Crystallization Research of Potassium Alum Anhydrous

Peiling Jiang

This is the course work of Material Basics, and the prompt was to research a material in your own way. I researched the material of Potassium Alum and explored its physical and artistic implementations by 4 steps focusing on the Preparation, the Various Bases, the Crystallization Pattern and the Artistic Interaction with Light.

To thoroughly understand a material, I dissect the substance of Potassium Alum into 4 dimensions, research how to make it, its base, the crystallization process and interaction method. I observe it as a dynamic material, with moving characteristics, unstable presence, and dynamic interaction with light.


Crytallization on Withered Leaf

I also realized that it’s a kind of material that shines its beauty only with proper companions, so I experimented a great many of them, and as those 4 dimensions increase, more dynamic and interactive perspectives are revealed.


Many materials are implied as bases as a test and an artistic experimentation of Crystal’s scalability. The process of implementation is more than exploring possible bases, but also a way to discover reactions between them. Different colors are also implied to find the most repealing or attracting ones.

Take Withered Leaf as an example. The light penetrates green alive ones while reflecting between veins. When we crystallize on the dead withered leaves, otherwise, the light also reflects and refracts through and between the “leaf,” in other words, the Crystal reanimates the leaf in “colleboration” with the base itself.

Crytallization on Fiber
Crytallization on Cloth
Crytallization on Hair


I kept trying to define it as a dynamic material, from the changing crystallization pattern to the dynamic interaction with light. The first tells me how to crystallize most efficiently (strong, thick crystal with higher weight-area ratio) when implementing the material, then the second reveals the material’s beauty of its manipulation with light.

Experiment Explaination

The experiment measure and analyze different result components of crystallized 3D-printed Rod, Net, and Ring structures, representing three typical crystallization scenarios. The calculation reveals the relationship between the reliabilities of crystal under certain circumstances and physical attributes including radius, density, etc. With python surface fitting, I found the unrevealed pattern inside the data array.

Experiment Process
Final Result. The purple areas provide the most reliable crystallization.

At last, an integrated artifact with all understandings from above was created. Light completes Crystal. By “complete,” I mean the characteristics, the beauty, and the experiment. I place a crystalized textile cloth roll (based on data from last dimension) in a box, on the top of which is a cross hole coverd by a thin transparent plastic layer. We can use a flashlight, or any kind of light, to move across the hole, and the light will reflect and refract among the Crystal, creating dynamic patterns inside the box.

Light Box
The Light Box