According to the Turkish Cultural Foundation, ebru, also known as "marbling", involves brushing color pigments in a pan of oily water and transferring the pattern to paper. However, when Ay's finished "The Starry Night", he smears it away to begin a portrait of Van Gogh which he then transfers to paper.
Turkistan gets the credit for inventing the technique in the 13th century. It later spread to China, India and other Asian countries. People used ebru to decorate books and official documents during the Ottoman Empire. Today it shows up in fine art and on tile decorations.
On his website, Ay notes, "Ebru holds an important place in the history of Islamic art; it was used alongside calligraphy and in publishing. Moreover, its mystic nature, that is, 'the search for religious beauty,' led to its being used in many tekkes as a reflection of Sufi thought." Sufi is a mystical branch of Islam, and tekkes are places of devotion for Sufis, similar to monasteries.
Ay told ABC News that it took him 20 minutes to create "The Starry Night/Van Gogh portrait" combination. "The water, in addition to being thickened by carrageenan powder, was colored black for this project. It is one of the more complicated projects I have worked on, to be sure," he said.
The artist's project has racked up more than 24 million views on his Facebook page. If you'd like to see more of his work, check out the video below: