Seattle is filled to the brim with all kinds of arts, from small galleries to major art installations, but it has become a hub for glassblowing due in large part to artist Dale Chihuly’s presence in the city. Wander the city, and you’ll spot glass art in galleries, in public places, and in some pretty spectacular installations, like Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center.
Visiting glass studios can get you up close and personal to everything from crafty glass to high-end art glass. Buying right from the source can be a great way to learn more about the artists. And if all that glass sparks something more than artistic appreciation in you, you can even try your hand at it at any number of studios in and around Seattle by taking glassblowing classes.
Seattle Glassblowing Studio is one of the city’s most prominent glass studios and it offers everything you might want. Looking for a hand-blown glass gift? The gallery of artwork here is all created by artists in the on-site hot shop. The studio also creates custom artwork and even does custom sinks and lighting fixtures.
But Seattle Glassblowing Studio is perhaps best known for its glassblowing classes. Classes include short experiences for both adults and children older than 5, private lessons, weekend workshops, group lessons, and six-week sessions if you want to delve into the process a bit more. All lessons let you take home your very own creation (after a day or two as glass needs time to cool down after its blown).
Avalon Glassworks is located in West Seattle, and it’s a cool place to buy glass as well as watch the process. While some people may want to jump on in and try glassblowing for themselves, others might not think it looks so appealing. If glassblowing isn’t something you want to try, but you still want to learn more about it, Avalon Glassworks is perfect as you can watch the artists in action. Check ahead of time to see when the artists in the hotshop will be in action, or stop by the adjacent gallery to shop or admire.
Glasshouse Studio is located in Pioneer Square and is a great stop on First Thursday art walks. The studio offers a few experiences. It’s a gallery that features both the artwork of its resident artists who create pieces in the adjacent hot shop, as well as pieces from more than 40 other glass artists. You can shop for glass art in the gallery, or watch the glassblowing process live. Glasshouse Studio has live demonstration times throughout the week, or if you’re visiting with a large group, you can book a tour just for your group.
Blowing Sands Glass Blowing in Ballard is owned by glass artist David Smith, who teaches classes to individuals and small groups. Classes teach students all about the tools and process to create glass pieces, and all leave with their creation by the end of the next business day. The studio is attached to the Laura Frost Fine Arts Gallery, which displays the works of several Washington artists who work not only in glass, but also in ceramics and acrylics.
Moltenworks Glass Studio is just outside of Seattle, 30 minutes away in Woodinville with lots of wineries nearby. The studio offers classes throughout the week, including Sip n’ Fuse classes where attendees can try creating some fused glass, which is a bit different than blown glass and perhaps a little more approachable for those who don’t want to hang out in front of a roaring hot furnace. You can also book private classes, which allow you to bring along your own food, wine, or beer.
Headed up by glass artist Ryan Blythe, Rainier Glass Studio offers classes for everyone from beginners to advanced glass artists looking to refine their skills. Classes of special note include the two-hour private studio date, where you and your significant other can spend an evening making a few pieces with the studio all to yourselves (well…with an instructing artist there). You can also sign up to take the Blow-Your-Own Bong class. Class takers for that one must be 21 or older. Other classes include an array of beginner and intensive classes for students both young and old.
For sheer variety of classes and access to arts facilities, Pratt Fine Arts Center is second to none in Seattle. While many studios have a beginner class or two on tap, Pratt Fine Arts Center has classes in glass beadmaking, coldworking, flameworking, glassblowing, kiln glass, and glass casting (as well as all kinds of other art forms). After you’ve got some experience under your belt, you can even rent hotshop, cold shop, flameworking or fusing studio time here too.