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This Is Not a Jellyfish

It's a glass sculpture, part of a collection of amazingly lifelike glass sea creatures created by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka in the 1880's. In that era, according to the Design Museum:

Aquaria and natural history museums were then opening all over the world. As the techniques for preserving real plants or creatures were so rudimentary, they needed life-like replicas to exhibit and turned to Leopold Blaschka to provide them. During the 1860s, Leopold supplied glass sea-anenomes to museums, aquaria and private collectors all over Europe. He then added snails and jellyfish to his repertoire and in 1876 received a large order from London’s South Kensington Museum (now the Natural History Museum).

By then, Rudolf had joined his father in the workshop, where they worked alone without assistants. Some of their replicas were based on illustrations in natural history books, such as Philip Gosse’s 1853 A Naturalist’s Rambles on the Devonshire Coast and G. B. Sowerby’s 1857 A Popular History of the Aquarium of Marine and Fresh-Water Animals and Plants. All the early sea-anenomes, for instance, were modelled on such illustrations.

Other replicas were inspired either by the Blaschkas’ own memories of seeing the real creatures - like the first jellyfish which Leopold remembered from a trip to North America - or by copying preserved specimens. In later years, as the Blaschkas became wealthier, they acquired live specimens to work from. These were kept in a specially built aquarium at their Dresden home.

I've seen other pictures of their work...they're so amazingly lifelike, you expect them to drift right out of the museum. I'd be thrilled to learn how they did such wondrous techniques, but IIRC they never shared their secret, and the gift died with them. But I might be thinking of someone else...

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I too have seen photos of the great naturalist glassblowers of the past, and many of the methods they spent a lifetime developing died with them. The Welsh master glassblower who trained me in the seventies was well aware of this, and of the European tradition of 'secret' methods, never shared except with your own apprentice.

He told me then that the art was dying out, and to share freely what I knew and learned. I've tried to do this, and have always been happy to do so. I have just started my second class for art glass making (artistic glass beads) and I am delighted with the enthusiasm and skill of my students.

I'm working towards a local 'art glass' community, and I believe it is going to happen.
- Dougall
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I remember Chihuly's exhibit - it passed through St. Louis this summer - and it was cool, but this looks incredible! I love it when art and nature mingle, for the benefit of both.
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Anyhoo, I was just mentioning that I wish Dougall was my neighbor, I'd serve him a lifetime supply of pie to learn the craft...I also expressed my enthusiasm for Chihuly's work even though he's only directing his apprentices now (with only one eye, no depth perception makes glassblowing a hazardous undertaking)...and I was also wondering if anyone here is familiar with Paul Stankard's work?

If you like stuff along these lines, you'll love Paul's glassworks as well! :-)

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