19th century sea creatures made from blown glass

Back in the late 19th century German glassblowers Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka created these incredibly lifelike models of sea creatures, sending them around the world for schools to use as teaching aids.

The photographer Guido Mocafico spent years hunting down the models and taking fantastic photos of them. Wired has a story on it, with a gallery of Mocafio's photos and some quotes from him:

Modern glass blowers have tried to copy the Blaschkas, and they can't," says Italian photographer Guido Mocafico, who spent several years traveling to museums across Europe to shoot hundreds of Blaschka models. "They had no assistants—it was only the father and son working in the studio—so they never taught anyone their technique. When the son died, he took all that knowledge with him." [snip]

Because the sculptures are so fragile, Mocafico had to get special permission from museums to shoot their collections under the supervision of conservators. After experimenting with different ways of lighting the diaphanous models, the photographer settled on using a diffuse array of backlights that made the sculptures glow as if lit from within. 

Go check out that story and see Mocafico's other photos — they're stunning!

(Tip of the hat to Debbie Chachra for pointing out this one on Twitter)