For the first time in 25 years the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture is producing a book on the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, better known as the Glass Flowers.
On a recent Thursday, a team delicately repaired, cleaned, and photographed select models in a dark, climate-controlled room. A good portion of the 4,000-piece collection, crafted exclusively for Harvard by father-and-son artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka from 1886 to 1936, lined shelves and bakery racks nearby.
The collection’s conservator, Scott Fulton, said he’s constantly asking himself of the Blaschkas: “How did they do this?”
“For a while we were trying to figure out how they made certain leaves seem fuzzy, and we realized they used little chunks of cotton fibers,” said Donald Pfister, curator of the Farlow Library and Herbarium of Cryptogamic Botany and the Asa Gray Professor of Systematic Botany, who is helping with the project.
Fulton prepared the flowers for the photo shoot, work that ranged from dusting them off to repairing damage caused by vibrations and glue joints drying out after 120 years. He held up a bottle of “green slurry,” made of acrylic resin, which he uses when he has to match a color.