Over the years Chihuly and his collaborators created a number of “Series”, Chihuly providing the ideas and the supervising of the glass blowing. Due to two accidents he lost an eye and the use of one arm. Notwithstanding, he is the indefatigable spirit, the souce of ideas - not one piece among thousands looks like any other - the protean master.
“I had seen some beautiful Indian baskets at the Washington State Historical Society, and I was struck by the grace of their slumped, sagging forms. I wanted to capture this in glass. The breakthrough for me was recognizing that heat and gravity were the tools to be used to make these forms.
I remember when I started the Baskets in the summer of 1977. Jamie Carpenter and Italo Scanga and I were scheduled to have a three man show at the Seattle Art Museum at the end of the summer, curated by Charlie Cowles, who later became my dealer in New York. Everyone assumed that I would show the Blanket Cylinders, which had become my first popular series (first series popular with the public). Of course I got very interested in the Baskets and soon forgot about the Cylinders, and when it came to install the exhibition my primary interest was to show off the Baskets in the best light possible.
I had a 24-foot steel table made out
of diamond plate steel and I let it rust outside. I had blown about
100 Baskets during the past couple of months and I decided to show
them all—all 100 down this rusty 24-foot table in the middle of
the gallery. I thought it looked very good, but as usual there were
no reviews that I can remember. Although I distinctly remember the
reviews from Jamie and Italo—they didn't like the Baskets at
the time. But later they were very supportive. I think when an artist
is in the middle of making something new they don't really care what
someone thinks, even their best friends. The Baskets was the first
series that I did that really took advantage of the molten properties
of the glassblowing process. Now, for the first time, I really felt I
was breaking new ground with an ancient technique.”
“The Seaforms seemed to come
about by accident, as much of my work does—by chance. We were
experimenting with some ribbed molds when I was doing the Basket
series. By blowing the pieces into ribbed molds, it gave them more
strength. It's sort of like corrugated cardboard—or actually,
like sea shells themselves, which are very often ribbed. Then the
Baskets started looking like sea forms, so I changed the name of the
series to Seaforms, which suited me just fine in that I love to walk
along the beach and go to the ocean. And glass itself, of course, is
so much like water. If you let it go on its own, it almost ends up
looking like something that came from the sea.”
PAYNE'S GRAY MACCHIA
WITH DEEP BLUE LIP WRAP, 1983
13 x 15 x 15"
REGAL PURPLE MACCHIA WITH
BRIGHT ORANGE LIP WRAP, 1995
22 x 24 x 25"
COBALT BLUE MACCHIA
WITH RED LIP WRAP, 1990
18 x 35 x 36"
“The Persians started out as a
search for new forms. I set up Martin Blank and Robbie Miller in a
corner of the hotshop at Pilchuck. I would make large pencil drawings
for them with a couple of dozen small forms, and then I would put an
X under the ones I wanted them to go for. Over the next year, we made
more than 1,000 miniature experimental forms.”
COBALT PERSIAN PAIR
WITH RED LIP WRAPS, 1997
14 x 33 x 25"
REED GREEN PERSIAN
SET WITH SCARLET LIP WRAP, 2000
11 x 24 x 17"