This October 12-15, the nation’s premier glass art festival celebrates its 5th anniversary. Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience takes place in and around Seattle, and you aren’t going to want to miss this!
The Pacific Northwest has long been known as one of the top centers in the world for glass art. More than 700 glass artists, from emerging artists to master glassmakers, live in Washington state, and more than 100 glass art studios have made their home in the greater Seattle region. Refract allows you to explore this fascinating art, meet artists, tour studios, see special demonstrations, mingle at art parties, and more. Bonus: many of the events are free.
10 reasons why you don’t want to miss this event:
1. Opening night party at Chihuly Garden and Glass
Chihuly Garden and Glass, the exhibition of one of the world’s best known living glass artists, is one of Seattle’s top visitor attractions. On Thursday night (October 12), you can immerse yourself in the museum’s stunning displays while attending the opening party for Refract, Gather. This event allows you to meet and mingle with the region’s artists, tour the installations, enjoy great food and drinks, and talk with helpful staff to plan your Refract festival activities. Author’s note: Get your tickets soon; this event is popular!
Photo: Chihuly Garden and Glass
2. Closing Party at Pratt
Pratt Fine Arts Center is a beloved Seattle institution where numerous glass artists got their start. They offer classes for all levels in varied forms of glassmaking and other art forms. They are hosting the Refract closing party on Sunday (October 15), with open studios, artist demonstrations, food trucks, and more.
Photo: Pratt Fine Arts Center
3. Artist Open Studios
Saturday (October 14) and Sunday (October 15), put on your comfortable walking shoes and hit the neighborhoods because 16 Seattle artists are opening up their studios to welcome you. These are all extraordinary artists—and this is your chance to meet them in person, see their studios, and learn more about how they create their vision in glass. Find the full Refract Open Studios list here.
Visiting without a car? New this year, a free shuttle service will take you on a loop of all the studios. Learn how to reserve your spot here.
Misoda Glass Open Studio. Photo by Megan Swann.
4. Pilchuck Auction
If you’re already a glass aficionado, there’s a good chance you know about Pilchuck. The legendary school in the woods north of Seattle is one of the leading global centers for education in all forms of studio glass: glassblowing, kiln glass, fused glass, flameworking, neon, and more. Their annual gala and auction (October 14) is a hot ticket for supporters of the school and glass art collectors, and this is your chance to attend one of the premier auction events of the year.
Photo: Pilchuck Glass School
5. See it Live & Up Close
Watching live glassmaking is mesmerizing, and you’ll have many chances to see the magic in progress at hot shop venues like Seattle Glassblowing Studio, Museum of Glass, Blowing Sands, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Glasshouse-Studio, Avalon Glass Works, Schack Art Center, City of Shoreline and glassybaby. Author’s note: Find these by selecting the “Demos, Talks & Lectures” category on the Refract Programs page.
Photo: Museum of Glass
6. Outstanding Museum & Gallery Exhibitions
We’re fortunate to have major museums and galleries with a dedicated focus on glass art. Explore the work of globally-known glass artist Jay Macdonell during his residency at the Museum of Glass. Nearby at Tacoma Art Museum (TAM), the Benaroya Wing showcases TAM’s expansive glass collection, one of the top five public collections of studio glass nationwide. Leading glass art gallery Traver Gallery presents an exhibition of Ginny Ruffner‘s work, Bainbridge Arts & Crafts Gallery presents Kait Rhoads, and Gallery Mack explores the work of Chuck Lopez. Group exhibits include Luminosity at Stonington Gallery, focusing on Indigenous artists in glass, and a special glass show at Northwest Designer Craftartists. Author’s note: Find more by selecting the “Exhibitions” category on the Refract Programs page.
Photo: Traver Gallery
7. Special Tours & Access
If you’ve flown through SEA Airport, you may have noted that it has an extensive art collection, including impressive works in glass. Or maybe you were running to the gate and missed it. Here’s your chance to tour the works with a curator, without toting your carry-on around! Or maybe you’ve always dreamed of seeing the extraordinary Chihuly Boathouse (not open to the public), or of taking a guided walking tour on glass architecture, or raising a glass at the maestro Lino Tagliapietra’s showroom. Yes, these all happen as part of Refract! Author’s note: Find more and reserve your space by selecting the “Tours” category on the Refract Programs page.
Lino Tagliapietra showroom. Photo: Ian Lewis.
8. Get Hands-On
Are you happiest when learning something yourself? Refract offers something for you, too! Check out the classes and workshops to blow your own glass or make a fused glass piece. Author’s note: Find more by selecting the “Hands-On” category on the Refract Programs page.
Photo: Seattle Glassblowing Studio
9. Find Unique Glass Art to Take Home – From Affordable to Splurgeworthy
The options are almost endless, from dozens of artisans at Pike Place Market to the numerous galleries, shops, and studios. Our Glass Art Guide is a helpful resource.
Avalon Glass Gallery. Photo: Ian Lewis.
10. It’s Seattle!
We couldn’t be more proud that all this activity is taking place in and around Seattle, with regional events stretching from Tacoma to Everett to Bainbridge Island and Issaquah. We love our city and can’t wait to show it off to you. You’ll find hotel packages and travel information on the Refract website, and lots more inspiration at visitseattle.org.
Photo: Sun Chan
If you need more inspiration, take a peek at last year’s Refract, and the State of Glass series on VISITSEATTLE.tv.
See you at Refract!