Earth Magnets

Written by Stacy Chbosky
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If you've never experienced rare earth magnets for yourself, you're bound to be amazed by how strong they are. Rare earth magnets are much, much stronger than the kind you use to display photos on your refrigerator, for instance. You'll want to keep them at least 12 inches away from your credit cards and your computer. If you have a pacemaker, talk to your doctor before playing with these magnets.

Neodymium Rare Earth Magnets

The most popular type of rare earth magnets are probably NIB magnets, or Neodymium Iron Boron magnets. NIB magnets are often nickel plated, for beauty and durability. NIB magnets with a grade of N40 or higher can act on each other from a distance of over 12 inches! Whenever I sculpt with magnets, I use NIBs. They are both lighter and less expensive than Samarium Cobalt magnets, which are the other type of popular rare earths.

NIBs are popular with science teachers, because they can shape the magnets--or have their students shape the magnets--to represent different molecules. This makes them an excellent teaching tool. People who love arts and crafts usually keep magnets around to make representational sculptures of dogs, cats, people, and the like.

I started out by making representational sculptures, then moved on to making abstract designs and geometric patterns. There is something about experimenting with the magnets that is really soothing. Changing their shapes is very meditative. I find that it relaxes me when I feel stressed. Plus, it's always a great solution as a gift when I am pressed for ideas!

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