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Art Motives in Snow Crystals




ITH the resumption of manufacture upon a peace basis, a growing demand is being felt throughout the United States for American products which will express a distinctly American spirit in new designs. Manufacturers have voiced the opinion that an added impulse to applied art in this period of reconstruction of trade will come with the introduction of art motives which are not only striking but novel.

The forms of the inorganic kingdom have as yet played little part in the development of art motives which have, up to now, been dependent mainly upon geometrie patterns and upon more or less conventionally treated plant or animal forms. And yet it would seem that at least some of the mineral forms could be successfully substituted for those more stiffly geometric patterns which have been handed down through the centuries as part of our art heritage.

Snow crystals, combining, as they do, a wonderful symmetry of form with a practically inexhaustible variety of six-symmetrie outlines, offer a fertile field for the designer. The snow crystals illustrated in these four pages are only a few examples-chosen from many hundreds of the intricacy and beauty of nature's geometrical designs as expressed in these tiny jewels of the air. The magnified photographs, enlarged about fifteen or twenty diameters, were obtained by the simple method of catching the falling snowflakes on a black screen, which could be immediately introduced on the stage of a low power miscroscope fitted with a photographic apparatus. In order to secure the best results the photographing of the snow crystals should be conducted in the open air while the snow is falling. Snow crystals have, for

many years past, been successfully photographed and studied by Mr. W. A. Bentley, of Jericho, Vermont, and the photographs here reproduced have been selected from his extensive collection.

As a basis for art motives, it would seem that the range of uses to which these natural geometric forms could be applied is fairly comprehensive. Many of them suggest designs for cut and engraved glass in a great variety of applications. The stellate types, repeated with their extremities in contact, or nearly in contact, develop into allover patterns applicable to book covers, oilcloth, wall paper, or textile designs. Some of the more delicately branching forms are strongly suggestive of jewelry designs, as applied to brooches and pendants, either as settings for stones or enameled. The designer of stained glass rose windows may find in some of the compound tabular forms inspiration for unique patterns.

Lace and drawn work, rosettes in fresco, tailpieces for books and magazines, and medallions for the centers of china plates, are some of the suggested uses which might be made of snow crystal motives. In fact the user of geometric designs in any of the decorative arts could well profit by the consideration of these varied and beautiful combinations of six-sided symmetry turned out of nature's studio.

Nor is there any limit to the supply of new motives, derivable from this source. With every fall of snow, in temperate and boreal regions, under the right conditions, more combinations are being added to the thousands already photographed, constituting an ever growing portfolio of designs, and presenting every degree of complexity from a simple hexagonal outline to intricate, branching forms of the compound stellate type.

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The simple variations of the hexagon shown in this group of snow crystals suggest designs which could be used for cut and etched glass as applied to electroliers, bowls, and table glass. They could also be used as the centers of designs for china decoration in raised gold or color. These types of crystals are probably formed in relatively high temperatures and are found especially in local storms

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This type suggests close repeated designs in oilcloth or the conventional wall paper as well as in textiles, such as print fabrics and heavy curtains. These six-pointed stars are apparently a combination of the tabular and stellate types. The small tabular hexagons acquire branches in their journey through the clouds and become otherwise modified by the varying temperature and atmospheric pressure strata through which they fall. The lower right-hand crystal is interesting as an illustration of the not infrequent change from a triangular to a hexagonal form or vice versa. The more elaborate forms of this group merge into such complete stellate designs as are shown on page 436, and are susceptible of similar gold and enamel applications

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This group of very modified crystals would furnish admirable designs for isolated rosettes in fresco. They even suggest rose windows in stained glass and Saracenic lattice work. All of the above forms are but illustrative examples of the many thousands of microphotographs which Mr. W. A. Bentley has taken during the last thirty-five years in Jericho, Vermont, and from which an infinite number of artistic designs adapted to different purposes might be selected

Cinema-microscopy an Essential to Modern Science and Education


(Department of Physiology, American Museum of Natural History)


ANY subjects in the various branches of biology which are discussed in the modern textbook belong to a region of observation inaccessible to the general reader or student. They can be approached only by means of refined techniques applied to special objects not ordinarily available for practical study or demonstration. A knowledge of these subjects must, therefore, in most cases be acquired from textbooks in which illustrations take the place of the living object. Drawings or still pictures, however excellent, cannot always convey an accurate mental picture of the living object. It is extremely difficult for the most skillful technician to represent even in a carefully preserved specimen the exact appearance of the real object. The fixative and stain render the subjects in some measure more or less schematic and embody a considerable subjective element of interpreta


The Cinematograph Faithful to Nature

The cinematograph, whatever its shortcomings, gives an absolutely faithful representation of what appears under the microscope or before its lens; it contains no subjective element save that involved in the focusing of the instrument, and hence conveys a true mental picture-a picture nearest to nature itself.

There is no field of endeavor in which the cinematograph has not been tried, proved, and accepted, with the result that it has become an essential aid. The biologist, particularly, has an immeasurable opportunity for the

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