While we’d normally expect hydrophobic coatings to be utilised for a functional purpose, such as helping to protect the paintwork on cars or preventing the build up of ice on aeroplanes, one Seattle based artist saw another opportunity to make use of the water repelling coatings.
Rainworks was devised by Peregrine Church in 2013, who first came up with the idea when viewing an online video about superhydrophobic coatings and decided to try to make use of the unique properties for artistic purposes. Peregrine realised the fact that applying a hydrophobic coating to a concrete surface would mean that the areas covered with a coating would be kept dry in the rain, while the surrounding, non-coated areas would get wet and turn darker, which would enable him to create art that only appeared when wet.
After testing a variety of hydrophobic coatings, with varying degrees of success, mainly relating to the fact that the coatings were still visible when dry, Peregrine was contacted by a Belgian chemical manufacturer with an offer to develop a solution to the problem of making the coating invisible when dry.
Once a coating was produced that was completely invisible other than when wet, Rainworks could officially begin with their first hydrophobic artwork, which simply said STAY DRY OUT THERE. With the coating proving to be a success, Peregrine and best friend, Xack Fischer set out to spread their artwork across the city of Seattle.
After their own artwork gathered increasing levels of exposure, people from around the world started contacting them to find out how they could make similar pieces and, after developing a commercial pack for others to purchase, the movement spread, with global locations now able to be viewed on a map on their website.
You can find out more about Rainworks and the use of hydrophobic coatings in the below video.