17 February 2011, 16:15

Siberia: bringing the world the tiniest aquarium

Siberia: bringing the world the tiniest aquarium
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Just two teaspoons of water – that’s all that the world’s smallest aquarium can hold. It was created by a micro-miniature extraordinaire Anatoly Konenko, who hails from the Siberian city of Omsk.

Just two teaspoons of water – that’s all that the world’s smallest aquarium can hold. It was created by a micro-miniature extraordinaire Anatoly Konenko, who hails from the Siberian city of Omsk. A glass cube measuring 30 by 24 by 14 mm, complete with sand, multi-coloured stones and seaweed can contain 10 ml of water and play home to tiny fish. But that’s not all – the mini-aquarium is equipped with a water purification filter. It took the skillful master about two weeks to fashion it.

Anatoly Konenko has been fiddling around with micro-miniatures for 30 years – he was the first such craftsman in Siberia. He worked out how to write on rice grains, poppy seeds even human hair, and created the necessary micro-instruments to do this. He got his son into miniatures too: the micro-aquarium is fruit of joint labour by Konenko senior and junior.

"My son breeds fish," Anatoly explains. "As we were looking at them, we toyed with the idea of building them a tiny fishbowl, which got us thinking about the smallest aquarium in the world. Turned out it had a volume of 60ml and we thought – we can beat that! After we did all our calculating, turned out we could manage 10ml," he enthuses.

Only baby fish can fit inside the tiny glass cube that is the world’s smallest aquarium. Yet this isn’t Anatoly Konenko’s first record. In 2002, his micro-book that measured less than 1 sq. mm entered the Guinness Book of Records. But notwithstanding its size, it adhered to all rules: offset printing, hardback binding and all. Meanwhile, the micro-miniaturist’s most recent accomplishment until now was the smallest ever functioning mousetrap: 6 by 3mm.

Nevertheless, Anatoly Konenko has plenty more micro-masterpieces up his sleeve, including a violin for a grasshopper, a camel caravan that fits inside a needle ear, an alphabet inscribed on a hair, a zoo that balances on a dragonfly’s wing and the most stunning display of all: a model Eiffel tower that teeters on a mosquito’s antenna. Meanwhile, Konenko has gone one better than forging a shoe for a flea – which he insists is no hard task – and made it a set of jewellery, including necklaces and pendants.

For me, micro-miniature is a form of self-expression, Anatoly Konenko says:

"I can put everything I study, everything I see around me, into my art – this is how I express myself. This is my life, this is everything that I do. I know other masters and they know me – but only through my work. I communicate with Russian craftsmen via the Internet – we discuss all novelties that come about. But we don’t judge each other’s work. We don’t compete: there are lots of areas and everyone works in their own field. If someone has done something notable, I’m only glad that this person lives in Russia. There aren’t that many of them and we should know who they are and be proud of what they’ve done for our country," insists Konenko.

Anatoly Konenko has taken his works to the US, Germany, France, the Czech Republic, Spain, Japan and China. His works can be found in many museums around the world, in private collections and in libraries. The presidents of Russia, Korea, Belarus, the Czech Republic and Slovenia treasure his masterpieces. And who knows what place the world’s tiniest aquarium from Siberia will call home.

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