Monday, August 25, 2008

Glass, Glass Everywhere...and Not a Drop to Drink!

No, you cannot drink from the glass at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA, but you can drink in vibrant color and inspiration with every step through the galleries and gift shop and along the Chihuly Bridge of Glass!

The Beckoning Cone
Just above our slip at the Dock Street Marina, the giant metal cone that marks the Museum of Glass beckoned us to the world's largest Hot Shop amphitheater—a unique space where you can sit, stadium-style, to watch artists at work, creating new glass pieces before your very eyes. A large screen above the work area, which houses several glory holes—furnaces roaring at over 2300˚F—provides a birdseye view of the process as glassworkers withdraw molten glass on a rod to be worked into shape before returning to the oven—again and again. One false move—and they must begin again! A commentator with mic in hand also keeps the audience apprised of what's happening. We entered the amphitheater to watch the last 30 minutes of work on a piece by the glass artist of the day and the crew in the pit. We stayed to watch as they broke it from the rod and carefully laid it to rest in one of the annealing ovens that gradually lower the temperature of the finished pieces over a period of days so that they slowly cool and avoid cracking into a million little pieces. Fascinating!

Even if glass is not your thing, I recommend a stop at this relatively new art museum (6 years old), just for the walk along the Dale Chihuly Bridge of Glass. The colorful work of Chihuly, a Tacoma native, is showcased along this bridge connecting downtown Tacoma with the waterfront where we were docked.

Two large stacks of irregular glass cubes invite you to travel further. The day was gloriously clear. Up close and personal, the glass looked like big chunks of aquamarine ice tossed and stacked on a whim.

Whether coming or going from the docks, you'll find yourself beneath a ceiling canopy of glass—multiple panels full of organic glass shapes in striking color and pattern. Look up! You don't want to miss any of it! Lots of inspiration here for works in fiber—an art quilt perhaps?

Once beyond the glass canopy, walk through another display of organic glass pieces by international artist's before arriving at the cone where I took this photo series. I love shots that are not centered or not what you might except—a different perspective. The results with the museum roof intersecting the cone created interesting juxtapositions, don't you think?

We took a tour of the three galleries in the museum with an excellent docent and were glad we chose Saturday because the current large exhibit there closed today. We were treated to a tour of "Lino Tagliapietra in Retrospect: A Modern Renaissance in Italian Glass." As I write, the exhibit is being dismantled to travel to six American locations. Watch for it, as it is a fascinating look at the transformation in one artist's work over a lifetime, an artist who is said to have changed the face of art glass in America and around the world.

The next exhibit, "Dante Marioni: Form, Color, Pattern" was also interesting, but I especially enjoyed "Contrasts: A Glass Primer," which shows through October 12, 2009. When you enter this gallery, you are confronted with a question: "I like it; I don't like it. Is there another way to view art?'' or something akin to those words. The exhibit contains work by many artists, pieces placed side by side that show contrasts: consider a large, lacy glass fly in juxtaposition to a green glass "cinder block" that took two men to lift into place—both glass but oh so different!

If you love museums, take a walk back along the bridge to the Washington State History Museum to your left, and the Tacoma Art Museum, a few blocks to the right. We left both of those for another visit. As you walk that way, savor all the shapes—the giant cone, the museum roofline, the glass stacks and the old Union Station, now the United States Courthouse to the right.

A note for boaters: The Dock Street Marina is convenient to the museums and downtown restaurants, but we found this large port far too noisy for our liking. With the Tacoma Dome and I-5 in view in one direction and a very busy railway running parallel to dockside, we won't choose to overnight there again. Hanging out and swinging on our anchor is more to our liking—private and quiet with just the sound of water lapping at the bow and a few gulls over head—that's what we both love.
Ice Cream, Chocolate, and Quilts
It's Monday as I finish this post and we are, indeed, swinging at anchor in the harbor at Poulsbo, WA, hoping for sunshine. There was a hint of it, but as we sat down to lunch in Poulsbo, the next deluge began. After lunch, we made our annual pilgrimage (twice now in almost two years of marriage) to Boehm's Chocolates for an ice cream bar, freshly dipped in chocolate and nuts. The proof is in the pictures! It's a must-stop location if you find yourself in this little Norwegian-style town, just north of Bremerton and west of Seattle. After all, chocolate is one of the main food groups, along with ice cream—right?

There's a nice quilt shop in Poulsbo, too—Heirloom Quilts and Fabrics. Unfortunately, I could only peek in the windows as the shop was closed so the staff could attend a memorial service. Lots of "eye candy" inside, though!

Depending on what the weather brings, we'll head out tomorrow for Port Townsend and then Victoria, BC, for a few days. As I post this, it's not looking particularly favorable, although we did see a complete rainbow over Poulsbo after the last squall--perhaps a good omen? Until next time,
Keep sewing and smiling!
And, remember that peace begins at home. When every home is at peace, then we will truly have peace in the whole world.

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