The Refract Seattle Glass Experience thrives with innovation. There are more than 700 incredible glass artists and designers creating one-of-a-kind pieces in Washington’s Pacific Northwest.
Described as the “American Venice”, Seattle is recognized as an important center for art glass in North America.
The outstanding glass art community shares the love for their craft in a variety of ways through glassblowing demonstrations, workshops and exhibitions; in person or virtually by offering:
- 100 Seattle glass art studios in the region.
- Chihuly Gardens and Glass at Seattle Center, a celebration of the remarkable glass art sculptures of the legendary Dale Chihuly.
- The Pilchuck Glass School, co-founded by Dale Chihuly, an internationally renowned center for glass art education located in Pioneer Square.
- Western Neon custom sign builders, masters of glassbending, crafting neon tubes of light.
- Pratt Fine Arts Glass Studios with creative work space, Hot Shops and demonstrations.
- Seattle Glassblowing Studios with virtual workshops.
Refract Seattle Glass Experience
The Refract Seattle Glass Experience is held annually in October and is celebrating its fifth year.
This year, the glass festival runs October 12-15, 2023, with ticket sales starting in September.
Refract offers many extraordinary featuring starting with the opening night party, demonstrations, exhibitions, behind the scenes and live streaming events.
Download a glass art guide to Seattle and the Puget Sound.
Refract is hosted by Chihuly Garden and Glass in partnership with Visit Seattle.
Refract Seattle Glass Experience at Seattle Center Chihuly Gardens and Glass Space Needle. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Chihuly Gardens and Glass
“I want people to be overwhelmed by light and color in a way they have never experienced” – Dale Chihuly’
The incredible Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit next to the Space Needle in Seattle Centre showcases the creations of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
The museum should be on everyone’s must see list during a visit to Seattle.
The amazing experience is an explosion of light and color that will leave you in awe.
Dale Chihuly’s works are included in more than 200 museums worldwide.
The award-winning artist was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1941, and has pursued a lifelong passion of glass.
He co-founded Seattle’s international glass center of fine arts, the Pilchuck Art School in 1971 and opened Chihuly Garden and Glass in 2012.
Chihuly’s ambitious architectural sculpture exhibitions have fascinated millions of visitors throughout the world.
Inside Chihuly Gardens and Glass in Seattle,, Washington. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Ikebana and Float Boats installation at Chihuly Gardens and part of Seattle’s vibrant glass exhibits. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
The Persian Ceiling, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Seattle, Washington. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Mille Fioli, Chihuly Gardens and Glass, Seattle, Washington. Photo: Wendy Nordvik-Carr©
Pratt Fine Arts Center
Pratt Fine Arts Center offers an array of classes online and in the studio to foster the development and creativity of visual artists from beginner level to the experienced.
With more than 155 teaching artists, students can explore workshops to Master classes creating with glass, metal, stone, wood, jewelry, print, drawing, paint and mixed media.
The Hot Shop
In the Hot Shop studio of Pratt Fine Arts, glass artists can use all the equipment for kiln work, blowing and casting glass to create amazing sculptures.
Watch the fiery process involved in creating a glass sculpture below.
In the Hot Shop Studio at Pratt Fine Arts Center.
Pratt Fine Arts Center in Seattle is one of the few places you can learn how to pour bronze.
Instructor Jeanne Marie Ferraro talks to us about the process of pouring bronze.
- Wax is put into a casting mold.
- The molds are placed into a kiln.
- These are heated to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The wax is melted out.
- The molds are taken out and placed into a sand pit so all the molds can be at the same height.
- The bronze is melted in a crucible at 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit.
- The bronze weighing 300 lbs. is put into a pouring ring.
Watch the video below to see the bronze pouring demonstration.
Western Neon custom sign builders are masters of glass bending. They have been crafting neon tubes of light for signage and displays for more than 25 years.
Western Neon Seattle’s original neon gallery in the Soho district.
Western Neon glass art tubing display of colors available in Seattle.
Western Neon School of Art
Glass Artist Kelsey Fernkopf
Artist Kelsey Fernkopf is an experienced neon tube bender. He has been designing with neon for 30 years.
Fernkopf is well-known for creating complex neon art sculptures and his recent work below, explores the intersection of illuminated line, color and space.
He is a co-founder of Western Neon School of Art.
Glass artist Kelsey Fernkopf’s Red Wave, Big Blue Doodle, 2019
Glass artist William Kirtby
Glass artist William Kirtby has been in the neon industry since 1988 and is Western Neon’s lead glass bender. Kirby is an instructor at the Western Neon School of Art.
His work below, titled “Wind,” is part of a series of three pieces exploring man vs. nature.
Seattle Glass Art – Western Neon Seattle Glass Artist William Kirtley – Wind, 2019
Featured Glass Artist
Multimedia Artist Etsuko Ichikawa
Seattle based multimedia artist Etsuko Ichikawa discusses how she creates her signature glass pyrograph paintings with molten glass during a demonstration at Pratt Fine Arts in Seattle.
The working temperature with molten glass is 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit and the auto-ignition point of paper is 451 degrees Fahrenheit.
Ichikawa, originally from Japan, moved to Seattle in 1993 to attend the Pilchuck Glass School.
Etsuko Ichikawa worked as a studio assistant for Dale Chihuly for eight years.
The artist describes her creations as visual poetry reflecting the two distinct and different cultures of Japan and North America.
Read more about Etsuko Ichikawa, her recent projects and exhibitions.
Pike Place Market
Visit the historic Pike Place Market Thursday through Monday when the Craft Market is open to find one-of-a-kind glass sculptures and wearable art from some of the finest glass artists in the Pacific Northwest.
There are more than 200 artisans offering a variety of handmade items.
Glass Artist Kyle Kinsey
Talented glass artist, Kyle Kinsley, has designed art for more than 18 years. He creates impressive home design architectural pieces as well as custom jewelry work.
Kinsley specializes in fusing glass, a technique he was exposed to by his grandmother, Margaret Von Wrangel, who was a Pacific Northwest pioneer in this form of glass art.
His newest items include belt buckles and cabinet knobs.
You can often find him at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. Find out more about what Kyle has been working at his Fusion in Glass studio.
Glass artist Gina Karaba
Glass artist Gina Karaba has been selling her glass creations at the Pike Place Craft Market since 2000. See her recent work on Instagram.
Karaba walks us through a demonstration of working with soft glass, glassblowing and flame work in the video below.
Refract Seattle Glass Artists at Pike Place Market demonstrate flame worked glass art.
Refract Celebration of Glass Pike Place Market Refract Celebration of Glass Pike Place Market. Stamped glass coins annealed In the piggybank furnace.
Glass Artist Tisbury Pringle-Ennis
Tisbury Pringle-Ennis’ passion is flame work glass art. She handcrafts sculptures and wearable art from melted rods of glass heated at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Her inspiration is drawn from the sea creatures and marine life of the Pacific Northwest.
Find out more about Tisbury Art Glass.
Refract Seattle – Tisbury Art Glass Pike Place Market
Stained Glass Artist Michael Shaw, the Kaleidoscope Guy
The Kaleidoscope Guy, Michael Shaw, has been designing and creating stained glass for more than 40 years. His stained glass kaleidoscopes are cherished around the world.
After 27 years, Shaw and his wife Sharon have retired from Pike Place Market. He continues crafting heirloom kaleidoscopes. See more about his work.
Refract Seattle Pike Place Market – Melanie and E are delighted with the incredible stained glass design of Michael Shaw. the Kaleidoscope Guy.
Glass Artist David Contreras
Glass artist David Contreras, DC Glass has created glass in Seattle since 2004. See more of his work on Instagram.
Refract Seattle Glass Artists at Pike Place Market. Seattle glass artist David Contreras, DC Glass sells his art creations.
Where to stay in Seattle
An important consideration of any vacation is finding a comfortable place to rest your heads and catch up on sleep after spending the day adventuring. On last year’s escape to Seattle in October, we stayed at the Hyatt Regency Seattle and experienced their Regency Club.
We can’t rave enough about our stay in the Pacific Northwest’s largest hotel! The service, location and accommodations were all on point with modern west coast flair.
They seem to have imagined every detail to make your Seattle experience both memorable and unique. From thoughtful black and white fine art images of local attractions, vegan and cruelty-free toiletries, in-room Keurig serving Starbucks Pike Place Roast, to perfectly planned clean and modern rooms.
The location is perfectly placed in a very walkable city (especially valuable considering the somewhat challenging and expensive parking situation in the downtown core). Equal walking distance to the top attractions (namely, Pike Place and the Space Needle), within two minutes of a major shopping area and the monorail or metro (even with a toddler in tow). Lots of nearby restaurants; though you may not need to eat out because in-house dining is wonderful. The friendly and helpful valet and concierge round out the experience. .
Tip: Hyatt Regency Club Lounge is an exclusive luxurious add-on to your stay. The club lounge is open throughout the day offering a comfortable indoor/outdoor space to enjoy breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres, desserts, and honour bar. There’s even an outdoor fire pit to curl up next to on cool evenings perfect for added pampering during your perfect city escape.
Wendy Nordvik-Carr was a guest of Visit Seattle, which did not review or approve this story.
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