An Art of Attraction: The Electrotyping Process


See how nineteenth century technology brought art and science together. This 3-D animation was produced to accompany an exhibition of the Met’s collection of electrotypes — Victorian-era copies of decorative objects made using an electro-chemical process. One of the main pieces of the exhibition is the Bryant Vase, designed by Tiffany and Company. The vase itself was copied by electrotyping and the exhibit accompanies the original with its copper molds. Using the Bryant Vase as the main character, this short animation was created to explain how electrotyping works.

The video starts with slow zoom of a photo of the original vase, then transitions to a 3-D model which animates to show the steps in which a mold is created and immersed in a copper-sulfate bath. A “microscopic” view explains how copper ions transmit in the the bath from a positively charged copper bar to the negatively charged mold. Finally, the individual pieces are reassembled into a near-identical copy of the original and plated in silver.

By using 3-D modeling software we are able to provide visitors with a greater understanding of the technology behind the art they are viewing.


The video is now on permanent display in the American Wing's visible storage together with the copper molds.

Produced for The Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition Victorian Electrotypes: Old Treasures, New Technology in 2011.

Animation displayed in gallery on wall-mounted screen; also published online.

Director and producer: Paco Link
3-D Animator: Piotr Kaczmarek
Production coordinator: Staci Hou
Curator and writer: Eileen Alcorn