These crystals were made by soaking pipe-cleaners in hot borax overnight. Borax is an important boron compound and a mineral, also known as sodium tetraborate (Na₂[B₄O₅(OH)₄]·8H₂O). After dissolved in water, the ions rearranged and evaporated water reveals crystals. The idea behind this project was to show that even in craft-making, we apply principles of science—this process took a few trials and observations to achieve the desired outcome. As artists, we need to engage in a form of research when working with our mediums.
Try to grow your own crystals at home!
- Make shapes you like with pipe cleaners.
- Use a thread to tie the pipe cleaner shape to a stick.
- Pour the boiling water into a container. Ex. bowl, beaker, etc.
- Add borax into hot water and stir well until the water reaches its holding capacity (when you see borax powder collect at the bottom, it means it can’t be dissolved further.)
- Place the stick with the pipe cleaner shape on the top of the container so that the pipe cleaner hovers in the water but doesn’t touch the bottom or the side.
- Use something to cover the container to grow clean crystals.
- Leave the pipe cleaners in the container for a few hours. *overnight is a good choice: the longer it stays in the bigger the crystals grow.
- Take it out when you think it’s good and air dry it.
*The crystals might also grow on the inside wall of the container. Don’t worry, just rinse with hot water!