Presentation on theme: "Glass Flowers The conservation and restoration of the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants."— Presentation transcript:
Glass Flowers The conservation and restoration of the Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants
Leopold Blaschka and Rudolf Blaschka Living in the late 19th century, Leopold and his son Rudolf Blaschka were commissioned by Professor George Lincoln Goodale of Harvard University to make a collection of anatomically correct glass plants for the purpose of teaching botany. The Blaschka duo made over 3000 pieces for Harvard made of an amalgamation of glass, paint, organic materials, glue and metal 1822-18951857-1939
The perfect anatomical accuracy and realistic appearance of these glass flowers have never been matched in the hundred years that have passed since they were made, making them even more valuable and irreplaceable.
In 2000 the glass flowers exhibit was taken off display to be restored and to have the gallery redone to fit the latest conservation standards. About time, seeing as the entire collection had been on constant display since 1936. Problems with the flowers were numerous, one of the biggest ones being the reverberations from the large wooden staircase leading up to the exhibit, as Emer McCourt, head of marketing and public relations for HMNH said "We have 200 school-kids running up and down the stairs every day. Leaves or other parts are snapping off.
Conserving the flowers was a particularly daunting task because the flowers themselves are not 100% glass, so they must be kept in an environment suitable for every piece of the whole. They also must be kept in a place where there is a happy medium between the needed safety of the object but also be kept in a place where they are totally accessible to be viewed. The objects provenance dictates that to keep the collection true to itself it must be on display and readily viewed by both the public and by the student, researching the anatomy of the various plants shown
These century old glass flowers have developed many problems that had to be tackled by the conservators. the metal wires were rusting away and even the glass itself was having problems. Susan Rossi-Wilcox, the curator in charge of restoration is quoted as saying "See the white powdery stuff on the leaves? This is glass corrosion. The majority of these models are affected. That's the great irony. The models showing plant diseases are also showing glass diseases.
"It took a long time for the faculty here to go from thinking about the Glass Flowers as a teaching collection to thinking about them as art objects."
How to clean them?! Since there are so fragile no had even dusted them, so to get rid of the offending dust they dunk the flowers into oxygen gas that will combine with the organic matter in the dust to produce carbon dioxide and steam, which eliminates the unwanted partials without physical contact. Over the years, ions in the glass reacted with the water molecules in the air, creating a alkaline film over the flowers, to get rid of it they blast it with dry ice, like they do to clean computer chips. They have also tried burning off the tougher bits with lasers. Finally, once the flowers are squeaky clean, how to mend the breaks? Fusing them back together with more glass is out of the question, as putting that amount heat into the flowers would just make them shatter. The option of using plastic to glue them is there, but as Carlo Pantano, a professor of materials science and engineering at Pennsylvania State University who was working on the project said, "But we're purists, and the idea of fixing glass flowers with plastic just isn't appealing. the final decision was to use this new material called solgel, a liquid glass made of an alcohol-based silica compound that dries and contracts as the alcohol in it evaporates, leaving a solid adhesive whose molecular structure is almost identical to glass.