Alfred Keller and his Models

The model of a housefly, 50 times magnified, was built by preparator Alfred Keller in 1932. In its amazing precision and attention to detail, it remains unsurpassed, in spite of the new materials and techniques available today.

From Core to Plaster Cast
In order to produce a life-like model of the housefly at this multiple magnification, Keller first formed a simplified clay core model of the body, of which he then made a plaster cast. Now he put in the details with plasticine. He modelled the wings with all the veins in relief, made a cast and formed them under pressure in heated celluloid.

Detailed Work on Body Hair
When Keller had finally modelled all the details including the mouthparts, legs, antennae and anchoring holes, he made a final negative cast and filled it in with paper maché. Keller perfected the exact positioning of every single body hair. These hairs were made out of various materials with purpose-built precision tools and individually inserted into the paper maché body.

The model was painted with a spray gun, which enabled Keller to replicate the slightly scintillating chitin surface. In order to achieve the golden pigmentation on the head, back and abdomen, he used a gold leaf underlay.

Last update: 06.11.2013