Glorious Glass: Top 3 Destinations

23 March, 2024 2 comments Leave a comment

If you are like me, whenever this time of year rolls around I yearn to see fresh colour.

Even though the browns and grays of winter still cloak the landscape around me, I am excited to witness the vibrant spectrum of life returning to my world.

Since the full flush of spring is still weeks away, this is the perfect time to bask in rainbow-hued memories from our travels last year. Care to join me?

In this post I am sharing three amazing places we discovered, and they all have to do with extraordinary glass hand-crafted by world class artisans.

Please take a seat, enjoy some exuberant artistic creations, and maybe add these places to your bucket list.

#1: Museum of Glass (Tacoma, Washington)

This premier contemporary art museum opened in 2002, focused exclusively on the work of local glass artist Dale Chihuly. The Museum has since expanded its mission to include works in glass by contemporary artists worldwide.

The Museum of Glass houses the West Coast’s largest and most active Museum Glass studio, which hosts many artists-in-residence and allows visitors to watch them create art from molten glass.

To say the current exhibits of glass art took my breath away would be an understatement. The ever-growing permanent collection as well as travelling exhibits were astounding.

The wall art piece shown below by Amber Cowan is titled Creamer and Sugar, Swans in Sky and measures perhaps two metres across. I added a close up photo for better viewing of this remarkable piece.

Amber starts with historic American pressed glass, like you might find at a thrift store, or in your grandmother's china cabinet. She takes these commonplace items and revitalizes them into an intricate wonderland, by adding hot-sculpted, flame-worked, and blown glass details.

These botanical orbs are blown glass with flame-worked elements by Paul Stankard and each measures about 10 cm in diameter. I looked at these and wondered how on earth he managed to encase intricate glass vignettes in solid clear glass.

Paul is an internationally acclaimed artist and pioneer in the Studio Glass movement. He is considered a living master in the art of the paperweight, and his work is represented in more than 70 museums around the world.

Dale Chihuly is arguably the most famous contemporary glass artist in the world. His name draws vast crowds to site-specific glass installations across the globe as well as to art galleries and museums internationally. His technical and design innovations played a leading role in forming the current perception of glass as fine art.

Pictured here is his Gibson Chandelier at the Museum. It is over three metres tall and two metres wide. A close up photo of it is shown at the beginning of this article.

The city of Tacoma recognized and honoured its native son and glass maker with the spectacular Chihuly Bridge of Glass. This unique pedestrian bridge houses over 2,000 of his glass creations and crosses over a freeway to connect the Museum with downtown Tacoma.

I took this video of the Bridge to try and capture the sheer wonder of it. Click the image below and be amazed.

 

#2: Kokomo Opalescent Glass Company (Kokomo, Indiana)

My husband and I were thrilled to have a factory tour of the oldest art glass company in America, as part of our Made in USA guided Airstream caravan last fall.

Kokomo Opalescent Glass is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of art glass. Founded in 1888, they are the oldest producer of hand cast, cathedral, and opalescent glass in the USA and are known worldwide for their high-quality, hand mixed sheet glass. One of their early customers was Louis Comfort Tiffany, and KOG estimates that 75% of the world’s churches contain it’s glass. 

In this video, I share with you their process of making hand mixed sheet glass, and a sampling of the colourful results in the KOG warehouse. Click on the image below to view.

 

#3: The Henry Ford American Glass Collection

 

If you have not visited The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Michigan, I suggest you add it to your list of 'Amazing Places to See'.

We spent two days there during our Made in USA Airstream caravan and plan to go back next year to experience more of its wonders.

The scale and excellence of this world class museum and 80-acre historic artisan village is simply astounding.

There are four working farms growing crops, raising livestock, and cooking meals using recipes from pioneer times. Skilled artisans throughout Greenfield Village are dressed in period costume and practice authentic period crafts and trades.

The Henry Ford’s American glass collection is one of the most comprehensive in the USA, numbering approximately 10,000 objects.

About 700 pieces of the collection are on display in the Davidson-Gerson Gallery of Glass, a converted 1888 machine shop in the Liberty Craftworks District of Greenfield Village.

Nearby is the Glass Shop, where visitors can see and talk to glass blowers demonstrating their craft.

The Gallery traces the history of American glass making from the 1700's through to the present. I was pleased to see a wide array of functional glass, including everyday products like Pyrex and canning jars, as well as beautiful glass art.

There were gorgeous works by important artists like Louis Comfort Tiffany and contemporary masters of the Studio Glass movement.

Shown here is Fireside Yellow and Red Persian by Dale Chihuly. It is a collection of glass pieces resting in a free-form glass vessel about a metre in diameter and a half metre tall. Imagine forming all that by hand from molten glass!

I hope you have enjoyed this colourful tour of exceptional glass destinations and that you have a chance to visit them in person if your travels take you near these locales.

Glass creations, whether made to function as part of our daily lives, or simply for the sheer beauty of their form and colour, cannot help but lift your spirits. Just like the advent of spring after a long winter! :)

If you have comments you wish to share, please do so using the 'Leave a Comment' button at the top of this post. 

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  1. SUE BEATSON April 12, 2024

    This was AMAZING! I LOVE glass! Thanks for suggestions to see even more of this fabulous art form!

  2. Vikki Macpherson March 28, 2024

    Thanks so much for sharing Karen. It’s awesome to see how glass is produced. Every time we’re heading south I say to hubbie I want to do a tour of the airstream plant. Hasn’t happened yet but next time I hope.Have you ever visited https://shelburnemuseum.org/collections/. We visited many many years ago, and the display of Americana was mind blowing.Electra Hayvermeyer Webb had a brilliant foresight to preserve artifacts. Located near Burlington Vermont. You guys are travellers and I think you would love this trip.