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Billions of years of life, science and history in the palm of your hand! Curated and handcrafted to inspire for generations.
Billions of years of life, science and history in the palm of your hand! Curated and handcrafted to inspire for generations.
Billions of years of life, science and history in the palm of your hand! Curated and handcrafted to inspire for generations.
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3,254 backers pledged $1,068,328 to help bring this project to life.

We're in Production! Massive Production Update, Surveys on 12/1, Add-Ons and Instructions, The Surprising Clarity of 28,500,000 Year Old Glass

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Hello, everyone!

This is going to be a very long update, so thank you in advance for your patience. They won't all be this long, but we've been up to a lot the last two weeks and there is much to share!

First, I'm excited to report that everything is on track for the production of Mini Museums!  Major details are included below along with a reveal of the Mini Museum Touch, T-Shirts, and the Neanderthal Hand Axe Fragment reward.

I've also completed the setup of BackerKit. The BackerKit team is now reviewing our setup. If all goes well, we plan to send surveys on Tuesday, December 1st.  This should give everyone time to review the add-ons and instructions included in this update.  It will also avoid any conflicts with the US Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday and Friday.

Finally, I've also included details about the Libyan Desert Glass specimen - so let's begin!

In Production!

I'm very excited to announce that the first batch of production samples are complete and they look amazing.

Stephanie and I reviewing Second Edition Production Samples
Stephanie and I reviewing Second Edition Production Samples

Now that Kickstarter has released the funds from the campaign to us, we're moving forward with full production on schedule.

Line of Production Samples - Looking great!
Line of Production Samples - Looking great!

We're going to start using production samples in all of our images going forward so there will be many more pictures, as well as images of the process itself!

Rebates Complete / Additional Production Notes

In addition to beginning production, we've completed rebates for the $319 and $349 tiers. If you are in one of these tiers and have not received your rebate confirmation, please check your junk mail folder or contact us at service@minimuseum.com and we'll get things straightened out right away.

I'm also happy to report that the Companion Guide is at the printer and Display Boxes are in production. I should have production samples to share very soon, along with some video from the printing plant right here in Northern Virginia.

Mini Museum Touch Gets a Companion Guide Upgrade

Not to be left out, the Mini Museum Touch is also in production! Here is the first completed Second Edition Touch!

Mini Museum Touch - Second Edition
Mini Museum Touch - Second Edition

The Touch Mini Museum comes in a glass-fronted riker case. All 26 specimens are encased inside acrylic gem jars and each gem jar has a removable top.

Mammoth Meat Specimen from the Mini Museum Touch
Mammoth Meat Specimen from the Mini Museum Touch

During assembly of the Touch, I noticed that the new printed Companion Guide would fit perfectly in the remaining empty space so I've decided to upgrade all Mini Museum Touches by providing a complimentary printed Companion Guide.

Closeup Mini Museum Touch with Lid Off and Prototype Companion Guide Exposed
Closeup Mini Museum Touch with Lid Off and Prototype Companion Guide Exposed

Second Edition Add-Ons

We have quite a few add-ons set up in BackerKit.  I've included all of the product details here as well as some additional information and images about each item.

Larger add-on items (Mini Museums, Neanderthal Hand Axe Fragment, T-Shirts, and the Carson Digital Microscope) carry additional shipping fees since they tip the weight of your package into the next shipping tier.  These prices are listed in BackerKit and you will be able to review them once you receive your invite on December 1st.

Extra Mini Museums! - $299

This add-on includes an Acrylic Second Edition Mini Museum with Custom Microfiber Pouch and a Printed Companion Guide. Given our tight production schedule we are limiting this add-on to just two (2) per backer.

Kickstarter Exclusive Second Edition T-Shirt - $20

Yes, at long last we have the shirt for the project!

This exclusive design will only be offered to Kickstarter backers. The price is $20 for the unisex style, which will be printed on high quality, 100% cotton Gildan t-shirts. As with our last campaign we are also offering fitted styles for Men and Women which will be printed on 100% cotton American Apparel (Men) and Anvil (Women's) t-shirts.

Please note: There is an additional $5 charge for the fitted styles as they are more expensive to produce.

The design for the shirt will be printed on dark brown shirts. The exact color of the shirts varies from style to style as indicated by the image below:

Medieval Chain Mail Ring - $12

Macro Image of Medieval Chain Mail
Macro Image of Medieval Chain Mail

When we finished preparing Medieval Chain Mail, we had a limited number of rings left over. I thought it would be fun to offer these as an add-on specimens since they are quite durable and very unique. A small, glossy display card will accompany each ring.

Neanderthal Hand Axe Fragment - $39

As part of the specimen preparation process, I noticed that some larger fragments would make excellent display pieces in their own right so we offered these pieces as as part of the campaign. Many of you have asked if it would be possible to add-on this item to your pledge and I'm happy to say that we have enough to offer a limited number.

Neanderthal Hand Axe Fragment in Riker Case
Neanderthal Hand Axe Fragment in Riker Case

The fragments range in size, color and texture but they are approximately 3/4"-1" in length (20-25mm). As shown, the Neanderthal Hand Axe Fragment ships in a small, glass-fronted riker box display case (3.25" x 4.25"). It includes a small card describing the specimen. This is also the same gift package the backers at $39 will receive.

I'll be covering the Neanderthal Hand Axe specimen in more detail in a later Project Update, but as a preview the image below shows the tools used for the earliest stages of preparation:

Traditional Flint Knapping Tools Used During Preparation
Traditional Flint Knapping Tools Used During Preparation

This material is incredibly durable, and bone and stone proved to be the most effective tools for getting just the right sized pieces to further shape into Mini Museum specimens.

Tinysaurs! - $10

Tinysaurs are small, detailed skeleton sculptures you put together which resemble their larger "cousins". 

Completed Tinysaurs
Completed Tinysaurs

I've selected three different styles which also happen to connect to specimens in the Second Edition: Hominosaur, Stegosaurus, Woolly "Tiny" (aka Mammoth).

Assembling a Tinysaur is both fun and challenging! The final skeletons are about 1" (25mm) long.

Tinysaur Parts Sheet
Tinysaur Parts Sheet

We used a pair of locking tweezers to help hold pieces in just the right place.

Tinysaur Hominosaur Under Construction
Tinysaur Hominosaur Under Construction

The resulting showpieces are fun to display right along side your Mini Museum!

Tinysaurs with Second Edition Production Sample
Tinysaurs with Second Edition Production Sample

Carson Optics eFlex Digital Microscope - $50

I love looking at the Mini Museum through the microscope in my lab. I also enjoy sharing the macro photos of the specimens with all of you. I also thought that all of you would enjoy the same experience.

Mini Museum Helpers Jen and Andrea reviewing the Ammonite specimen in one of the production samples
Mini Museum Helpers Jen and Andrea reviewing the Ammonite specimen in one of the production samples

The key to looking at the Mini Museum through a magnifier is focal distance. Some microscopes have a very short focal distance, which means you really can't get down to the specimen level. The eFlex from Carson Optical is able to focus across a broad range, allowing in-depth exploration of even the largest specimens.

Carson Optics eFlex with Second Edition Production Sample
Carson Optics eFlex with Second Edition Production Sample

The eFlex also has a number of great features:

  • Magnification: 75x/300x
  • Resolution: 640x480 up to 1600 x 1200 
  • Flexible stand with suction cup, but you can also use the microscope without the support arm
  • Still and Video Capture capabilities built into the software
  • Image capture button right on the Microscope body
Taking a picture with just a tap
Taking a picture with just a tap

The software for the eFlex runs on the latest versions of Microsoft Windows and Apple's OSX. It will not work with tablets.

Second Edition Amalgam Card - $8

The Mini Museum Amalgam Card is a special mixture of all the specimens in the Second Edition, infused in resin and presented inside a gift card which I personally hand sign.

The all-new design of the Second Edition Amalgam card will be revealed in a Project Update.

Donate to the Educational Donation Program

After the success of the First Edition, I was able to realize this dream by sending Mini Museums to schools, libraries, and other educational institutions at no cost. I plan to continue this program with each edition of the Mini Museum going forward, which your generous support helps in part to fund.

Children in the UK using the Mini Museum for topic work.
Children in the UK using the Mini Museum for topic work.

Many of you have written in to ask how you can donate directly to the Educational Donation Program, and I'm pleased to say that we've added a special add-on to so that you can do this. The add-on has several simple drop-down options to make it simple to contribute at varying levels. 100% of the funds from this add-on will be used to manufacture and ship Mini Museums around the world.

Extra Companion Guides and Custom Microfiber Pouches ($15 and $8)

Every Mini Museum will come with a Printed Companion Guide and every Acrylic Mini Museum comes with a Custom Microfiber Pouch. However, we will also be offering limited numbers of these items as add-ons as well.

The Second Edition pouches are milk chocolate in color, matching the theme for the shirt.

Survey Process Step By Step

Surveys will be sent out by email on Tuesday, December 1st.

What follows here are the instructions for filling out your BackerKit survey when it arrives. This is mainly targeted towards the first time backer, so perhaps I should explain why we are using BackerKit in the first place.

Kickstarter is a way for project creators to gather funds to complete a project. This means that when physical rewards are delivered it is up to the project creator to find a way to gather up shipping details and other information from backers. Kickstarter provides a built-in survey, but for more complex projects creators often turn to outside software like BackerKit.

When the surveys go out, you will receive an email from BackerKit that looks like this:

Example BackerKit Invite Email
Example BackerKit Invite Email

This is your invitation to provide your shipping address and to select any additional items you might like to add on to your pledge. Simply click the button and you'll be on your way!

Example survey start - Live help is available by clicking Need Help at the top right
Example survey start - Live help is available by clicking Need Help at the top right

The link in your email is specific to you, so BackerKit should already know which tier you are in and how much you have pledged.

Example pledge screen
Example pledge screen

Each reward tier is already configured with the items you will receive as part of your pledge.

Close-up of rewards automatically added
Close-up of rewards automatically added

After checking the default items for your pledge, you'll be able to select your add-ons:

Add-on Selections
Add-on Selections

When you click the the VIEW button on any add-on, a pop-up will show you details about that item.

Medieval Chain Mail Add-On Details
Medieval Chain Mail Add-On Details

Just click ADD TO CART to add this item to your order.  You can also increase the quantity on this screen as well.  Some items also have additional options.

Donation Options for the Educational Donation Program
Donation Options for the Educational Donation Program

Again, just select your options and then click ADD TO CART.

When you've finished adding items to your order, you're ready for the next step!

Example Add-On Total
Example Add-On Total

Clicking the NEXT button will take you to the shipping address screen:

Example Address Entry Screen
Example Address Entry Screen

If you are in the United States, BackerKit will check your address against the postal service records.  If it finds a different address, the system will ask you to confirm the changes:

Please note: It is very important that you enter a phone number.  If you do not enter your phone number, you will not be able to proceed with your survey.  We will only use this information on shipping and customs documentation.

After finishing your address, you'll have a chance to review your entire order including all of the rewards automatically assigned to your pledge level.  If you added more items, you'll be able to provide payment here.

Example payment screen
Example payment screen

Even if you do not have an outstanding balance you need to hit that big green CONFIRM button.  Below is an example of a pledge without a balance just for reference:

Example of pledge without a balance - Make sure to CONFIRM!
Example of pledge without a balance - Make sure to CONFIRM!

Once you've confirmed your details, you'll see a screen like the one below:

Tip: If you haven't seen this screen, you're not done!
Tip: If you haven't seen this screen, you're not done!

You will receive an email confirmation of your completed pledge but if you notice in the top right corner of the image above, there is a VIEW CONFIRMATION button.  If you click that button you'll see a screen similar to this:

Example of the pledge confirmation screen
Example of the pledge confirmation screen

Until we lock down the project you'll be able to edit your address and your add-ons.  After that point, you'll need to contact us if you need to make a change.

The current lockdown date is December 8th.  At this point we will lock down all open pledges and charge for any outstanding add-ons.

Special Information for T-Shirt Backers

If you backed the T-Shirt Level, you will receive credit that can be used for any add-on, including shirts. This will allow you to change your shirt to one of the fitted styles or even select completely different add-ons.

Notice Shirt-Only backers will receive when logging in
Notice Shirt-Only backers will receive when logging in
Example Shirt-Only Backer Add-On Screen
Example Shirt-Only Backer Add-On Screen

Thank you all so very much! We're looking forward to sending you your survey next week!

The Surprising Clarity of 28,500,000 Year Old Glass

Thinking back to the beginning of the update and the beauty of the new production samples, I thought it would only be appropriate to close out this very, very long update with the surprising clarity of Libyan Desert Glass.

Closeup of Libyan Glass Specimen in the Production Sample
Closeup of Libyan Glass Specimen in the Production Sample

In the southeastern spur of North Africa's Great Sand Sea, there are several fields of luminous, yellow-green glass known as Libyan Desert Glass (LDG). Due to the lack of any visible impact crater, the most likely source is a low-density asteroid or comet airburst explosion leading to the fusion of silica-rich sands roughly 28,500,000 years ago.

Map of the Great Sand Sea
Map of the Great Sand Sea

The distribution of Libyan Desert Glass across several sites leads some scientists to speculate that there may have been multiple explosions, though recent surveys of the surrounding watershed provide stronger evidence for distribution by erosion.

While the dunes of the Great Sand Sea may seem timeless, during the Early to Middle Paleolithic Era the region was often home to a wetter climate capable of supporting playa wetlands. Further to the south, in what is now one of the least hospitable places on earth, permanent lakes and savanna grasslands supported an even greater abundance of life.

Artifact sketches from "Silica-glass from the Libyan Desert", Nature, 1933 [Available as a PDF from the Mineralogical Society http://www.minersoc.org/pages/Archive-MM/Volume_23/23-144-501.pdf]
Artifact sketches from "Silica-glass from the Libyan Desert", Nature, 1933 [Available as a PDF from the Mineralogical Society http://www.minersoc.org/pages/Archive-MM/Volume_23/23-144-501.pdf]

Throughout the region, there is plentiful evidence of multiple periods of early human settlement. Coming and going as the climate changed, our ancestors shaped the glass into tools and decorative items, but paleolithic cultures are not the only ones to use the glass.

Image of burial pectoral from Treasures of Tutankhamen, 1972
Image of burial pectoral from Treasures of Tutankhamen, 1972

When English archeologist Howard Carter catalogued the tomb of King Tutankhamen in 1922, he identified the scarab at the center of this pectoral as chalcedony, a naturally occurring silica formation. Seventy-five years later, a chance viewing by an Italian mineralogist named Vincenzo de Michele led to studies which revealed the material to be Libyan Desert Glass.

This 18th Dynasty find is unique among the gems of ancient Egypt, as it is the only known use of Libyan Glass. The scarab is part of a twofold representation of the sun-god, which in Egyptian mythology could be represented by both scarab and falcon.

In addition to the translucent color of the scarab in King Tutankhamen's burial pectoral, Libyan Desert Glass also comes in much darker colors.

Libyan Desert Glass
Libyan Desert Glass

The specimen in the Mini Museum comes from several fragments of Libyan Desert Glass, including the large chunk pictured above and the lighter fragments pictured below.

Varied colors of Libyan Desert Glass
Varied colors of Libyan Desert Glass

The silica content of Libyan Desert Glass is nearly 98%. Fused silica glass this pure is commonly used in high temperature applications, and is very resistant to weathering. It also happens to be very clear. The color of the recovered fragments indicate concentrations of olivine, orthopyroxene, and rare earth elements.

Preparing the Libyan Desert Glass for inclusion is a delicate process, as the shards can be quite sharp.  After several stages of reduction with precision glass cutters, specimens are carefully reviewed for size and shape.

The glass is quite pure so I wasn't sure how it would look in the acrylic, but I'm really excited about the way this specimen turned out!

Whew!

So that was quite an update! I am so excited that we've started production and I hope you like the add-ons we've selected for the Second Edition. 

As always, thank you all so very much for your kind and generous support of the Mini Museum. We are doing everything possible to make sure your Mini Museums are the best Mini Museums possible.

Preparing custom shipping containers for Martian Atmosphere (Zagami)
Preparing custom shipping containers for Martian Atmosphere (Zagami)

The entire team will be taking Thursday and Friday off this week in celebration of Thanksgiving here in the United States.  For those of you traveling this week, I wish you well and hope you have a safe and pleasant journey!

Now, it's back to work!

- Hans

Kayla Halleur, Nora, and 23 more people like this update.

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Michele Nedelka on December 1, 2015

      Be still my nerdy little heart! I was so excited to get my survey today and can't wait to see this mini museum. Thanks, Hans - this is fantastic!

    2. Experiencing Life to the Fullest-Da Wolf
      Superbacker
      on December 1, 2015

      Those prices include shipping.

    3. Experiencing Life to the Fullest-Da Wolf
      Superbacker
      on December 1, 2015

      Note: microscope is $60 and hand axe fragment is $44.

    4. Hans Fex 3-time creator
      Superbacker
      on December 1, 2015

      Thank you for your support, @Kobe!! :)

    5. Kobe Vervoort on December 1, 2015

      Thank you Hans and good luck with your project!

    6. Hans Fex 3-time creator
      Superbacker
      on December 1, 2015

      Hello, @Kobe. The surveys will go out at 3PM ET (NY/DC Time)

    7. Kobe Vervoort on November 30, 2015

      Hello Hans, can you tell me how late you are going to send the surveys? Because I live in Belgium and I don't want to miss it. Thank you!

    8. Hans Fex 3-time creator
      Superbacker
      on November 25, 2015

      @Impact! Miniatures - Helper Jamie here! Thank you so much. We'll definitely send out the survey to all backers.

    9. Impact! Miniatures on November 25, 2015

      Please make sure to send the BackerKit to me. I know I'm at the $1 level but it was to get add-ons that you just now announced. Would have gladly included in my pledge if they had been announced earlier. So just wanted to make sure that I got a chance to send you some more money. Thanks!

    10. Missing avatar

      Luke Hunt on November 25, 2015

      Amazing update Hans!

    11. Richard Overall on November 24, 2015

      You write the best updates Hans - your enthusiasm is visceral! Love the add-ons, will definitely be including a couple of them. And really interesting to read more about the Libyan Desert Glass. It certainly is a wonderful world.

    12. Kayla Halleur
      Superbacker
      on November 24, 2015

      What a brilliant update! Also, I'm loving the idea of the microscope add-on. I assume that this won't be a limited add-on, as it wasn't mentioned as such like the other limited items?
      Have a relaxing few days off - you and your team deserve it! :)