Carrageen, inside and out!
We’ve created a premium gin with a distinctive taste, so it has been important to us for this to be reflected in the packaging too and make the finished product as unique on shelf and online as it is in the mouth. But it had to be relevant as we fundamentally believe in quality, style and substance.
Jemma Lewis, a hand-marbling artist based in Wiltshire, England was commissioned by the creative team behind Barra Atlantic Gin to create a bespoke hand-marbled pattern to be used throughout the brand's activation.
Jemma uses carrageen to help float the paints that create the marble designs, giving us a unique link between our gin’s key botanical ingredient and the creation of our packaging.
Our brief for Jemma focused on referencing the Atlantic Ocean that surrounds the Isle of Barra, in particular the shores from which we source our carrageen. The aim was to create something organic and flowing; not immediately recognisable but reminiscent of the sea.
A few words from Jemma –
‘One of the most important materials we use is 'Carragheen Moss'. It’s important to us as it forms the basis of all of our marbling and without it we would not get the clarity vibrancy and detail we need. Although the natural seaweed itself can be strained and boiled as we are commercial rambler’s we use the 'moss' in a powdered form. We mix up the same amount everyday with boiling water using a large bucket and plasterers drill making about 15 litres.
The carrageen when mixed with water acts as a thickener and becomes a viscous substance. We always make the 'size' as we refer to it as the night before, leaving it overnight to settle down, thicken up and for all the bubbles to dissipate. When poured into our tray and watered down more, in-situ with some tap water, we are ready to marble. We use watercolour gouache paints and fan brushes to apply the paint directly onto the surface of the size. Due to the consistency of the size itself and how we prepare the paints they float on the surface rather than sinking. This allows us to create complex patterns using tools like a stylus and combs handmade with needles to create many of the well-known marbled patterns.
When we are happy with our design we lay a sheet of paper onto the surface (which has been treated with a mordant to ensure the paint sticks), give it a little tap then lift it back up again to reveal that the pattern has now transferred itself onto the sheet of paper. We then lightly the surface to break the tension on the 'size' and start again to create another sheet!’
We think she’s done a great job.