Harvard's Glass Flowers: Background information when reading Glassworks

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by Olivia Wolfgang-Smith

Glassworks by  Olivia Wolfgang-Smith X
Glassworks by  Olivia Wolfgang-Smith
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  • Published:
    May 2023, 368 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Harvard's Glass Flowers

This article relates to Glassworks

Apple Blossom detail in Glass Flowers exhibitOlivia Wolfgang-Smith's novel Glassworks begins with the heroine employing a Czech glass artist to create a collection of realistic flora and fauna for her university in Boston. In interviews, the author has stated that she was inspired by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka, a father-and-son team who created thousands of remarkably detailed biological models in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Leopold Blaschka (1822-1895) was born into a glassworking family that traced its roots in the craft back to 15th century Vienna. Although as a child he dreamed of being a painter, he was apprenticed to a jewelry maker and gem cutter, eventually joining his father in the family glass business. He cut his teeth in the trade creating costume jewelry and glass eyes for those needing a prosthetic as well as taxidermists. Over time, Leopold became incredibly skilled at lampwork, a technique whereby glass rods are heated (originally over an oil lamp, but by Leopold's day alcohol was used as fuel) and...

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