In 2008, British artist Roger Hiorns turned a derelict London flat into a major modern artwork. He created the piece, Seizure, by reinforcing and waterproofing a small, condemned apartment and then pumping in 75,000 liters of copper sulfate solution. After a few weeks, Hiorns pumped the liquid back out, and what remained was a glittering gem – the walls, floors and ceilings all covered with bright-blue crystals. Hiorns had previously created other crystal encrusted sculptures, so he knew how to work with copper sulfate. But he admits that the crystals in Seizure grew larger and quicker than expected – which was part of the art, allowing the natural process to happen in a way that was only partially controllable by the artist.
The finished work brings to mind the underground lair of some mythical creature, or perhaps the inside of a geode. Earlier this year, Seizure was moved to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, where a special building was erected to house it. Because of the delicate chemistry of the piece, it cannot get wet or too hot. The new structure will allow many more people to visit the work, a good thing because Hiorns has said he has no interest in repeating himself by creating more crystallized pieces.
Want to make one yourself? Here’s a simple tutorial on how to grow copper sulfate crystals. Be sure to check with your parents, landlord, or spouse before coating entire rooms.