by Pavan Kaushik –
Flowers have fascinated humans since millennia. They have been objects of interest for lovers, philosophers, artists, priests, chemists, biologists and also flying insects. It’s beauty is surely due to its fascinating diversity in patterns, colours, shapes and smells. But, it is also valued more due to its ephemeral presence in limited geographical locations. People from diverse backgrounds have to tried to freeze time and make it last longer by a variety of methods such as drying, pressing, preserving in solvents, freeze drying etc. Yet, barely any come close to matching the original.
However, there is one way to make a good replica (otherwise, this would be a rather boring blog post). I had the fortunate opportunity of visiting the Harvard’s museum of natural history. In this lovely museum with diverse collection of rocks, insects and fossils were flowers. Flowers which look identical to a real one, but frozen in time since decades. They match their 3D shape, colour, patterns, and even the intricate details of pollen, the ruffling of the petals in glorious detail. They even have magnified cross-sections that are fine replicas of ovaries, buds and fruits. If one had to guess of this was a real or replica, everyone would be convinced of it being a real flower. One can’t even guess the materials used to make them. Can you?Have a look at the images and see if you can identify the materials used?
Hold on to your seats. It is made of GLASS. Solid pieces of glass. Every tiny detail, shaped, colored, textured and joint seamlessly to make an accurate and durable replica of the real flower. The Blaschka father-son duo over the span of 50 years, made over 4000 anatomically accurate models of over 800 species of plants, flowers, fruits, fungus and animals. This was for long term preservation and further research of specimens for museums, art exhibits, libraries, research institutes and scientists.This mammoth venture was a long collaboration between artists and scientists to pursue knowledge for multiple generations and preserve rare and beautiful lifeforms for time immemorial.