Not a Magic 8 Ball

This idea started when I found out I could buy blank dice and put anything I wanted on them. This led to a wonderful journey of tests to make a magic 8-ball that gave sarcastic answers.

Step 1: How do I get the die to float? I tried using wooden cubes, but they favored a side when floating. So how to get a plastic die to float. After many experiments, the answer is sugar. The density of water at room temperature is close to one gram per cubic cm. Sugar can raise that to over 1.5 and hardly change the viscosity. I did tests to see how much sugar to add (one part water to .42 sugar or 1 part sugar to 2.4 parts water), but in the end I kept adding sugar to a jug of water with a die in it. Keep in mind that it takes time for that much sugar to dissolve, so I added it in steps.

Step 2: I opted for using a 20mm six sided die because it had enough surface to put phrases on. Next, I had to find a container large enough for the die to move about, but small enough to fit in any sphere I could obtain. I finally settled on a 3 ounce plastic jar that had a flat clear lid.

Step 3: Create the dice. I wanted a sarcastic 7-ball. With little extra effort, I decided to make a one ball that always answered yes and a two ball that always answered no. Plus, I worked on the one and the two first, so that if anything went wrong, I still had my seven ball (the inspiration for this whole project).

one balltwo ballseven ball
AbsolutelyAbsolutely notAsk again in a few years
Count on itDon’t hold your breathHow the f**k should I know?
DefinitelyNeverSorry, not telling
For Sure!No diceWhy do you care? Why should I?
IndubitablyNo wayWhy the hell should I tell you?
Without DoubtOf course notWhy would you want to know that?

‘Indubitably’ is such a great word, but a pain to fit on a die. I had to adjust font size and the leading to fit the sayings on the dice. Once I etched the dice, I tried coloring the letters, but that failed. I could hope the colored water might fill the words so you could read it. I finally discovered that I could push black Sculpey into the etching and it looked great!

Step 4: Make the balls. I found some five-inch wooden balls online. I had to buy a special Forstner bit to make a hole large enough for my jars. Taping the ball to a roll of tape kept it stable. Next, I primed the balls and spray painted them. Todd had some low tack vinyl for the vinyl cutter and cut some stencils for the circles and the numbers. After cleaning up the edges of the white circles, I sprayed a coat of polycrylic over the balls for extra protection.

I used the bottom of a half gallon milk jug to fill the jars. I submerged the die and jar in food coloring and sugar water. That way I removed all the air from the jars. The die actually move around better with just a tiny bit of air in the jar. I had a happy accident and in the time between filling the jars to finishing the balls, just enough air had leaked in, so I didn’t have to fudge it. When I glued the jars into the balls, I made sure there was glue around the seal of the jars.

My three shiny magic balls:

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