I've searched Google, I've studied the tutorial on Project Guitar, I've searched the Project Guitar forums, and I've searched UG.

Im testing out swirls (swirling the guitar) so I can go do my Squire that way but Im having some trouble. The tutorial for swirling at Project Guitar (http://www.projectguitar.com/tut/swirled.htm) leaves alot to the imagination.

In the tut, he uses 1 cup of Borax for a 50 gallon container. When i was testing, I used an 8 gallon container, roughly converting to 1/6th of a cup of Borax IIRC. Should I measure like that? Becuase I've also heard people say just put in Borax until it stops dissolving easily.

Also, water temp; anything special that I need to know? And Does the Borax have to set for 30 mins?

Lastly, this video (here) has provided the most help. This isnt the actual guys photobucket. The actual guy has made many threads on Project Guitar forums.
Anyway. What does he pour in at the very beginning? It looks like a dark paint, but it disperses and mixes with the water. It is not Borax and I am stumped.

Thanks for reading. Any help is aprreciated. Thanks in advance.

FYI, I didnt post this at Project Guitar forums becuase UG is alot better and alot more active.

EDIT: Pictures down below of tests. And another question.
Last edited by jumi1174 at Mar 25, 2008,
it looks likesome differnt type of paint that actually does mix with the water, the only reason i say that is coz it comes out with dark bits on the guitar at the end. but that only my guess and it doesnt really help you to be honest....

oh and thanks for posting the vid i was gonna do this a while ago but put it off coz it looked too complicated, now it looks pretty damn straight forward im gonna go ahead with it. got any good ideas for the colours your gonna use on your guitar? i was planning white base with maybe a warm red and orange pattern? but that green did look pretty awesome

EDIT: try looking here
Last edited by schnips63 at Mar 20, 2008,
^ Yeh bro, its not complicated in theory. The hardest part is getting the tiny, meticulous(sp?) details down that work for your case.
Just be sure to use oil paints, dark colors first and then light, and the testors enamel paints are ok to use (although in UK, yall proboally have different stuff).

For colors, I was actually thinking about doing a white base with a red, orange, green, and yellow pattern. Trying to go for a Hendrix-esque/ pyscadelic deal.

Another pattern Im gonna try is a navy/ faded blue base with a red and white pattern.

Im going to do a (few, possibly) test dip later and I'll post pics and explain what I did, so check up.

Thanks for the reply too.

EDIT: Yeh, I've seen that thread. They almost got all my questions answered but not what was put in the water in the vid.
Last edited by jumi1174 at Mar 20, 2008,
I think your not suppose to use too many colours (at least I think I remember reading that some where lol)

I think he only puts model paints in the water in that vid, but because of the lighting it dissapates over the surface but looks like it disapears all together.

You can see at 2.05 ish when hes adding the green and he leans over the water it shows the surface of the water is black.

I think you just add borax until the paint floats on the surface and doesnt mix with the water any more.

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Last edited by Absent Mind at Mar 20, 2008,
Ok here are some test swirls I did. The tests were conducted on plywood that was primed with the primer Im using for my guitar. The grain is still slightly visible underneath the primer.

Test 1
This was with the only oil paints I had available. I used black (which totally did not work), a camo green (it was for my dads mudboat), a blue model paint, and a metalic silver model paint.

I used an 8 gallon trash can and used 1/6 cup of Borax because the tutorial used 1 cup to 50 gallons, so i did the conversion.
The water was about room temp.
I waited 10 mins after the Borax had been dissolved from stirring.
I dropped the paint directly in (i'll explain later).
Also, i didnt wipe the surface before I pulled out (aka double dip).

Test 2
This test was done earlier today after I had gotten decent paints, not just paints I had lying around. I used red and blue model paint.

It came out slightly better.
I played around with times and quantities of Borax.

I first tried with a 6.5-7gallons and enough Borax until it stoped dissolving easily. Waited 30mins. Dropped the paint in. It sunk through the surface and went to the bottom. Scratch. Dumped that batch.

Second time I used same thing, 6.5-7 gallons of water and I poured in alot, alot of Borax. The water was cloudy with the Borax. Stired it up, still cloudy. Waited 30mins, figured it would clear up; it didnt. Dropped the paint in. Instantly dissolved. Scratch that batch.

3rd times a charm, right? Ever so slightly.
I used exactly 6.5gallons and after conversions, measured exactly 1/8th cup of Borax.
Stirred it in. Waited 30mins.
Poured, keyword poured, the paint in from about a half inch about the surface of the water.
The paint (blue) stayed on top. Success!
Although, it got kind of cloudy at first but it still stayed. Added the second color (red) and it stayed on top.
Mixed the colors and dipped. Wisked away the paint on the water and pulled out. Ended up with Test 2 above.

I also experiment how the paint reacted to water tempurature and nothing major was worth noting. If your going to wait 30mins, the temp wont really matter.

Now some deductions:
Temp of Water:
Test 1 - Room temp
Test 2 - Room temp
-Nothing worth noting

Amount of Borax:
Test 1 - Equivilence of 1cup:50gallons ratio (In this case 1/6th cup to 8 gallons)
Test 2 - Equivilence of 1cup:50gallons ratio (In this case 1/8th cup to 6.5gallons)
-Nothing worth noting, just basically follow the equivilent ratios. The 1cup:50gallon ratio seems right. Or 1cup:800cups (1gal. = 16cups)

Time Waited:
Test 1 - 10 mins
Test 2 - 30 mins
- Waiting the "correct" amount of time seemed to work a little better.

Height from which paint was dropped:
Test 1 - 6 - 12in.
Test 2 - Half inch above water
- The height of where you drop the paint seems to affect the way the paint reacts to the surface. When I dropped the paint in Test 1, it got really cloudy and sunk down below the surface. In Test 2, it stayed on the surface like it was supposed to.

(Wow, this is my longest post ever, i feel like a scientist)

In conclusion, it still needs a little tinkering and adjustments to get just perfect, but I satisfied with Test 2. The paint cannot be dropped into the water. This seems to be the most deciding factor.

Thanks for the read, I know it was long. Im trying to answer my own questions and help others to.

I still would like to know what the guy in the video put in the container first, so if any one knows please let me know.

Thanks in advance. Any help is appreciated.
Everything in that video is paint, first black model paint, then green model paint.

I like your tests and explanation,

what happened with that blotchy patch on the second test? The paint looks like it ran and mixed together?

BTW pouring it from just above the surface is probably necessary, because if you drop from 6-12" then the paint has picked up speed and is probably penatrating the surface tension of the water. Thats why, I imagine, it worked better when you just poured.

Quote by dogismycopilot
Absent Mind, words cant express how much i love you. Id bone you, oh yea.

Quote by lumberjack
Absent Mind is, as usual, completely correct.

Quote by littlemurph7976
Id like to make my love for Neil public knowledge as he is a beautiful man
Hey I've been out of town the past few days but I'm back now. I should be doing another test today, if not, defiently tomorrow.

^ To answer your question, Absent, the blotchy part is where the paint rain and mixed. I wasnt too concerned about the paint running then since it was just a test.
Did a test today. Came out pretty solid but Im going to have to start doing full scale tests now. Im using an 8 gallon trash can and the paint has a very small surface area to spread so the swirl is not covering the whole "canvas", if you will.


The back of the piece of plywood came out better than the front. i didnt prime both sides, obvisouly, because I always tried to get the best design on the front where it's primed.

Now for the Variables:
Temp. of Water - Normal Temp (Room Temp./Outside Temp.)

Amount of Borax - About the 1cup:50gal. ratio, just a little more

Time Waited - 30mins

Height of Paint - 1 inch or less

The green paint got cloudy and when the paint gets cloudy, it get hard real fast and forms the "skin" that nobody wants. This was the only color that did that, I dont know why it happens because I poured from the right height.

I also found that if you pour in a line very slowly or pour a "pool" very slowly, it stays on the surface better.

Now another question.
Most of the swirls I see have a "parallel" pattern, if you will. The lines are like the light-wave lines if that makes anysense.

Why arent my swirls working like that? Anything Im doing wrong? Maybe the fact that Im doing it on such a small scale?

Ill provide I picture if you cant understand what Im saying.

Thanks in advance.
Last edited by jumi1174 at Mar 25, 2008,
Well what I see in the vid is that he puts the darker colour down, then puts pools of green in 3 places, and then mixes the two together. I think its the slow hand mixing of the two that forms the patterns you talk about. Make sure there are no blotches of paint left un mixed together, but also dont spend too long making pretty patterns because the paint will start drying quickly.

BTW you said that you didnt prime the back because you are concentrating on getting the best best pattern on the front, but remember when you swirl the guitar body you will be doing the back front sides, everything, so you cant concentrate on getting one side perfect.

Quote by dogismycopilot
Absent Mind, words cant express how much i love you. Id bone you, oh yea.

Quote by lumberjack
Absent Mind is, as usual, completely correct.

Quote by littlemurph7976
Id like to make my love for Neil public knowledge as he is a beautiful man
^Yeh, of course I know both the front and back will get the swirl on them. I was just doing the front of the plywood for these tests im doing.

The next test (hopefully) will be a full scale test, in a big container. And hopefully I will make a vid of the process. So stay tuned.
I know, but it was just incase you had a memory lapse, and became a total idiot, you never know :P

Quote by dogismycopilot
Absent Mind, words cant express how much i love you. Id bone you, oh yea.

Quote by lumberjack
Absent Mind is, as usual, completely correct.

Quote by littlemurph7976
Id like to make my love for Neil public knowledge as he is a beautiful man
^Ha, yeh. Im being very careful though so hopefully i dont make too big of a mistkae somewhere down the line.

I might be doing a full scale test today, if not then defiently this weekend I just dont have time with school and track. So again, stay tuned.
any more updates????? how did the test go?

EDIT: check here for more psycadelic swirl patterns

Last edited by schnips63 at Apr 8, 2008,
what brand of paint did you use?
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