|Crystallized German-English Dictionary|
Interest in crystallization was piqued by a maker studio tour in San Francisco, during which I saw artist Alexis Arnold's crystallized books made using 20 Mule Team Borax. They were enchanting and I wanted to know how it was done, but she was charging $400 for a how-to workshop. Upon googling after arriving home I found that the 20 Mule Team Borax website offers the dead-simple instructions for growing crystals absolutely free, and a box of Borax from the local supermarket costs less than $6.
- Use a glass or porcelain container large enough to immerse whatever object you want to crystallize.
- Boil water, and make a super saturated solution in your container using 1 cup boiled water per 3 tablespoons Borax.
- Immerse object (and in the case of the book, arrange pages using chopsticks) and wait for crystals to grow.
- When you think it's crystallized enough, remove from solution and dry on drying rack. The book shown took less than 24 hours.
|Crystallized book on drying rack|
The end result is a fixed object - crystallized and surprisingly heavy.
After crystallizing a book I began to wonder what other objects I could crystallize. Succumbing to my fondness for creating little shoes out of an infinite range of materials (see All My Little Shoes), I tried crystallizing a hand-stitched paper shoe.
|Crystallized paper shoe|
Then it occurred to me to experiment with collage. Turns out you can create a collage using a glue stick, immerse it in a super saturated Borax solution minutes later, and the crystals seal in the collage. The assemblage/collage below includes a booklet on the alchemy of quinte essence I got in India about forty years ago, a visa snapshot of me from the same era, and tucked into the booklet a scrap of Bharatanatyam dance notation I was studying at the time. Now they're all a frozen memory.
|Close-up of visa photo|
The explorations did not end there. Stay tuned for more experiments in which I start crystallizing everything in sight.