Saltwater has many different uses in our day-to-day lives, whether it be a replacement for mouthwash, or used as stain remover. Thanks to self-taught Japanese artist Mai Hirashima, saltwater is now even an art medium.
Hirashima uses saltwater instead of traditional paint. She carefully applies the saltwater on black paper canvases with small brushes and bamboo skewers. She then applies heat to make the water evaporate, and the salt crystallized in the shape she wants. The process is highly time consuming and laborious, but the final product is nothing short of incredible.
Mai, the talented young artist first thought up this idea when she was brainstorming ways of recycling crystallized or contaminated cooking salt. She believed that just because it was no longer edible, it did not mean that it could not be used. She began to mix the salts with water, and started to experiment with to create art.
She first started out by making salt corrals, however eventually taught herself how to make more detailed and refined saltwater paintings.
Hirashima explains that she was also inspired by cooking salt in baked fish. She loved to watch how the salt would adhere to the fish skin, and how it crystallized into miniature corals. At first she would splatter saltwater on different surfaces and let it dry, and was impressed with the abstract shape that developed over time.
Her artistic process starts out by preparing the saltwater, then painting the outline of her composition with a paint brush. She then allows it to dry or applies heat from a stove. Her designs are then filled with a bamboo skewer to make thicker layer. By putting multiple layers of saltwater, she achieves various shades of white.
The artist does not use any additional coatings or adhesives, making them both very fragile and also very temporary. They are most vulnerable in humidity, which explains why she avoids working during the rainy seasons.
Depending on the complexity of her works, they can take anywhere between 12 hours to an entire month. Most of her clients are her friends, but she would be happy to start selling to the public too. She stresses, however that clients need to know about the ephemeral nature of her pieces.