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   xoxoxoBruce  Wednesday Apr 1 01:54 AM

April 1, 2009: Fragile Flora

Bifurcated Rivets linked a Curious Expeditions page, on the Fragile Flora display at Harvard's Museum of Natural History. Yes, the Harvard.

I know it's no Aprils fool's joke because I've been there, seen these.

The Fragile Flora Collection is a display of pretty flowers, various plants, and seed pods.



It's very large collection, quite extensive and impressive



The collection is is from the late 19th century and all GLASS.

Quote:
Leopold Blaschka and his son Rudolf came from a long line of talented glassmakers. As a hobby, Leopold began making glass flowers from illustrations in natural history books. So beautiful, accurate and delicate were these models, a buzz began to generate in his hometown in Germany, and a local aristocrat commissioned 100 glass orchids. Leopoldís son, Rudolf joined him in the painstakingly intricate work. Thus began a prolific career in natural history glassmaking, ending in the largest commission of their lives; an order from Harvard college for over 3000 plant and flower models for their botany students. Leopold didnít live to see the completion of the project, but Rudolf continued on without him, working alone from 1895 - 1936, three years before his own death.
This is long before they could Google the information, and even the photography of the era was limited, so I guess they would have to work with real plants, and flowers that would wither and die as they worked. But somehow they achieved amazing accuracy.

Quote:
The astonishing accuracy of Harvardís glass flowers has surprised many of the museumís visitors, who, on seeing the display, ask to see the glass flowers. They donít believe what they are seeing. And even I, knowing full well that what I was looking at was glass, couldnít find anything recognizably glass-like about them at all. The only hints were some nearly imperceptible tiny cracks in a few of the stems.



glatt  Wednesday Apr 1 08:31 AM

wow. That's cool.

I wonder about skills that are being lost by mankind. Clearly, nobody on the planet today is talented enough to make anything even approaching these.



sweetwater  Wednesday Apr 1 08:52 AM

Beautiful.
I'm typing as softly as possible, but still nervous that the clicks will shatter something in the photos.



charmzny  Wednesday Apr 1 03:37 PM

Wow! I'll have to slide over to Harvard and take a look at this some day.



Cloud  Wednesday Apr 1 07:35 PM

very cool! I sent this to a botanist friend of mine.



spudcon  Wednesday Apr 1 11:06 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
wow. That's cool.

I wonder about skills that are being lost by mankind. Clearly, nobody on the planet today is talented enough to make anything even approaching these.
Corning Glass Museum Corning NY


Elspode  Thursday Apr 2 06:41 PM

Aw, heck. They've got stuff just like this at the Dollar Store. Well, maybe not *just* like this.

Insanely beautiful. Have I ever told you guys how much talented, dedicated people piss me off? :p



xoxoxoBruce  Friday Apr 3 01:16 AM

You know what's even worse, Elspode? The Blaschkas probably had tons of groupies.



Tiki  Friday Apr 3 12:39 PM

The Blaschkas were absolutely some of the most talented glassworkers ever, and it's true that many, many skills and formulas in glass have been lost over time (most notably during WWII, when many glass factories were shut down or repurposed) but two things worth noting are that the Blaschka's work is not glass alone, particularly the elder Blatchka, but also incorporates paint and wire in order to create the most realistic replicas possible. The painting was done almost exclusively by the younger Blatchka, who, after his father's death, incorporated more and more colored glass into his work, which did not require painting.

The second thing worth noting is that there are still glassworkers specializing in botanical, insect, and crustacean replicas, and many of them are very skilled.

http://www.paulstankard.com/works.htm
http://www.lindemannglass.com/gallery/galleryfrset.htm
http://www.wesleyfleming.com/gallery/index.htm

Michael Lindemann's dragonflies, which I don't have a link to, are spectacular.

There are also more general sculptural glass masters like Lucio: http://www.luciobubacco.com/public/index.asp

What is really missing from today's glass artistry are the sponsorships, grants, large commissions, and patronages that would allow a glassworker to spend the time it would require to create such an impressive library of replicas. Even Lucio must worry about making money and paying his bills, and that means production work, and teaching classes.



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