I took a 17-day architectural glass workshop at the Pilchuck Glass School, located about 50 miles northeast of Seattle. The school was co-founded by well known glass artist, Dale Chihuly in 1971. The building with the slanted roof is the "Hot Shop," the first building built on the campus and where all of the glass blowing is done.
We had beautiful weather almost the entire time - only one foggy day (the previous image) - the rest were sunny and warm.
The workshop was taught by Narcissus Quagliata (left), a master designer of architectural glass. The focus was on creating appropriate glass designs for the architectural setting, and how to best present those designs to a client/architect/public art agency. We did a lot of drawings, watercolor paintings, built maquettes (small scale models) from foam core and wrote a project proposal. We also created glass samples for our final presentation.
My project was a fictitious proposal for glass art in a new San Francisco subway station based on an actual call-for-artists prospectus. Shown here are the foam core maquette (upper left), an enlarged image of the glass design (center), a leaded glass sample (upper center), a fused glass sample (center right) and the pages of my written proposal at the bottom.
My maquette is based on the architectural drawings in the call-for-artists prospectus (it's the design for the new Chinatown subway station). I created an image of San Francisco bay wetlands for the glass.
The sample on the left was made using glass fusing techniques. I wanted the glass to be as interactive as possible so I used transparent glass for the water to enable people to look through to the outside. The darker green wetlands are highly textured, giving the glass tactile as well as visual appeal. The sample on the right is leaded glass - it's not intended to be part of the project but I wanted the experience of taking one of my existing designs and translating it into leaded glass.
Some of the original cottages and cabins built by the early Pilchuck artists still stand on the campus like this tree house built by Buster Simpson. The original cabins were built from glazed windows and doors with little framing and they eventually deteriorated in the damp climate.
The campus is fueled by creative energy - there was so much going on I could hardly keep up with it all. One night some of the staff hosted a shadow dance: we were invited to dance in the dark to live dreamy psychedelic surf guitar and when they turned on the lights, you froze in place and they traced the outline of your shadow onto the wall (someone is getting their shadow outline traced on the right).
The most happening party during our stay was the Student to Student Auction Party where students and instructors donated and then bid on each other's artwork to raise funds for the school. Everyone is invited to suggest and then vote on a party theme and the winning theme was "Brought to you by the letter W." Dressing up in costume to match the theme is a tradition and there was a mad frenzy of costume making the afternoon before the party.
It was impressive to see the variety of creative costumes that people put together on very short notice for the "W" theme
There were two dynamic, talented and fun artists-in-residence during the session and I enjoyed learning about their art and seeing the work they created while at Pilchuck. Pilchuck invites artists who don't necessarily work in glass, partners them with a glass expert Artist Assistant and gives them access to all of the facilities to create work. This was a temporary installation by artist-in-residence, Victoria Haven.
We had an incredible view of Puget Sound from the deck of the lodge at Pilchuck where we had all of our meals and we were treated to sunsets like this almost every night.
4 1/2-minute video of life at Pilchuck, a mesmerizing glass blowing demo by guest artist Dante Marioni and funny wildness from the Auction Party.
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