Pilchuck Glass School was founded in 1971 by Dale Chihuly, Anne Gould Hauberg, and John H. Hauberg. Through the years, Pilchuck has been a primary force in the evolution of glass as a means of artistic expression and has become the largest, most comprehensive educational center in the world for artists working with glass.
Pilchuck’s philosophy of education flows from Dale Chihuly’s original idea of “artists teaching artists.” It stems from the belief that people everywhere thrive on creativity and can learn to cultivate their artistic talents, at any stage of life and at any point in their development as artists. In keeping with that belief, Pilchuck provides a learning experience unrivaled in its intensity, quality of instruction, and concentration of artistic talent.
That founding summer Chihuly was accompanied by two other teachers and sixteen students. When the students arrived, their first project was to build glory holes and a furnace. They began blowing glass just sixteen days after arriving. The artists also designed and built their own houses — the first year these were mostly plastic tarps draped over planks; the second year more substantial houses were built.
By nature, glassblowing requires teamwork but the generous spirit the school embraced was special. Collaborative glassmaking became known as “the Pilchuck way,” explains current Pilchuck executive director Jim Baker, who adds that also integral to Pilchuck’s success was an early commitment to freedom of expression. “Pilchuck immediately threw people into experimental mode.”
The school quickly became recognized as one of the top programs in the world for glass artists. Through trial and error, artists invented new forms and glassworking methods, and as this continued, the studio glass movement evolved.
In the late 70s Pilchuck began to invite renowned makers from different glass centers around the world to teach their (formerly) proprietary methods of glassmaking. This led to a new wave of students and artists learning and openly sharing a wide range of techniques.
In the 80s, Pilchuck began to invite influential contemporary artists renowned in other media to learn how to use glass in their work.
The fundamental mission at Pilchuck has been to act as a learning, experimentation and research facility and to serve as an advocate for glass as a medium.
Pilchuck’s artistic and educational programs take place primarily on a serene sixty-acre wooded campus fifty miles north of Seattle. Pilchuck now offers 35 intensive residential sessions from April to September. Students work in hot and cold glass techniques including glassblowing, casting, fusing, neon, stained glass, painted glass, flameworking, mixed media sculpture, and engraving.
In addition to the Stanwood campus, Pilchuck also has an exhibition and administrative office space in Pioneer Square; the commercial and artistic core of downtown Seattle.