Harmful Viruses Made of Beautiful Glass

When glass blower Luke Jerram saw visualizations of viruses and pathogens in the scientific world he noticed one big theme: color. Wondering what effect the artificial color in normal scientific drawings had on our interpretation of these invisibly small forms, he created his own exquisite versions out of his favorite material: blown glass. Covering such well known maladies as AIDS and Swine Flu, his works are both beautiful and disturbing, challenging observers to reinterpret their view of the tiny organisms. The pieces, each about 1,000,000 times the size of the actual pathogen, were designed with help from virologists from the University of Bristol using a combination of scientific photographs and models. See more of on this unique work at lukejerram.com .

Swine Flu


E. Coli

E. Coli Detail

Human Papilloma (HPV)


Small Pox


T4 Bacteriophage

HIV Sculpture by Luke Jerram

There are 13 comments

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  1. Ellie K

    That is such a simple, obvious idea. Yet no one thought to do this until now!

    We’ve known what viruses look like under close magnification for decades. And how to blow glass for centuries. It is very inspiring: Because it shows that inventive minds can create breathtakingly beautiful and original things out of existing technology.

    Nice touch, giving the Swine Flu virus a pink-ish color! I liked that a lot.

  2. Gary

    Your work is remarkable. Truly beautiful. I’m a clinical microbiologist by training and I see the wonder and beauty in your work.

  3. Monika Watts

    As a child I saw glass models of jellyfish in the Natural History Museum in Vienna – this work is equally remarkable and inspiring. I envy the skill!

  4. charles

    Beautiful indeed, although it is a traditional method in museums, for example in 1925:
    “On account of the popular interest in Synura, the protozoan animalcule which has recently been spoiling the taste and odor of the drinking water of New York City, a glass model representing a colony of this organism, prepared by the department of lower invertebrates, was placed on special exhibition in the foyer of the American Museum in January and has attracted considerable attention.”
    Nice work nonetheless.

  5. Jeff

    I recently saw two of your pieces at the Museum of Art and Design in NY. Amazing work. I shared them with my AP Bio students as soon as I was back in the classroom.

  6. Dang

    This guy must have leather hands, that glass would be getting extremely hot even at that distance away from the heat source….

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