The process of blowing and sculpturing glass tends to be very exhilarating. It is definitely a team art since it requires more than one person to create a more than average size piece. There are many tools and precise timing involved in creating a successful artwork. Glass comes in a raw material form and requires an enormous amount of heat, around 2400°F (~1315 °C), to transform it into a liquid substance. Following this the glass has to be given the opportunity to settle, temperatures are lowered and then the hot glass takes on a bright red and orange color. The glass that is used to create objects is sitting in a furnace at temperatures ranging from 1600 and 1900 °F (~870 to ~1040 °C).
Dale Chihuly, born September 20, 1941 in Tacoma Washington, is a veteran in the glass art world. He received a bachelor of design from the University of Washington, in Seattle. His process is very unique. To be a glass artist requires the strength to hold the tools needed to create your piece. Since injuring himself in 1979 in a body surfing accident where he dislocated his shoulder, he has been unable to hold the pipe required to glass blow. So he hires a crew to do all of the physical work necessary to complete his vision for his pieces.
‘Once I stepped back, I liked the view.’
He points out that it allowed him to see the work from more perspectives and enabled him to anticipate problems faster. Chihuly describes his role as ‘more choreographer than dancer, more supervisor than participant, more director than actor.’(Chihuly 2006).
Dale Chihuly has been very successful in the ‘art business’, turning what he loves doing into a substantial profit. His works are pieces that can be sold in art houses and put on display in museums, but also are very site specific. Take for example the ceiling of the Bellagio Hotel, an installation specially commissioned by Steve Wynn where Chihuly and his crew hand blew over 2,000 glass flowers differing in size, shape, and color. The flowers are delicately placed very closely to one another. The installation provides the illusion the flowers are actually growing from the ceiling and will eventually grow down long enough to meet people.
Chihuly has not only been a part of the glass blowing world but also facilitated in making it what it is today. Chihuly ‘and his teams have created a wide vocabulary of blown forms, revisiting and refining earlier shapes while at the same time creating exciting new elements’ (Taragin). The style and method he adopts in creating his work and the work itself has been the focus of many debates. Still, today he is working and creating not only beautiful glass pieces but also paintings, his first art love. Dale Chihuly is a pioneer in the glass art world and fortunately he is here to stay.
Hackett, R. Chihuly Victimized by His Own Success? Fromhttp://www.seattlepi.com/visualart/266953_dalechihuly17.html
Taragin, D. S. Biography. from http://www.chihuly.com/intro.html