lantern. Even if the lamp broke in a flammable
atmosphere, no accident would result. It was
used for firefighting in Paris and New York, in
mining, and for finding gas leaks.
STAGECRAFT TO AIRCRAFT: A living chandelier of
dancers adorned in Trouvé’s electrically lighted
jewelry for The Chicken That Laid the Golden Eggs,
performed in Paris and Berlin; electro-mobile jewelry
by Trouvé included a drumming rabbit, flapping bird,
and chattering skull; Trouvé’s second “mechanical
bird” ornithopter, driven by gunpowder.
Did you ever invent just for fun?
Of all things, I became an international sensation
as a jewelry maker and theatrical designer.
I started making electro-mobile jewelry in
1865 — rabbits drumming, birds and butterflies
flapping, decapitated heads talking, a grenadier
playing a drum. Everyone wanted them! Mounted
on gold or on tiepins, the minuscule creatures
were animated with the aid of an invisible wire
attached to a cigar-sized, sealed battery hidden
in a waistcoat pocket. Très amusant!
After the military events of 1870, I made
electrically illuminated crystal jewelry in myriad
colors and shapes. It, too, was all the rage, but
nothing compared to the audience and media
acclaim when I incorporated lighted crystals in
dance, theater, and opera costumes and props.
Neither language nor images can sufficiently
convey the effect on the major stages of Paris,
London, Berlin, and beyond. For the time, it was
the most considerable application of electrical
illumination directly from batteries. Imagine a
ballet of illuminated amazons, a bejeweled chandelier of sparkling dancers, Neptune’s chariot
aglow, and the duel in Faust with lighted swords
flashing on a darkened stage. Quel plaisir!
Given the many inventions I exhibited at major
expositions, it seems fitting that my last spectacle
on the international stage appeared in 1889 at
the Exposition Universelle in Paris. My enormous
lighted fountain, which I would patent in 1893, was a
sensation at the end of a transformational century.
With hope that in some small way I lit their
paths or electrified their imaginations, I salute
all inventors and makers who succeeded me.
Au revoir et bonne chance!
Karen Hansen makes classical music, stories, and
photographs in Minneapolis and on her travels throughout Europe, Asia, and America. She interviews artists,
entrepreneurs, gardeners, judges, professors, and makers.
36 Make: Volume 17