Magnetic Tide- Kinetic Sculpture using magnetic suspension

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Project by Strombergm posted 11-26-2013 02:48 PM 2156 views 13 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is one of my older magnetically suspended ship sculptures and it never fit very well in any of the frames I designed for it. Fortunately, when I moved into my new workshop, I decided to abandon the frame, and attached the sail to the ceiling and the hull to the floor (there is a two inch magnetic gap between the two components). It has been happily floating in its new home ever since.

I refer to air between the hull and sail as the magnetic gap. I achieve the magnetic gap by bringing the pieces close enough together so that they are forcefully attracted to each other. Once I have got the pieces in place, and determined that the magnetic bond is strong enough to suspend the proper amount of weight, I crimp the restraining wires.
At that point, my work is done and the sculpture will float, dance, spin, shimmy and vibrate forever….

The real magic of this sculpture is that it “floats” in mid air. You can walk up to it, blow on it, nudge it, etc, and it just keeps doing its thing. It will also spin and reorient itself when ever a breeze hits it, loud music plays, or an earthquake strike… It is fascinating to watch for long periods of time.

This sculpture is the largest ship sculpture I have ever made out of solid wood. The hull is 18” long and shaped from teak- a traditional (and very expensive) nautical wood. It has six portals that let light pass through it making for some great light effects.

The sail is carved from a solid, glued up block of cherry, mahogany, and walnut. It was a very ambitious sail for me at the time.. the sail is 14’’ high (I studied on of Jim Arnold’s (LJ) chess sets when I was designing the sail).

I finished this ship with a combination of Teak Oil and Polyurethane. It has a mellow finish that really compliments the woods used.

I have attached a link to a video so you can see the piece in action.
Here it is:

-- Mike

13 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

12352 posts in 1853 days

#1 posted 11-26-2013 03:40 PM

Really cool, Mike. You know you’re going to make me try this!!

How big of magnets do you use?
I take it there is a magnet in each piece pulling on this one?

Cheers, Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View CGMillay's profile


62 posts in 914 days

#2 posted 11-26-2013 04:12 PM

Very cool! Like Jim asked, how big and how many magnets do you use? Rare Earth magnets? It’s a great idea. Possibilities are limitless. Nice work.

-- -Chris, Pennsylvania,

View deon's profile


2240 posts in 1774 days

#3 posted 11-26-2013 05:30 PM

Looks fantastic

-- Dreaming patterns

View jap's profile


1240 posts in 802 days

#4 posted 11-26-2013 09:01 PM

Awesome Work.

-- Joel

View facecarver's profile


154 posts in 424 days

#5 posted 11-26-2013 09:15 PM

Way Cool !!Love the natural finish on pretty wood…

-- Dennis Stallings; I am what I am,And that's all what I am...

View majuvla's profile


3923 posts in 1615 days

#6 posted 11-26-2013 09:47 PM

Nice project.

-- Ivan, Croatia, Wooddicted

View HillbillyShooter's profile (online now)


4878 posts in 1040 days

#7 posted 11-26-2013 10:43 PM

Another unique and creative project—thanks for sharing!

-- John C. -- "Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth." George Washington

View leafherder's profile


330 posts in 700 days

#8 posted 11-26-2013 11:35 PM

Beautiful. Magical. Inspiring.

Thanks for sharing and for literally elevating the art of wood working.

-- Leafherder

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


15076 posts in 2424 days

#9 posted 11-27-2013 01:32 AM

My Oh My, I think you hit a home run! Those are some serious magnets to hold a 2” air gap,

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View nayo's profile


139 posts in 641 days

#10 posted 11-27-2013 01:43 AM

What a nice project! where did you get the magnets if i can ask?

View Rick's profile


7312 posts in 1781 days

#11 posted 11-27-2013 05:29 AM

Beautiful Work As Usual Mike!

“nayo” Lee Valley has about the Largest Selection of Rare Earth Magnets, Accessories, & Explanations of what they are Etc, that I’ve seen anywhere.

THIS LINK will take you to the Opening Page on them, then you can go from there.

I just noticed that you live in Honduras. LV Started out as a Mail Order Company Only and their Mail Order is Still TOPS!

UNLESS ... There are some Gov’t Regulations in force that might Prevent Shipping these by Air?


-- How long is a Minute? That depends on which side of the Bathroom Door You're On!

View Philip's profile


1154 posts in 1287 days

#12 posted 11-27-2013 02:48 PM

Love your work. Keep it up!

-- I never finish anyth

View peteg's profile


3005 posts in 1571 days

#13 posted 11-28-2013 06:22 AM

Love the concept & execution

-- Pete G: If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got

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