Quick Tip: Installing with Magnets

Hanging solutions are an important consideration before, during, and after the making of a piece. With work that is very thin or small, I adhere strong, neodymium rare-earth magnets to the ceramic, which then can cling to steel nails or screws in the wall. This allows the work to float slightly off the wall, while keeping the hanging mechanism out of view.

K&J Magnetics and Apex Magnets are both good sources for neodymium magnets and information about durability, handling, and pull strength, which indicates how much force is needed to pull a magnet from a metallic surface. I use PC-7 (black) and PC-11 (white) epoxies to adhere the magnets to the work. It is important to lightly sand or scuff up the magnets’ surfaces to allow for better adhesion.

1 Neodymium magnets of various size and strength.

2 Use larger magnets to float works away from the wall.

The weight limits for this method of presenting work will vary depending on the size, strength, and number of magnets you use. I’ve found that three small magnets will hold a smaller form weighing up to 2 ounces while two larger magnets will hold a 12-ounce tile. Using more magnets or magnets with a higher pull strength will increase these limits. The amount of weight a magnet can hold varies depending on magnet placement and the physics of the work itself. Adhering a magnet to the head of each nail using epoxy will increase magnetic forces and thus the weight a magnet will hold. Since this must be done in advance as the epoxy takes 24 hours to fully cure, pre-drill each hole in the wall and slide the epoxied magnet and nail in place when ready. With a bit of research and experimentation, this process can streamline hanging small objects on the wall.

3 Shalya Marsh’s Void Study, 13 in. (33 cm) in width, handbuilt with laser-cut molds, porcelain, black porcelain, underglaze, fired to cone 6 in oxidation, 2019.

4 Three magnets are adhered to the back of the form ensuring proper placement. The magnets will attach to small steel nails with magnets epoxied to their heads.

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