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People in Japan Are Polishing Ordinary Aluminum Foil Balls Into Shiny Orbs

A current Japanese trend is polishing tin foil balls into perfection…

Aluminum foil is one of those things that rarely gets a second thought. It’s useful for cooking and insulation, but as we’ve seen recently, that’s just a couple of things that you can do with the extremely thin metal sheet. A Japanese trend has people wadding up a roll of aluminum foil into a ball and transforming it into a shiny metal orb that looks like it’s anything but an everyday kitchen material.

So, how do they do it? Although it looks like magic, this peculiar DIY is something that anyone can recreate with a lot of aluminum foil, a couple of tools, and a whole lot of time. In a video by a YouTuber named SKYtomo, the craftsman shares his process for producing the orb. Starting with an entire box of foil, he rolls and forms it roughly into a spherical shape. Then, using a ball-peen hammer (or something similar), he meticulously flattens and compresses the orb until it’s a fraction of its original size. At this point, it’s the right shape, but it still doesn’t have the lustrous sheen. To do this, the surface of the ball is sanded—at one point, under running water (similar to the Japanese mud ball making process of dorodango)—using a fine sandpaper. The reflective exterior is finally achieved with a polishing cream and chamois cloth.

Watch this man transform an ordinary aluminum foil ball into a shiny orb.

The video by SKYtomo is oddly satisfying to watch and presents a challenge for patient DIYers—can you turn this ordinary material into something special? Many people in Japan have tried and hours (upon hours) later, succeeded. And with this viral Reddit post, we have a feeling that people all over the world will soon be sharing their own aluminum foil orbs.

A jewelry artist named Atelier puchuco helped start the trend after they shared their polished sphere on Twitter.

The peculiar project has caught on in Japan. People are eager to take this…

… compress it…

… and end up with this!

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Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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