Only Murano island, near Venice, Italy has more glassblowing studios than found in Seattle. Read more about the history of glass and development of the art in Seattle:
While the history of glass is, as the saying goes “old as dirt”, glass blowing, manufactured glass, and glass art is much more recent.
Naturally occurring forms of glass such as volcanic obsidian glass has been known since the Stone Age (see the map of Washington State obsidian sources below). Manufactured glass and glass blowing came much later. And, glass art is a recent phenomenon steeped in Seattle history.
Early glass making throughout Europe and Asia came about as a by-product of metalworking. Eventually, glass manufacturing techniques were developed to make carvings, beads, vessels, building materials, and other products. Brought by early Americans to the United States, glass manufacturers sprang up around the country to create pressed, blown, molded, formed, and cut glass pieces. Many of the names are still famous today such as Anchor Hocking, Ball, Corning, Libbey, Safelite, and Steuben, to name a few.
Glass Art: the American Studio Glass Movement
In 1962, ceramics professor Harvey Littleton started the first university glass art program at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. This was made possible in part through an invention by his associate, glass research scientist Dominick Labino. The pair devised a small, inexpensive furnace in which glass could be melted and worked. The affordable process made it possible for artists to blow glass in independent studios. Some of Littleton’s early students included Marvin Lipofsky, Fritz Dreisbach, and Tacoma native Dale Chihuly–all artists who have played an important roles in the art of glass making. And so began the American Studio Glass movement.
Two years later in 1964, Marvin Lipofsk started another glass art program at the University of California in Berkeley. That same year, Dale Chihuly and patrons Anne Gould Hauberg and John H. Hauberg hosted the first glassblowing workshop at the Pilchuck Glass School.
Located 50 miles north of Seattle in Stanwood, Washington, the Pilchuck campus is situated on a 15,000-acre tree farm along the banks of the Pilchuck, which means “red river” in the Native American language of the region. The river’s name eludes to its banks, which are red from iron deposits in the surrounding soil.
Over the years, Pilchuck glass artists and students, along with European master glass artists who brought knowledge of traditional materials and techniques, worked together to invent new glass forms and glass working methods. This fusion of Old World craftsmanship with New World artistic expression propelled Pilchuck school to the epicenter of glass art education around the world. Today, Pilchuck hosts hundreds of artists and students each year, continuing to inspire creativity in the world of glass art.
While glass technologies prior to this time focused on proprietary manufacturing processes, the American Studio Glass movement highlights the artist as designer and maker, one-of-a-kind objects, international character, and “open source” sharing of technical knowledge that would not have been possible in prior industrial productions.
Glass Blowing Studios and Glass Art Galleries
Today, Seattle is the epicenter for glass blowing worldwide. Only Murano island, near Venice, Italy has more glassblowing studios than found in Seattle.
Issaquah Glass Studios and Galleries
Art by Fire Glass Gallery & School, 195 Front St N, Issaquah, WA. Glass school and gallery. Why go: watch glassblowing, buy unique glass objects, take classes, hold events.
Redmond Glass Studios and Galleries
Redmond School of Glass & Gallery, 7102 180th Ave NE, Redmond, WA 98052 (near SR 520 and 202). Blown glass studio classes, parties, and art gallery. Why go: watch glassblowing, buy unique glass objects, take classes, hold events.
Seattle Glass Studios and Galleries
Avalon Glassworks, 2914 SW Avalon Way, Seattle, WA 98126. Located less than 10 minutes from downtown Seattle at the foot of the West Seattle Bridge. A working hot shop where you can talk to the artists, see the process, and buy gifts of hand made art. Why go: watch glass blowers create unique décor right in front of you, buy unique glass objects.
Blowing Sands Glass Studio & Gallery, 5805 14th Ave NW, Seattle WA 98107. Northwest artists, glass studio, and gallery. Why go: watch glassblowing, buy unique glass objects.
Glassbaby Hotshop & Gallery, 3406 E Union St, Seattle, WA 98122. Watch glassblower artisans make glassbaby votives. Why go: see flagship store and buy glassbaby votives and glasses.
Glasshouse Studio & Gallery, 311 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104. Glass art gallery, glassblowing demos (Mo-Sa 10AM or 1PM), exclusive group tours. Why go: see glassblowing, take a tour, buy unique glass objects.
Molten Works Glass Studio, 12810 NE 178th St., Woodinville, WA 98072. A fused glass studio focused on teaching classes that introduce you to the art of fusing glass. Open studio hours for those who have attended a class. Why go: fun introduction to fused glass technique through classes or regular attendance through membership.
Pilchuck Glass School gallery, 240 Second Ave S, Seattle WA, 98104. Showcase glass artists from around the world who’ve worked with Pilchuck. Why go: rotating exhibits, works and stories of worldwide glass artists.
Pratt Fine Arts Center, 1902 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98144. Community programs and art instruction for all ages, all skill levels and all abilities in professionally equipped art making facilities. The fall open house features live art demos, hands-on art making activities, music, and food trucks. Why go: take classes in glass making as well as metals, wood, stone, drawing, painting, and printmaking.
Rainier Glass Studio & Gallery, 6006 12th Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108. Glass blowing studio and art gallery. Why go: buy unique glass object, schedule glassblowing activity.
Seattle Glassblowing Studio & Gallery, 2227 5th Ave. Seattle, WA 98121. Art gallery and interactive glassblowing studio. Why go: see unique glass objects, buy gifts or learn glassblowing techniques.
Stanwood Glass Studios and Galleries
Pilchuck Glass School. Only available during public tours in spring, to learn about and see glass making, talk with artists, and tour the campus. Why go: be inspired by nature and learn about the art of glassmaking.
Tacoma Glass Studios and Galleries
Tacoma Glassblowing Studio & Gallery, 114 S. 23rd St, Tacoma, WA 98402. Family business, glass art gallery and glassblowing classes. Why go: buy unique glass object, take glassblowing classes.
Free glass blowing demos
The following glass blowing studios have free demonstrations of glass art techniques. Some of the galleries offer demonstrations, while others provide the opportunity to watch artists while they work in the hot shop.
Along with their location, we’ve listed typical hours when glass blowing demos are available for public viewing. Be sure to verify details on their website the day you want to see a demo, since availability can vary depending on classes, special events, and holidays that may change their regular operating hours.
Seattle Glassblowing Studio & Gallery, 2227 5th Ave. Seattle, WA 98121. Demos 7 days a week: Monday-Saturday, 9am-6pm and Sunday, 10am – 6pm.
Glasshouse Studio & Gallery, 311 Occidental Ave S, Seattle, WA 98104. Demos 6 days a week: Monday-Saturday, 10am-11:30am and 1pm-5pm. Occasional demonstrations on Sundays.
Tacoma Glassblowing Studio & Gallery, 114 S. 23rd St, Tacoma, WA 98402. Demos 6 days a week: Tuesday-Sunday 9am-5pm.
Art by Fire Glass Gallery & School, 195 Front St N, Issaquah, WA. Demos 5 days a week: Wednesday-Sunday, 9am-6pm.
Avalon Glassworks, 2914 SW Avalon Way, Seattle, WA 98126. Demos 5 days a week: Thursday-Monday, 11am-5pm.