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Re: Glass Flowers

How awesome to see that!! I've read about it and heard about it, but never seen it. I would love to though.

Jesse Rene' Bell
Claremore, OK
Zone 6

From: "Libby Valentine" <L_Valentine@adelphia.net>
Reply-To: gardenchat@hort.net
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Glass Flowers
Date: Sat, 15 Nov 2003 11:10:20 -0500

Yes, the models are to scale - truly as "life-like" as they could make them.
There's one - I think it was the lobelia, that models the whole clump:
roots, stems, leaves, flowers; and somehow it gave me the impression of
being just a bit wilted, like it had been pulled up and left in the sun for
an hour. I have no idea how they kept the samples from which they worked
(the location from which the samples came is also identified). Surprisingly
well-preserved, there is some occasional damage but not very much - I mean,
the stamens on a pussy willow are but hairs!

The professor wanted models to use instead of actual plant material, because
he could use them all year round, so no seasonal dependencies or waiting for
that bud to open! He commissioned glass because there were only rough paper
mache models available at the time and they didn't have the detail or
accuracy he wanted to teach. Each plant has a lifesize, lifelike model of
at least a portion of the plant including the flowers, and associated
enlarged study pieces, for example a portion of a stamen, or a seed pod, or
a cross-section of whatever part for a particular plant, all labeled with
the magnification. And all glass - its awesome! And yes, it's also the
life's work of 2 artisans.

I was lucky! I am surprised this collection is not better known - maybe the
new display room will help. I had never heard of it, yet it's the only
collection of its kind in the world, and it's right there in Cambridge. Of
course I also didn't know Harvard had a Museum of Natural History, let alone
a botanical museum of which this display is a permanent part...

MD zone 6

----- Original Message -----
From: "Kitty" <kmrsy@comcast.net>
To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2003 10:55 AM
Subject: Re: [CHAT] Glass Flowers

> Libby, you didn't specifically say, but sounds like they were perfectly to
> scale as well as details. I can't imagine what a project like that must
> have cost, even in those days. And glass, yet - just transporting or even
> storing these pieces must have been a challenge. What a delight; you were
> very fortunate to have had this opportunity.
> Kitty
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Libby Valentine" <L_Valentine@adelphia.net>
> To: <gardenchat@hort.net>
> Sent: Saturday, November 15, 2003 9:56 AM
> Subject: [CHAT] Glass Flowers
> > I'm on a short project at Harvard University, and I took a long lunch
> > other day and went over to the Harvard Museum of Natural History, with
> > targets in mind: the special exhibit of photographs by Bradford Washburn
> > (mountaineer and photographer, I guess he would be considered a
> contemporary
> > of Ansel Adams but in the mountains, pictures in the exhibition from
> > 1929-1978), and the glass flower collection. The photographs were
> stunning.
> > I didn't know anything about the glass flower collection until I
> to
> > follow a website link to it, but it is incredible.
> >
> > The flowers were commissioned in 1886 by a professor who wanted to have
> > life-like models from which to teach botany all year round. They were
> made
> > from 1887 through 1936 by a father and son team of glassmakers near
> Dresden,
> > Germany. Not quite all of the models are on display, but I understand
> there
> > are over 4000 models of about 850 species, including plant specimen
> > and then various enlarged flower and plant parts for study as well.
> > amazing. I cannot imagine the skill and patience required to accomplish
> > this - picture a 3 foot section of goldenrod, with all its tiny flowers,
> > including multiple flower-heads, stem, leaves. Some of the models are
> > complete with root systems - basically look just like you pulled the
> > up with most of the roots. Kitty, I thought of you when I was trying to
> > remember some of the specific different plants represented there, since
> the
> > labels had the botanical name (but I'm not sure as of when!) and then 1
> 3
> > common names for each model. I'm afraid I tried to remember too many,
> > because now I can't, with any confidence in correctness, remember any.
> > well.
> >
> > Everything from 7 species of salix to clematis to chickory to venus
> flytrap
> > to a couple small cactus in flower - picture one of those, a 6" high
> section
> > with hundreds of spines and multiple flowers - must have taken weeks to
> > just that one! There were 2 models of foot long maple twigs, showing
> summer
> > and autumn color, probably a dozen leaves on each twig. All glass. And
> > they look so real - I kept reminding myself I wasn't just looking at a
> bunch
> > of cuttings. I found the dahlia interesting because the flower was not
> the
> > complex and impressive bloom available today, it was a single flower
> a
> > small number of wide petals. I am not familiar with all the history
> behind
> > the cultivation of the dahlia, but I believe some of the fancier
> > might well have been developed in the last hundred-plus years, so that
> > particular one, and also the clematis, which was very plain, seemed more
> > model from a historical point in time - the rest of the plants and
> > known to me appeared to look just like they do today. They were
> >
> > I wished some of you could have been there to share it with!
> >
> > Libby
> > Maryland zone 6
> >
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