Updated: May 23, 2020
I often use ferrofluid in my videos and photography and am always being asked about it so i thought id share some process shots from a recent project where I used ferrofluid as a source for creating etches for metal.
During my research into the connections between science and art I started to consider the unseen aspects of our world and how art can be used to unveil them. This led me to an exploration of iron and its response to the unseen magnetic field lines. I explored iron in its many forms.
Ferrofluid - What is it?
Ferrofluid (pictured below) was invented by NASA to control the movement of fuel in space, it contains nano-particles of iron and you can see below how ferrofluid reacts to a magnetic force. In the image below I am applying a magnetic force from under the table that the petri dish is placed on.
Highlighting the unseen
I add ink to my ferrofluid petri dish experiments to highlight the movement of the nano-particles of iron created by the magnetic forces. Although the formations directly around the magnet are visible without the ink, once added the movements all around the petri dish becomes visible and the most beautiful patterns and movement appear.
Visual Research and experimenting
When it comes to visual research its always really important for me to gain my own hands on experience, I'm curious about materials and love testing and experimenting, its always valuable and always leads to unexpected results, like the one below. I left the petri dish to settle for a few hours to see what would happen and lines and patterns slowly started to appear.
Over time the results started to become more pronounced and focused. The below result is caused by the reaction of the nano-particles in the ferrofluid reacting with the magnetic field lines and the ink makes the effect visible.
I found the result beautiful and wanted to capture the pattern in metal. I used a process of acid etching to recreate my photograph of my petri dish experiment. After etching into the metal, I oxidised and polished back the raised surface to create contrast.
I experimented with differing scales of the print and found it worked well as above but also had a strong effect at larger scales. I am currently working on a series of brooches where the size of the print increases with each brooch in the series, to reflect the magnification increase in my microscope. Below is an example of one of the larger prints.
In a future post I will share the process behind designing a new brooch set design below. The new design also came directly from the ferrofluid photograph print above but reimagined the inspiration in a new freeform, delicate style, combining oxidised silver and 18ct yellow gold.
Thank you so much for dropping by!