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Glassblowing

Talk Back
Winter 2016

Talk back for Winter 2016

 

Spirit of ’25

The reference in William Stimson’s article (Fall 2016) on the 1925 rally for the Cougar football team to students as forerunners of “The Greatest Generation” struck a chord. As a history department T.A., I researched the 1938 student strike for Dr. George Frykman. Issues may seem trivial to postmodern eyes (Dean Fertig’s proscription of blankets on picnics is one example), but students’ experience in campus mobilization was not. What started as pique over parietal rules became an experience in leadership. Indeed, some student organizers became war heroes within the decade. I remember that Lt. Col. Jerry Sage responded to my … » More …

Fall 2016

From Dresden to Pullman, WSU’s Harvard glass flowers connection

It started with a sea voyage and a jellyfish.

Master glassblower Leopold Blaschka was already a successful maker of glass eyes when he fell ill in 1853. His doctor prescribed time at sea and Blaschka spent the journey from Bohemia to the U.S. and back drawing and studying sea creatures. Back home, Blaschka began making and selling cunningly accurate models of invertebrates, in part because he had already invented glass spinning, a technique that enabled him to create very detailed—and anatomically accurate—glass pieces.

Before the invention of photography, hand-drawn and blown glass models of organisms were highly sought after. Blaschka’s sea creatures were based not … » More …

Fall 2016

The glassblowers

Glass is a snob, and that’s a good thing for science. For the most part, glass doesn’t interact with other substances. Essentially inert, glass is perfect for containing the otherwise uncontainable: strong acids, bases, and solvents.

Glass is, of course, also fragile. That’s why Norbert Kruse, a chemical engineer at WSU, had to take a glassblowing class when he was a chemistry student in Berlin in the early 1970s.

“We had to do our own repairs!” Kruse recalls. These days, researchers at WSU don’t have to know glassblowing to keep their labs running. Scientific glassblower Aaron Babino takes care of that.

WSU contracts with Babino, … » More …