Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Artist of the Week: Henry Dalton

Another gem from the Museum of Jurassic Technology [This is the last one, I swear!], Henry Dalton's (1829-1911) micromosaics were also on view in one of the darkened galleries. Visible only through the peephole of a microscope, his tiny collages are made entirely from dried algae and the scales of butterfly wings. That's right, not even glue is holding these beauties together.  

When I first saw the work I thought they were intricately inlaid stones, which would have been impressive enough. But after discovering they were actually made from butterfly wingsand scales of wings, at thatI was bowled over by his use of the material. THEN I read about his painstakingly precise process on the museum's website, and my brain was totally blown:

"The microscopic creations of Henry Dalton were the fruit of extraordinary skill, remarkable patience and a keen aesthetic eye. After devising a design, Dalton would collect numerous butterfly wings of multiple species from all over the world. Carefully striping off individual scales with a needle, each scale was then sorted by color, size, and shape creating a extensive palette. Boar bristle in hand, Dalton would then transfer each scale to the slide. Positioning a scale was a laborious task, one that required the use of a microscope and a small tube through which he would breathe to gently move each scale over the glass to its appointed position. Once in place, Dalton would crush a small tiny spot of the scale against the slide, allowing internal oils to act as a natural adhesive. Many of Dalton's remarkable micromosaic preparations would require as many as one thousand individual scales."


- Cathleen 

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