Heart of Glass: The Art of Medical Models
Gary Farlow can make art out of arteries. He and his team of 10 at Farlow’s Scientific Glassblowing are able to transform the body’s vasculature—and nearly all of its other parts—into an ornate borosilicate glass sculpture, from the heart’s ventricles to the brain’s circle of Willis. “We do almost every part of the body,” Farlow says. “It can take a pretty artistic mind to make some of these things.” With the help of cardiologists, the team creates custom see-through systems for science and medical training. Their anatomically correct models can be designed to simulate blood flow, teach placement of catheters and angioplasty devices, or simply test or demo new surgical gizmos. Individual arteries, veins, and capillaries are shaped and fused together, one at a time. Ground-glass joints are added at the exposed ends so a head, say, can be connected to the carotid arteries should customers want to expand their model. A full-body setup could cost $25,000, so don’t get any bright ideas about using one as a brandy decanter.