Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tacoma Museum of Glass

On a recent Sunday, Mr. ChaCha and I took a drive to Tacoma, Washington, to visit the Museum of Glass. It was a stellar experience. If you are a glass lover, you owe it to yourself to see this museum if you are visiting the Pacific Northwest.

The museum has several exhibits, a theatre for viewing videos about glass art, a cafe, a working hot shop, and a great gift shop.

A main exhibit when we visited was a collection of work by Preston Singletary, who has taken the symbols, elements, and narratives of his Tlingit ancestry and re-imaged them in glass. It is native American tradition newly manifest in modern glass art form. The collection is totally enthralling and leaves a lasting impression on you.

In the theatre we watched several videos including a documentary in which Preston Singletary and others who have worked with him were interviewed. Seeing the video really informed our viewing experience of the exhibit of his work.

After viewing the videos and the exhibits, you'll definitely want to spend some time in the hot shop.

If you are going to eat, do it first because once you're in the hot shop you won't want to leave. You could easily spend a few hours in there watching the action as a team of glass blowers work together to create items from the design mind of the current visiting glass artist.

Visitors sit in a balcony area that is not far removed from the action. A narrator explains what the team is doing, and the visiting artist may speak about his or her work.

It is very warm in the hot shop, as you can well imagine.

The piece being created gets removed from and reinserted into the furnace many many times. While it is out of the furnace, a glass blower applies a hand-held torch to areas that do not get as hot as the rest of the item--like this end of the piece that is always the first part out of the furnace and the last part back in. On some trips out of the furnace, the item is shaped with various tools.

When the piece is the perfect shape and is ready to be cooled, you'll see one of the team members put on the protective asbestos gloves and helmet. The item is cut from the glass blowing rod and is put into an annealing oven for its cool down period.

Check it out--when it's in operation you can watch live streaming web video of the hot shop activites.

For our cool-down after a spell in the hot shop, we went to see the Bridge of Glass. This is the bridge approach:

Having heard that the bridge is so amazing, I was a little disappointed at how stark it looked. Sure, there were these cool glass trees, but was that it?

Stop by the blog again to see the next post because there will be great pictures from the bridge.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow, isn't that just amazing! Working with glass is one medium that I find fascinating but have never worked with. Actually I avoid any medium that uses fire as I am pretty clumsy and wouldn't want to burn my house down.

Lovely to look and watch others create with it though!