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Thierry Ollivier / Musée Guimet

Recreating a 1900-Year-Old Glass Fish

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Thierry Ollivier / Musée Guimet

In Begram, Afghanistan, a storeroom was found containing 180 ancient glass vessels. Archeologists date the collection to around 100 AD, due to similarities with Roman glass work of that time. But some of the pieces in the Begram collection are very odd, most notably a series of glass animals clearly produced by glassblowing (in which an artisan blows air through a tube into a blob of glass, inflating it), which was a brand new technique at the time. From the British Museum Blog:

However, some of the vessels found at Begram remain something of a mystery and these include as many as twenty-two which are in the shape of fish and other creatures. Three of these are shown in the exhibition. They were made by inflating the glass while it was hot and adding trails of glass to the body, and sometimes in a different colour, to create very distinctive fins. The composition of the glass resembles that of Roman glass made in Egypt yet there are no known parallels, either complete or fragmentary, for these vessels from the Roman world. ...

... the implication of the fish-shaped vessels from Begram is that some was fashioned into glass vessels by someone who had picked up the basics of glass-blowing and set up shop in a world where this was a complete novelty. It is not difficult to see how even the cheapest and most mass-produced types of Roman glassware were given exorbitant prices in places like India or Afghanistan in the first century but imagine the response when someone says they can make a vessel that looks like a fish, is unknown even in Rome and, to cap it all, rests perfectly on a table as its fins act as supports.

In other words, we can imagine that an enterprising glassblower picked up the basics of the technique in the Roman world, hit the road, and made some awesome fish in Afghanistan. 1,900 years later in 2011, the British Museum put them on display.

Glassblowing is a special form of art, requiring lots of practice, speed, confidence, and a really hot furnace (not to mention plenty of spare glass in various colors and a variety of hand tools). I have only personally seen glassblowers at work at Blenko, the famous West Virginia glass company (indeed, as I write this I'm drinking water from a blue Blenko pinch glass). Watching the video below, I recognize all of these techniques. It's just wild to think that some of the earliest blown-glass pieces ever created have managed to survive nearly two millennia.

In this video, Bill Gudenrath of the Corning Museum of Glass makes a rough replica of the Begram fish using modern glassblowing techniques, to demonstrate how a modern glassblower would make this kind of piece. While it's not all that difficult for a skilled glassblower today, imagine pulling this off 1,900 years ago -- and what you could charge for this kind of work.

Read a bit more from the British Museum Blog for the full story.

(Via The Kid Should See This.)

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Design
This Amazing Clock Has a Different Hand for Every Minute of the Day
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iStock

In the video below, you can watch Japanese ad agency Dentsu transform passing time into art. According to Adweek, the project was commissioned by Japanese stationery brand Hitotoki, which produces crafting materials. To celebrate the value of handmade items in an increasingly fast-paced world, Dentsu created a film advertisement for their client depicting their goods as a stop-motion clock.

The timepiece ticks off all 1440 minutes in the day, and was assembled in real-time against a colored backdrop during a single 24-hour take. Its "hands" were crafted from different combinations of some 30,000 disparate small items, including confetti, cream puffs, tiny toys, silk leaves, and sunglasses.

"In a world where everything is so hectic and efficient, we wanted to bring the value of 'handmade' to life," explains Dentsu art director Ryosuke Miyashita in a press statement quoted by Stash Media. "We created different combinations of small Hitotoki brand items to express each and every minute."

You can check out a promotional video for the project below, which details the arduous crafting process, or view a real-time version of the clock here.

[h/t Adweek]

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architecture
Take a Look at These Tiny, Futuristic Homes From the 1960s
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If you find yourself in Friche de l’Escalette, a sculpture park in Marseille, France, this year, you may feel like there’s been some kind of alien invasion among the industrial ruins scattered throughout the park. The institution’s latest exhibition, Utopie Plastic, features three retro-futuristic houses from the 1960s that look straight out of The Jetsons.

As Curbed reports, the prefabricated houses are stocked with mid-century plastic furniture like Quasar Khahn’s inflatable chair.

The rounded interior of a Futuro home with two experimental retro chairs inside.

The show includes one of the Futuro homes, spaceship-like tiny houses originally designed as ski chalets by architect Matti Suuronen. At the time, they cost only $12,000 to $14,000, and could be built on any terrain because of their stilt legs.

A Maison Bulle à Six Coques home lights up with a blue glow at night in the sculpture park.

You can also view Maison Bulle à Six Coques, a flower-shaped hut (its name means Six-Shell Bubble House) by French architect Jean Maneval. The prototype design was first introduced at an art fair in 1956, and went into production in 1968. It came in green, white, or brown, and later inspired an entire vacation village in the Pyrenees, where developers built 20 Bubble Houses.

A modular Hexacube house is lit up at twilight.

And then there’s Georges Candilis and Anja Blamsfeld's 1972 Hexacube design, a modular polyester and fiberglass hut that looked kind of like a giant Port-a-Potty. Multiple Hexacubes could be combined together to make a larger house, and they ushered in a new era of modular, expandable construction.

The era of plastic tiny houses like these came to an end during the 1970s, when the oil crisis in the U.S. made plastic prohibitively expensive—at least for people who were looking for prefab houses on the cheap.

The exhibit is open by appointment until October 1, 2017.

[h/t Curbed]

All images © C. Baraja, courtesy Friche de l’Escalette

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