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Chihuly and The Pilchuck Glass School

This coastal corner of the true PNW is full of people who see the world differently.

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“People for centuries have been fascinated with glass. It transmits light in a special way, and at any moment it might break. It’s the most magical of all materials.” Dale Chihuly, 1992

Glass captures human imagination in a way that no other media is able to. For centuries the hot and laborious art of glass was practiced in European industrial factories.

In the 1960s, notable Northwest artist Dale Chihuly started elevating glassblowing to the level of fine art. He manipulated the liquid properties of the media to sculpt brilliant multicolored abstractions.

In the 1970s, Chihuly and other like-minded artists set up a hot shop in the middle of the woods in Seattle NorthCountry. It was like a summer camp where everyone worked together to make blow-glass abstractions from a cobbled-together hot shop.

Amazingly, their “school” survived and is now a world-renowned institution. The Pilchuck Glass School (“Pilchuck” is an indigenous word for the local red river) is coming up on its 51st birthday.

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The warped-color visions of founder Chihuly have taken on dozens of variations in successive generations of artists. Craftspeople at Pilchuck now create neon signs, printed digital art and even advanced glass toy robots around their fiery hot shop in the forest.

The Pilchuck campus is typically closed to the public due to the meditative nature of blowing glass. But once a year you can buy art from the artists of Pilchuck and donate money to the mission of the school.

This fall, Pilchuck is having its 41st Annual Auction & Gala at Fremont Studios in Seattle. The public is welcome to attend and tickets are needed. You find some of the world’s greatest art at this gala, presented on a catwalk by auctioneers and models.

If you appreciate fine art you will like Seattle NorthCountry. Consider staying in nearby Edmonds, Washington to visit the Cascadia Art Museum (featuring the work of many Pacific Northwest artists), or go to Everett to visit the Schack Art Center and take a glassblowing class yourself.

This coastal corner of the true PNW is full of people who see the world differently.

Let the art of the Pilchuck Glass School capture your eye. See for yourself why it’s the most magical of all materials.

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