Seattle is a glass city. You can’t help but notice glass art installations, glassblowing studios and galleries dedicated to the art when visiting. You might have also heard of one particular glass artist, who hails from Tacoma and still calls this area home: Dale Chihuly. His glass works can be found around the world. So why Seattle?
In 1971, Dale Chihuly, Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg founded Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, about 90 minutes north of Seattle in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. It’s been growing ever since, and now hosts more than 500 students and artists each summer. This, said Cyrena Stefano, Production Manager at Seattle Glassblowing Studio, is probably one of the reasons Seattle is such a hot bed of glass art. “People decide after they come out, they take classes, [that] they love it here. The climate is fantastic, Seattle’s an amazing city: They just sort of plant their seeds.”
Another reason, said Stefano, is the weather. On the East Coast, it’s very common for hot shops to shut down in the summer. With high temperatures outside plus a 2,000-degree furnace in the hot shop, it’s impossible to work. But, “when it’s 80 degrees and kind of mild, it’s much more manageable.”
If you’re interested in checking out glass art while in town, here are a few favorite spots.
Chihuly Garden and Glass
Seattle Center, 305 Harrison St., 206.753.4940
Seattle Glassblowing Studio
Stop by to peruse their gallery or watch artists at work in the hot shop. They also have half-hour one-on-one blow your own glass sessions and four-hour introductory lessons. Call to schedule a glassblowing experience.
2227 Fifth Ave., 206.448.2181
This art studio has been around since 1977, and regularly has an excellent collection of glass art on display. Vetri, at 1404 First Ave., is the retail side of Traver Gallery, a great spot to buy gifts.
110 Union St., Ste. 200, 206.587.6501
Museum of Glass
Head south of Seattle to visit the Museum of Glass, where you’ll find exhibits, the Chihuly Bridge of Glass and a working hot shop. (Visit the website for a live stream of the hot shop when the museum is open.) Current exhibits include the debut of “Lightness of Being” by Howard Ben Tré and “Made at the Museum: Iittala Birds” by Toikka.
1801 Dock St., Tacoma, 866.468.7386
Visit their Madrona neighborhood store to also see the hot shop in action. glassybaby vessels come in nearly every color imaginable, and make great gifts. Plus, 10 percent of every sale goes to nonprofit organizations.
3406 E. Union St., 206.518.9071
This one is a mall and office building. But trust us. Wander around the halls of the first two floors, and you’ll find a who’s who of international glass art pieces, including a large display of Dale Chihuly’s work, scattered among retail stores and restaurants.
Fifth Ave. and Pike St.