How to Make Ferrofluid Sculptures

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Ferrofluid climbs up objects that have exposed details and ridges.
Ferrofluid climbs up objects that have exposed details and ridges. (Image: Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Ferrofluid sculpture, pioneered by Sachiko Kodama, an associate professor at the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo, spirals and climbs around different-sized metal objects with the use of electromagnets and ferrofluid. An inky black, highly magnetic liquid, ferrofluid consists of ferromagnetic particles dissolved into solvent such as water or oil. Your sculpture can vary in its dimensions and appeal with the amount of ferrofluid, the intricacy of the metallic object used and the size of the magnets placed underneath the receptacle. Fascinating patterns depend on the strength and positioning of the magnet and how the ferrofluid attaches itself. Attracted materials may be as simple as nuts and bolts to as complex as three-dimensional, sculpted iron shapes.

Things You'll Need

  • Flat, non-wobbly surface
  • Plastic, disposable petri dishes or small-to-large oval or rectangular plates
  • Latex gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Old clothing
  • Ferrofluid
  • Metallic objects
  • Different-sized electromagnets

Put on latex gloves, old clothes and safety goggles.

Place a round, plastic petri dish in the middle of a secure, non-wobbly table. Position a small, square electromagnet underneath the container. An inappropriate, larger magnet could cause ferrofluid to explode out of the dish and stain clothing, skin and the table. Pour enough ferrofluid into the dish to reach the rim.

Plastic, disposable petri dishes are compatible with ferrofluid.
Plastic, disposable petri dishes are compatible with ferrofluid. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Immerse a bolt with a nut attached into the ferrofluid. Move the electromagnet around underneath the petri dish. The ferromagnetic liquid will be attracted to the metal and will recreate the pattern of the magnet and climb up the bolt and nut, evolving into spiky, intricate details.

Experiment with pushing the magnet closer to the fluid and moving it away to demonstrate how much magnetic strength is needed to enhance your sculpture.

Place an airtight covering over your sculpture and seal your ferrofluid bottle. Your creation and supply will last longer since ferrofluid will evaporate if left out after 48 hours.

References

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