The Eternal Herbarium

During my recent trip to Boston, I visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History, where I was blown away by an amazing exhibit of glass flowers by Czech glass sculptors Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.  Initially working on marine invertebrate sculptures after encountering a jellyfish and being inspired to re-create it, Leopold Blaschka, he began working on botanical sculptures after being contacted by  George Lincoln Goodale, who was in the process of setting up the Harvard Botanical Museum.

From orchids and pitcher plants to grasses and willows, the Blaschkas’ work is phenomenal in its breadth and detail – some of the sculptures even show galls and the parasites that cause them, transverse sections of stamens and plant cells.  Incredibly, this work was all done with the most rudimentary of tools – melting, twisting and crinkling glass over a flame.  There is an incredible youtube video showing the Blaschkas at work.

You don’t have to go all the way to Massachusetts to see their work – you can see some of the Blaschka marine glassworks at the Natural History Museum in London (admission is free).

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