Meet Tie Dye 2.0… Body Marbling.
I had never heard of this before yesterday.
Body marbling is a hydro-painting process in which drops of paint are added to a fluid surface, allowing individuals to dip their arms or body to transfer the marbled images onto their skin. Similar to paper marbling, body marbling utilizes the traditional concepts of the marbled style, including the visual effects of dragging and stirring the paint on the surface. Body marbling, however, typically substitutes neon or UV reactive colors, and utilizes nontoxic, water-based paint in place of the traditional neutral-colored oil based inks and paints. The term “body marbling” was pioneered by Brad Lawrence of Black Light Visuals for the first time in August 2011, and was in full use at events by November 2011. Due to the recent popularity of body marbling in the festival scene, the term has been appearing more frequently in popular internet searches since late 2015.
This salt water simultaneously texturizes and adds an absorbent coating on the skin to allow the paint to adhere. Lotions and other moisturizers are recommended to be removed, as they prevent the salt from absorbing the paint properly. Drying the salt water takes about as much time as it takes water to air dry. Often, fans are installed at the painting site to allow for more practical drying times.
Once the salt water has dried, the second step is creating the abstract image of choice. The solution used to thicken the water will differ with each body marbling company or group, as many agents can be used. M. Pantrey of the site Superpants reported effectively using guar gum. Most body marbling tanks can be cleared with paper towel after each painting, so the colors can be changed for each individual’s preference. Drops of paint are added to the surface until the surface tension is adequate for the dipping.
If the colors are not concentrated enough on the surface, the resulting painting on skin will look faded or translucent. Participants are then instructed to slowly dip their arms straight down in one motion, allowing the paint to smoothly adhere to the skin. Excessive motion will distort the image on the surface, and the remaining color on skin will look fuzzy. It only takes one short dip to transfer the images, and the arms can be immediately removed from the tank.
The third step involves slowly removing the arms from the tank and dunking them directly into a rinse bin. A light shake in the rinse tank removes the excess paint and mixture to reveal a vibrant “temporary-tattoo-style” painting underneath. Once this surface is dried, the paint will retain its coloration and marbled look. Typically, the dry paint will only last on skin for 8–12 hours, depending on the care taken afterward. If the paint becomes saturated with moisture, it may rub off more quickly, however a short drying session will set the paint back to the original. Most body marbling processes allow for the paint to be easily removed with soap and water, or just water and a light exfoliant.
When I first saw the videos, I couldn’t help but notice how much the process looks similar to a technique I posted previously about Water Transfer Printing / Hydrography.
I’d have to admit, this looks pretty cool! Like most people, I think my first concerns would be how easily is it removed and how toxic are the paints being used (which apparently seems to be a non-issue). Of course, I would love to hear if anyone has had this done and your account of the whole experience.