I went to the Cleveland Museum of Art over the weekend — it was really fantastic, I highly recommend it. There were a lot of cool things on display, but one thing really caught my eye and made me think of PZ Myers. There was a special display about a jewelry artist named John Paul Miller (no relation). I had originally just skipped it because I don’t have any particular interest in jewelry, but my mother went to look and it was actually pretty cool. There were lots of Cephalopods!
I’ve always cultivated a special love for tentacled beings since seeing The Little Mermaid, and as a regular Pharyngula reader I was super excited to see little jewelry cephalopods because I figured PZ would also think they were pretty cool.
John Paul Miller basically rediscovered a technology of jewelry making that was invented by the Etruscans and had been lost with the fall of the Roman Empire. He was basically a nerdy historian and an artist:
He began a search for information about this ancient art and found that granulation reached its apex in the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. Over the intervening years, however, the technique was virtually lost.
Miller found little else written about granulation. When he asked goldsmiths about it, only one or two even knew the rudiments.
He researched archeological journals and finally discovered one devoted to granulation. The author speculated that certain alloys could form a eutectic bond (at the lowest possible temperature of solidification) when heated in a reducing atmosphere. This would permit the precision fusion of tiny spheres of metal on to a surface just like Miller had seen. Ordinarily, when solder is used, it tends to fill in corners and blend the shapes. However, in the fusion process, the granules are attached at only very small contact points, giving them the effect of floating above the surface like balloons on a quiet lake.
But enough of all that, pictures:
Those are mine. These are other ones from around the web: