Minimal Surfaces With Metal Shapes and Soap Bubbles

Picture of Minimal Surfaces With Metal Shapes and Soap Bubbles
You can make pretty surprising surfaces when you dip closed shapes into a soap solution. There is a lot of math/science behind the surfaces that are formed, but it's easy to enjoy the shapes without any knowledge at all.

Photos don't do the shapes justice, you'll have to see them with your own eyes. Go make a few and experiment.

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Step 1: You will Need...

Picture of You will Need...
You will need the following items:

Nails (or paper clips or coat hanger bits. I picked nails because they were handy)
A small torch or soldering iron.
Soapy Water and string for dipping the shape.

Standard warnings: Fire is HOT, Flux is corrosive, lead-free solder is better than leaded solder. I can guarantee you will burn your fingers picking up a shape before it is cool, because even though I've done this stuff a lot, I still am too impatient.

Step 2: Solder metal bits together into a shape

Picture of Solder metal bits together into a shape
You can pick any closed shape, but polyhedra are all cool. Tetrahedra, cubes, pyramids all work. If you can build the items close to their ideal (e.g. equal angles and matching sides that are supposed to be the same length), your bubble surfaces come out with better aesthetics.

Some helpful hints:

A third hand is really useful here

You can be sloppy with your solder joints, because these are not bearing any force. It just looks better if you make clean joins.

Step 3: Dip your shapes into soapy water and be amazed

Picture of Dip your shapes into soapy water and be amazed
Any good bubble solution works. I used dish soap and water.

You will need to hold these shapes by a wire or a string. Using your fingers will be messy and sometimes it interferes with the soap forming into the nice patterns.

Go Play!
NarasimhamG10 months ago

Nowadays there is 3D printing, From photographic image of the object it can be 3d printed.The object has be lighted properly. Try MakerBot

Valche7 years ago
Maybe there's a way of creating some solution that will cling like a soap solution will, but will harden into something you could take out?
papa-g (author)  Valche7 years ago
I never thought of that. It might work with a molten plastic, but it would require some special properties - good surface tension, quick hardening, adherance to metal surfaces, etc. I'm not sure if there is such a substance. Anyone in the field have an answer?
Kilix papa-g4 years ago
Years ago in the U.S. there was a plastic dip sold in Hoibby/Craft stores but for unknown reasons, was removed from the market. It is still sold in Europe but not salable to the U.S. If you can't, try another company.

My request for info as to purchase or to make received several answers, one of which from PMNobodyInParticular suggested one possible way to make and the following possible sources: Vitriflore, Tauchlack, Formafilm, Whimsy Dip, Fantasy Film, Resiflor, Fun Film, Dippity Glas, Joli Plastics...

So farhave not found an answer. If you get one, let me know; I'll do the same.

austin8 years ago
harbor freight oh yea.