I left Al's studio in 1978 to go independent, and thanks to a government grant I was able to study holographic special effects (such as double-exsposure interferometry).
At one point during my research, I remember trying to solve a holographic problem with a freeze-drying technique.
Back then, freeze-drying was still a new process for drying and preserving plants and meats. Prior to freeze-drying, dehydration was the only way to dry perishable foods. Unfortunately, dehydrated foods often look dark and wrinkled (like raisins). By comparison, freeze-dried foods look realistic when dry.
The technology seemed interesting, so I built a small freeze-dryer and tested it with a fresh strawberry. The final freeze-dried strawberry looked just like the original fresh strawberry, but without the water. And without the water, it weighed less than a feather.
It was beautiful. In fact, it was so beautiful it inspired me to freeze-dry all sorts of foods such as carrots, brussel sprouts, chicken wings and sausages.
I also discovered that freeze-dried tissues could be cut, sanded, glued, drilled and painted just like the balsa wood used to make model airplanes.
And then it dawned on me ... I was looking at a new sculptural medium.