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Beautiful and Historic Glass Models of Sea Creatures Are on Display in New Exhibit

In the early 1850s, a young Czech craftsman named Leopold Blaschka lost both his wife and father in quick succession. In an attempt to find some relief for his grief, Blaschka set out on a year-long journey to the United States, hoping to indulge some of his passion for natural history. When winds becalmed his ship in the Azores for two weeks, he became fascinated with the bioluminescent jellyfish in the waters, the likes of which he had never seen before. A member of a family of glassmakers going back to 15th century Venice, it wasn’t long before he imagined creating these creatures—and other marine invertebrates that had fascinated him in the waters—out of glass.

By the end of the 19th century, Leopold and his son Rudolf had created a thriving business in Dresden, Germany, manufacturing at least 700 types of models of marine creatures in glass, with touches of enamel, paper, and paint. The models (father and son are said to have produced over 10,000 total) served as teaching aids and often-affordable decorative curios all around the world, ending up as far away as New Zealand and India. They played into the era’s fascination with natural history, and provided a way to see forms of life impossible to preserve in taxidermy, tricky to capture as wet specimens, and generally inaccessible at the time in their natural habitat.

As lifelike as they were, the models were eventually forgotten after photography and video came on the scene, as Allison Meier notes for Hyperallergic. Many languished in storage, including 500 that Cornell University purchased in 1885. After being rescued from storage in the 1960s, the Cornell models were painstakingly restored, a process that took decades. Now, about 70 of them, alongside intricate preparatory drawing and original tools, are on display at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York.

The models in Fragile Legacy: The Marine Invertebrate Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka serve multiple purposes: they are objects of beauty, testament to incredible craftsmanship, and a time capsule of marine diversity now in peril. On the latter note, the exhibit also includes a documentary by filmmaker David Owen Brown (narrated by Ted Danson) that tells the story of the models and ties them to the urgent need for ocean conservation. It’s also an excellent chance to gaze at some of the rippling, translucent, glowing creatures that first enchanted Leopold Blaschka. You can watch a trailer for the film below; the exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass is on view until January 8, 2017.

Fragile Legacy from David O. Brown on Vimeo.

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Nikola Bradonjic
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Design
5 Wacky Ideas to Redesign the Skateboard
Design by Karim Rashid
Design by Karim Rashid
Nikola Bradonjic

Most skateboards come in a few basic shapes. They may be different widths or lengths, have kicktails or flat noses, or different imagery painted on their decks, but for the average rider, they look fairly similar. That’s not the case with the skateboard decks below, created as part of a competition during NYCxDESIGN, an annual New York City design festival.

For a competition called DeckxDesign, the award-winning design firm frog asked a group of notable branding agencies, artists, product designers, and other creative professionals to reimagine the humble skateboard.

This is the second NYCxDesign competition frog has hosted—in 2017, the agency asked designers to reimagine the dart board.

This time, individual designers like Karim Rashid and groups from firms like MakerBot, Motivate (the company behind bike sharing systems like Citi Bike), and frog itself came up with new ways to skate. There were no rules, just the simple prompt: Design a skateboard.

The results included a piece of furniture, a repurposed Citi Bike tube on wheels, a board covered in greenery, one covered in black faux alpaca hair, a skateboard made from recycled trash, and more. Below are some of the most unusual.

A white table that looks like a skateboard
Design by Aruliden
Nikola Bradonjic

A recycled piece of a Citi Bike on wheels
Design by Citi Bike/Motivate
Nikola Bradonjic

A wavy skateboard with purple, spherical wheels
Design by Karim Rashid
Nikola Bradonjic

A skateboard covered in faux alpaca fiber
Design by Staple Design
Nikola Bradonjic

A skateboard covered in mounds of greenery
Design by XY Feng & Jung Soo Park
Nikola Bradonjic

All of the skateboards created for the competition were later auctioned off to benefit the New York City-based nonprofit Art Start.

All images by Nikola Brandonjic

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Art
Google Launches World's Largest Digital Collection of Frida Kahlo Artifacts
YouTube
YouTube

Fans of iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo have a lot of new material to sift through, thanks to Google’s launch of the largest-ever digital exhibition of artworks and artifacts related to the painter. As reported by Forbes, the “Faces of Frida” retrospective and its 800-item collection were the result of a collaboration between the Google Arts & Culture platform and 33 museums around the world.

A screenshot of Google's digital archive of Frida Kahlo artworks
YouTube

Visitors to the website can peruse rare artworks from private collections that had never been digitized until now, including View of New York, a sketch Kahlo made in 1932 while staying at the former Barbizon-Plaza Hotel. There are also personal photographs of Kahlo, as well as letters and journal entries that she penned.

Using Street View, you can even see inside the “Blue House” where she lived in Mexico City. Another feature lets visitors zoom in on high-resolution paintings, which were created using Google’s Art Camera, according to designboom.

For Google executives, the decision to celebrate the life and work of Kahlo was a no-brainer. “Frida's name kept coming up as a top contender when we started to think of what artist would be the best to feature in a retrospective,” Jesús Garcia, Google's head of Hispanic communications, told Forbes. “There's so much of her that was not known and could still be explored from an artistic perspective and life experience.”

An original artwork by multimedia artist Alexa Meade was specially commissioned for “Faces of Frida.” Photographer Cristina Kahlo, Kahlo’s great-niece, aided in the process. Check out the video below to see how she brought Kahlo's artwork to life in a living, breathing painting.

[h/t Forbes]

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