After I purchased replicas of the Spectacle Wares, I took them to Jordan Tynes and Shane Cox, the Wellesley College experts on scanning and digital modeling. After a few experiments, we found that spraying the cups with a fine powder was necessary for scanning. The scans came through without the color or the reflectivity of the glass, which had to be restored digitally. You can see the resulting models on the Sketchfab page.
When we had the modern replicas in the technology lab, we also experimented with liquids and legibility—thanks to a bottle of cranberry juice from a nearby vending machine. In these images to the right you can see how dark liquids change visibility. I like that filling the cup can isolate the text around the rim and I've wondered if the design also suggested "fill up to here" in antiquity.
Jordan and Shane also 3D-printed one of the models in opaque black, and it inspired a major breakthrough for me. The opacity of the printed plastic helped me notice the effects of translucence in the glass versions. In other words, when the words and images are transferred to an opaque medium, they become legible primarily on the exterior of the vessel wall. It’s a simple observation, but I needed a replica of a replica in order to see it. If you compare the rim of the plastic replica (lower left) to the rim of the glass replica (upper right), you'll see the difference too.
All of these experiments were a key part of my research process behind the scenes.