Brightly colored ferromagnetic shavings
March 24, 2013 2:46 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to find or create ferromagnetic shavings like these, but in bright colors. How can I do that?

I have no idea how to go about this. I don't know a way of painting the shavings without fusing them together, but I would love the color control. I've looked at ferro- and paramagnetic substances that are naturally brightly colored, but haven't found a solution there either. This is for an art project and would remain exposed, so any material would need to be safe for handling/noncarcnogenic/etc.

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.
posted by snorkels to Science & Nature (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The bar magnets are ferromagnetic, the shavings are simply ordinary pieces of iron or steel.

It seems to me that you could take iron shavings, heat them up nice and hot so that they loose any inherent magnetism, spread them out on some paper far enough so they aren't touching and spray away.
posted by three blind mice at 2:55 PM on March 24, 2013

Pigments can be had that are made from iron oxide - I believe they are purchasable as a powder. I'm not sure if they would work in a similar way.

You could spray glaze, sealant or apply resin to seal the work.
posted by Calzephyr at 3:37 PM on March 24, 2013

A chemical or electro-chemical process would seem appropriate to create a micron-think layer without clumping, but I don't know of one offhand that would get primary colors. (Not that I should).
A quick look on wikipedia turned up Niter Bluing, which is color, though not bright primary colors, and I assume it doesn't get brighter than the underlying metal, which in the case of dark iron filings, doesn't help much.

Gold or copper plating the iron filings seems like a you-can-do-it-at-home method to get them brighter and more colorful, but it would be low-volume and tedious especially if you used gold (because gold is expensive enough that you'd probably want to do it by hand with an electrolyzed solution-soaked felt-tip pen instead of just dunk everything in solution, because that would also plate the metal that the filings are resting on in addition to the filings, so costs go up.)
Coarser filings would be more practical whatever approach you take - surface area squares while volume cubes.
posted by anonymisc at 6:33 PM on March 24, 2013

here you go
posted by hortense at 12:49 AM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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