Times)
Paige Cleveland lays the paint for one of her designs at her studio in downtown Los Angeles.
(Christina House / For The Times)
Paige Cleveland, left, and apprentice Emma Neill work in Cleveland’s studio.(Christina House / For The Times)
Modern heirlooms for the home inside the studio of Paige Cleveland.(Christina House / For The Times)
Paige Cleveland creates marbled home goods and personal accessories.(Christina House / For The Times)
A tote bag from Rule of Three.(Christina House / For The Times)
Marbled pieces hang after being laid on top of the paint bath for the design to transfer.(Christina House / For The Times)
Inside artist and designer Paige Cleveland’s downtown Los Angeles studio.(Christina House / For The Times)
First came macramé, then ceramics, indigo dying and quilting.
Los Angeles designer Paige Cleveland is revisiting another DIY craft tradition: hand-painted marbling.
In this delicate process, paints are floated in a liquid. The artist then takes advantage of the surface tension of the paints, which keep their distinct color yet spread to make contact. A sheet of paper or a textile swath is then gently and quickly laid on top of the bath for the design to transfer.
“Something happened,” Cleveland said. The creative lightning bolt moment made her think: “I gotta figure this out. It needs to evolve and have a fresh take.”
Cleveland — who at the time was a graphic designer in the fashion industry and museum exhibition fields — began to experiment with applying the time-honored technique to textiles in prints, patterns and colors.
She has since launched a home goods and personal accessories collection, under the Rule of Three brand.
Seating poufs, silk throw pillows, lampshades, eye pillows and oversized canvas totes reflect Cleveland’s mastery of the process, exacting color schemes and understanding of scale.
“I’m using the [classic] technique, but in a much different way,” Cleveland explained of the complex, multi-step marbling method.
Retailers include Barneys, Nickey Kehoe and Hammer and Spear, as well as interior design clients who collaborate with Cleveland on custom panels to be adapted into items such as wallpaper and window treatments.
Cleveland also practices traditional Japanese shibori dying, a kind of tie-dye treatment. Cleveland aims to keep all aspects of Rule of Three as local as possible, relying on her experience coordinating among L.A. textile contractors from the years she worked at Juicy Couture.
She said an artist and a place helps inspire each new design (Cy Twombly and New Orleans are recent examples), and she then picks a colorway to guide the chromatic combinations.
Her crafts delicately balance deliberate intention with the unpredictability of how paints floating in a viscous bath might behave when those elements make contact with a blank surface.
No two outcomes are exactly alike.
“It’s a very organic thing,” she says of the aesthetic result that can evoke images of paper and book arts pioneered during the Renaissance in Florence, Italy, while adding a calming, contemporary feel to of-the-moment settings.
Here, Cleveland offers an exclusive look at how she creates marbled textiles on Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions she built. Precision is key. “Everything has its place. It gets arty, and then it gets real dirty,” she said.