Photograph of Leopold and Rudolf BlaschkaLeopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf (1857-1939) Blaschka (courtesy of the Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass)

The father and son team of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka were the culmination of a long line of glass artisans from Bohemia, a glassmaking center of Czechoslovakia. Between 1863 and 1936, they supplied museums and universities all over the world with stunningly lifelike models of plants and animals, ending with the well-known series of glass flowers at Harvard.

As a young man, Leopold was strongly drawn to painting but in the interests of practicality, apprenticed to a jewelry maker and gem cutter before joining his father as a glassworker. He became an extraordinarily skilled lampworker, a skill that he taught his son when Rudolf became his father's sole assistant. Lampworking is a method used to fashion intricate and delicate forms from glass rods and tubes heated in a flame until they are soft enough to be manipulated into shapes.

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