lascraigusOctober 23, 2009

I was hoping someone would be able to help me here......I make sculptures out of steel wire (rebar tie wire to be exact) that people can put outside in their gardens/porches/lawns/ what-have-you. What I have been wanting to do is experiment with texture for these sculpture by taking the following steps. Get a large flat electromagnet (with some sort of steel top to make it like a table i could work on, stick my unfinished sculpture on top of it thereby magnetizing the sculpture and sticking various metal objects to it that I could then melt with a torch to achieve the desired result. Where would I find such an electromagnet? The sculptures are all fairly small (12" high or less) Can this be done? Thanks!

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I don't think you want to do this...

But an electromagnet could be purchased from Edmunds Scientific. Or, you could make one.

A strong, and powerful electromagnet is going to use some juice; and will not take heat very well.

They make welding magnets, which could just be stuck onto the metal, and hold some stuff together... while you melt and weld. Course - they don't hold up to heat reall well either.

You cuold use some rare earth magnets; such as Neodymium; which can be small and powerfull. But they are 'only' good for 500 degress F.

Plus - if the magnet is powerfull - like being your work surface, and radiating magnetic waves up toward your project - to hold it into posistion - your project will be pulled down by gravity and magnetism - into the magnet. It won't hold the shape you desire...

    Bookmark   October 23, 2009 at 7:07PM
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Thanks! My initial thought was conceived then I saw a show on Discovery Channel about scrapyards and those huge electromagnets they use to hoist cars around with for scrap. I thought "wouldnt that be cool to magnetize my sculptures somehow and then stick iron filings onto them and melt them to make it look well......more interesting!" Then I thought that (as you said) the sculpture would just be pulled down by the force so why not spray adhesive onto the whole mess and THEN proceed in the same way once it dries. I think that would produce some pretty nasty fumes which I for one do not want to inhale....unless I had a fan to blow it away while i worked. Which of course would snuff out my torch flame pronto! IF there were a way to produce a strong enough magnetic field so that it would be able to keep the heat far enough away from the electromagnet while I worked........ah hells bells.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 5:13PM
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LasCraigus -

Your second post - you mention "iron filings". Your first post - you mention Rebar 'tie wire".

You could probably get away with this - if you magnetized the Tie Wire; and Magnetized the Iron Filings.

Have you ever noticed that when your welding - steel scraps are magnetized?? This occurs because of the heat, and the earth's natural magnetic field.

Iron filings are fairly light weight.

So, if you took some steel tie wire, and stroked it with a strong permanent magnet... (you need to move the magnet in the same direction for a distance pass the wire, and then move it UP and AWAY in bringing it back for the next magnetic stroke...) - you could magnetize the steel wire 'permanently.'

If you then take the iron filings; put them into a glass jar; and let them sit for a day or so next to a couple of strong permanent magnets - they too will become magnetized.

You could then weld up one of your wire sculptures like you normally do... then sprinkle on some of the iron filings, and then heat that up for your desired effect.

After you are all done, the sculpture probably won't be very magnetic - because of the heat. My previous post - I was looking more at using magnets; and not thinking about light weight and magnetism.

Please feel free to send me one of your cool sculptures :)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 5:37PM
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Dave, this is a GREAT idea! I have been racking my brain for months now trying to figure this thing out! I think that is the best course of action. Besides, I think it would be too dangerous and not very cost effective to try it the way I had previously thought of before. Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2009 at 7:57PM
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