Cornell University is home to one of the largest collections of glass invertebrates made by the father-son team Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka. Cornell’s collection has approximately 570 pieces, each of them representing an actual invertebrate species. These delicate models were originally educational, when such soft bodied animals lost their shape and color when preserved in alcohol. However, today they represent a time capsule for the seas of our past, a metaphor for the simultaneous artistry and fragility of marine life.

These pieces have become the subject of several undertakings. One of these, the film project Fragile Legacy, chronicles Drew’s and filmaker David Brown’s quest to find the living representatives of the Blaschka models. Drew has also authored a book, A Sea of Glass, which uses her own experiences and the Blaschka models to present the marine invertebrate tree of life and the issues facing its members. The Corning Museum of Glass has just put on display an exhibit of some of Cornell’s restored pieces.

Recently, Drew, David, and Reyn searched for, filmed, and photographed Blaschka matches around Friday Harbor Laboratories in the San Juan Islands, Washington. Some of their finds are featured at Reyn’s site. These efforts are to produce new media for the project, extending the reach of Cornell’s Blaschka collection.

 

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