Washington State is known for its thriving community of glass artists. Hundreds of artists use techniques from glassblowing to flameworking and fusing to create pieces as unique as the artists who craft them. Explore the state’s glass art scene with visits to museums, galleries, and studios, some of which offer live glassblowing demonstrations where you can see pieces take shape before your eyes. You can even take a hands-on workshop where you can unleash your creativity under professional guidance.
Whether you’re visiting a local gallery or making glass art yourself, there are so many ways to explore Washington’s glass art community.
Glass Art in Washington
Washington State—especially the Puget Sound region around Seattle—rose to prominence in the glass art scene following the founding of Pilchuck Glass School and the Pratt Fine Art Center in the 1970s. World-renowned glass artist and Tacoma local Dale Chihuly co-founded Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood as a way to bring artists together. Since then, the campus has grown into an international glass center with 60 buildings, over a dozen art studios, public art, and gathering spaces.
The state has helped shape some of the country’s most well-known glass artists, from Joey Kirkpatrick and Flora Mace to Preston Singletary (Tlingit). Singletary, who grew up in Seattle, draws inspiration from his Tlingit heritage and European glass-blowing techniques to create glass art pieces with traditional designs and modern materials. His work can be found at Traver Gallery and Stonington Gallery.
Other Indigenous artists are leaving their mark on the glass art community as well. Daniel Joseph Friday (Lummi Nation) creates contemporary glass art with Indigenous themes, while Raven Skyriver (Tlingit) is known for his glass creations inspired by marine life.
Today, Washington is home to more than 700 glass artists and 100-plus glass art studios.
Where to see Glass Art in Washington
Museums and exhibitions are a great place to see a number of glass art pieces and forms in one place, and learn about the history and artists behind them.
Museum of Glass, Tacoma
The Museum of Glass is a great place to see artwork from local and traveling artists or learn more about the history of glass art in Washington. On the way into the museum, you’ll be welcomed by Gathering the Light by Cappy Thompson, which depicts an elaborate landscape from a mythical world of glassmakers. Explore the museum’s permanent exhibits on 20th and 21st century glass before venturing into the hot shop for a live glassblowing demonstration.
Those interested in a hands-on experience can book a session on the hot shop floor and learn the art of fusing, slumping, and mosaic making in one of the group workshops. Outside the museum, you’ll find Fluent Steps, three islands of glass spanning the length of a 210-foot reflecting pool. There’s also the 500-foot Bridge of Glass created by Dale Chihuly, which is open to pedestrian traffic 24/7. Walk across the bridge and marvel at the glass displays, including the ceiling of the Seaform Pavilion, which includes 2,000 glass shapes arranged like a vivid coral reef.
Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle
Sitting in the shadow of the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass is a colorful wonderland. The eight interior galleries showcase Chihuly’s signature works, which draw inspiration from everything from his mom’s gardens to bodies of water. In the outdoor garden and glasshouse, you’ll get to see how light and glass interact. Wander through the garden, which incorporates glass pieces of various sizes and colors surrounded by trees, ferns, and vines that come alive with each season.
Glassblowing Classes and Experiences
If you want to learn how to make glass art yourself, check out some of these hot shops and immerse yourself in Washington’s glass art community.
This annual Washington glass art festival is held in Seattle in October. Refract showcases local glass artists through glassblowing demonstrations, shuttle tours of local glass shops and galleries, musical performances, and more. In 2023, Refract had more than 80 events and almost 60 participating artists in the Seattle area.
Seattle Glassblowing Studio, Seattle
Founded by Cliff Goodman, Seattle Glassblowing Studio is a public access studio where visitors are welcome to visit the hot shop or check out their retail gallery to shop for artwork, jewelry, and home decor from over 80 Pacific Northwest artists like Nao Yamamoto and Tegan Hamilton. You can even browse for pieces that were made at the studio. They also have live glassblowing on select days of the Belltown Art Walk. For a hands-on experience, make an appointment to join a beginner-friendly glassblowing experience.
Art by Fire, Issaquah
Art by Fire has a gallery and hot shop that stays open late for events like wine and art walks. If you’re visiting from Wednesday to Sunday, you can watch live glassblowing from the center hall. Join in on the fun with the glassblowing and glass sculpture classes offered on the weekends.
Schack Art Center, Everett
Whether you’re an artist or art enthusiast, the Schack Art Center focuses on contemporary art that celebrates diverse voices. You can visit the art shop, hot shop, and store year-round, and the center also offers a variety of classes, from glassblowing to fused glass art. Check out their rotating exhibits too, which feature everything from art by teens to Northwest designers and crafters who work professionals in mixed media.
Tacoma Glassblowing Studio, Tacoma
Tacoma Glassblowing Studio is a gallery and hot shop where you can watch glassblowing, purchase glass art, or participate in one of the studio’s hand-ons experiences. Tacoma Glassblowing is an excellent choice for beginners. Make an appointment (Fridays-Sundays) for a one-on-one experience with a skilled glassblower. From picking and applying colors to blowing and shaping the glass, you’ll create your own unique piece of art. The studio also offers a Speciality Glassblowing Experience on specific days, where you can create a glass bee, cactus, or snowman with the help of two skilled glassblowers.
Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood
Pilchuck Glass School is an international center for the glass art community. They also offer tours in the spring from May 1 to 4, which is a chance to tour the private campus, learn more about the history of glass making, and watch glass artists at work. Check out their glass art guide to learn more about the history of glass art in Washington.
Puget Sound Glass Art Galleries
The greater Seattle area is home to dozens of Washington’s glass art galleries. Here are just a few you can visit.
Vetri Gallery, Seattle
Vetri Gallery celebrates the work of studio glass artists in addition to other materials like wood, plaster, and metal. Items available vary in form and function from decorative nautical pieces from Jennifer Caldwell to glasses by Levi Belber and baskets by Preston Singletary.
Traver Gallery, Seattle
Traver Gallery has been a host of visual arts for over 40 years, and they also host group exhibitions for emerging, mid-career-, and established artists who use materials in unique and innovative ways through studio glass, painting, sculpture, and more.
Edge of Glass, Seattle
Located in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, Edge of Glass features works by local Pacific Northwest artists. Visitors can watch artists in action or browse the many styles of glasswork, including blown glass, slumped glass, sandblasted etched glass, and more.
Wandering Oaks Gallery, Bellingham
Located in downtown Bellingham, Wandering Oaks Gallery is a dog-friendly working studio that has it all. See fused glass and paintings come to life, check out pieces from local artists, or take fused glass classes on Saturdays where you can learn to make things like ornaments, pocket vases, and figurines.
Avalon Glassworks, Seattle
This West Seattle gallery specializes in contemporary styles of blown glass and blown glass floats, which are inspired by Japanese fishing floats. Many pieces draw inspiration from the Pacific Northwest landscape. In addition to floats, you can find a wide selection of decorative vases, bowls, ornaments, and more.
About the Author
Aleenah Ansari is a Seattle-based writer covering travel, entrepreneurship, mental health and wellness, and representation in media for Insider, The Seattle Times, Byrdie, and more. You can usually find her searching for murals in Seattle and beyond, reading a book by a BIPOC author, and planning her next trip to New York. Learn more at aleenahansari.com.