How To Swirl Paint A Guitar Without Borax?

How To Swirl Paint A Guitar Without BoraxOne great question that I asked has to do with swirl painting a guitar without borax. Most techniques describe doing it with borax, as this allows for you to get the desirable swirls on top of the water for your painting. If you can’t get ahold of Borax, the best recommendation I can give on the subject is to try mixing in clear gelatin. You’ll have to experiment with the amounts, but it should give the desired effect.

In today’s article I’ll tell you a little about swirl painting and the kinds of paints generally used in the process, as well as give you some advice on how to swirl paint a guitar. If you like the swirled look, then this should help you to get started doing this on your own.

Let’s discuss some basics about swirl painting and your guitar!

How do you swirl paint a guitar?How do you swirl paint a guitar

Swirl painting a guitar requires that you prepare the guitar itself with sanding sealer and then sand it thoroughly to provide a rougher surface for your paint. At this point, you’ll need to find a tank large enough for the process because what we will be doing is basically dipping the guitar in to get that swirl effect.

The tank needs to be large enough to submerge the guitar and you’ll want the temperature to ideally be as close to 700 as possible. If you aren’t adding a cup of borax to increase the surface tension of the water, then this is when you will need to experiment with your gelatin.

What you are basically doing is getting the ‘swirl’ of colored enamel paints to the surface, and this is actually the hard part, so if you are trying with gelatin then just try making a tank in advance to experiment until you’ve got the amounts before you dip in your guitar.

Once you’ve got paint floating on top, you simply dip in your guitar and swish it around to get some interesting color effects, which you’ll send seal up with clear coat!


What kind of paint is used for swirling?

What kind of paint is used for swirlingTypically, you are going to be using something like oil-based enamels, but any oil-based paints should work. You can experiment with different types and get some interesting effects. Since you don’t need a lot of paint for a guitar, you could even use artist’s tube paint, but you’ll want to experiment with a few different types of paint before you give that a try (unless you just happen to have a lot of spare tubes around for painting on canvas).

So, just pick any oil-based paints that you like – some swirlers like trying automotive spraypaints, while others mix in enamels… When you do experiment, just make sure that you don’t take too long to dip the items that you are wanting to paint or they can develop a little bit of a skin.

For a little 3rd party advice on swirling paints and patterns, check out this link from the Master Painter’s Institute. It’s got some useful tips that will definitely help you to get started ‘swirling’ on your own.

What does borax do to Hydro dipping?What does borax do to Hydro dipping

The reason that the borax (sodium borate) is so important is for the surface tension on the water. This allows your paint to stay together, rather than breaking up, so that you can spin it and swirl to create those amazing effects.

If you are able to use borax for the process, you’ll have a much easier time of it and you’ll want to experiment with the amounts so that you those solid swirls that you are craving. It’s a very neat trick, but it takes a lot of practice, so be sure to play with a little before you start dipping anything like your guitar in there!

Some closing comments on swirl painting

Swirl painting is a lot of fun and can produce some amazing effects on your guitar – provided that you practice with it. That borax is important for proper water tension, but you can experiment with clear gelatin as a workaround if borax is not sold in your location. Once you’ve got the right water tension, any oil-based paints will do, so be sure to have fun with it and experiment.

I hope that you enjoy your new painting addiction, now what are you waiting for?

Get to swirling!