Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Making Microscopic Stained Glass, From Algae

D-briefBy Carl EngelkingSeptember 19, 2014 8:42 PM
diatom.jpg

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Screenshot from "The Diatomist" by Matthew Killip During the height of the Victorian era, some of the finest works of art could only be viewed through a microscope. Their materials: The tiniest flotsam and jetsam of nature, and glue. Starting in the 1830s, commercial demand for slides prepared with specimens such as insect scales, spines, and microscopic organisms skyrocketed as professionals and amateurs grew deeply interested in studying the microcosm. Diatoms, in particular, were a favored medium. These single-cell algae protected by glass shells come in thousands of different shapes, sizes, colors and varieties, and you can find them virtually anywhere there’s water.

diatoms2.jpg

Screenshot from "The Diatomist" by Matthew Killip

The art of arranging diatoms into intricate, colorful patterns soon emerged as a spinoff of man’s fascination with the microscopic realm. Today, Englishman Klaus Kemp is the only remaining practitioner of the lost art form. Kemp collects diatoms, just microns wide, and arranges them under a microscope with a steady hand.

Documentary filmmaker Matthew Killip

followed Kemp around for an afternoon to watch Kemp in action and see how makes his beautiful, microscopic displays in his short film “The Diatomist.” Sit back, and enjoy the wonderful world of algae.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In