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Blaschka Glass Models

A glass flower at the Harvard Museum of Natural History.

It is nearly impossible to preserve a dead specimen in a pristine manner. Large vertebrates can be taxidermied, but invertebrates such as sea anemones and jellyfishes when sealed in a jar of alcohol or formaldehyde, lose their color and shape, eventually becoming little more than colorless blobs of floating jelly. Preserving botanical specimens also poses a challenge.

Flowers were traditionally pressed between two sheets of papers until they dried out. These, along with wax and papier-mâché models, were the only botanical specimens available before the development of modern materials such as plastic and fiberglass allowed the creation of accurate 3D models. But 19th museum curators had access to one wonder material, which, under the dexterous hands of a skilled craftsman, could be shaped into any form a naturalist desires. That material is glass.


© Amusing Planet, 2020.


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