Blown Away

By Kate Riley May 27, 2009

Exceptionally beautiful blown glass can stop me in my tracks.  I have been a fan of it ever since observing the Venetians do it best many years ago.  I lack the funds to be a serious collector, and it makes no practical sense now since I have small children.  But collecting some amazing pieces is on my Life’s To Do list. 

I do happen to own just a few pretty things, but they are displayed out of reach of little hands:

My golden bowl:

golden bowl

My blue swirl vase:

teal swirl

My darling starfish from Hot Island Glass in Maui:


Knowing my passion for blown glass, last year Mr. CG took me to see the Dale Chihuly Exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco.  This artist absolutely takes my breath away.  For anyone who has ever entered the lobby of the Bellagio in Las Vegas, you know what I am talking about. 

I thought I’d share a few of my photos from last year’s exhibition.  They are stunning.  There are not a lot of people in the photos, so it’s hard to explain the perspective, but much of what you see is over 10 feet tall. 

colorful medley

colorful medley 2

blue glass

blue green reeds

glass reeds  green glass

clam shells

multicolor clam

glass balls

white swirl sculpture

green plants

glass reeds

yellow reeds

SF Bday Chihuly 042

yellow and orange flowers 

yellow and orange swirls

On the ceiling, like the Bellagio:

glass ceiling

ceiling medley   

Currently, the Chihuly Exhibit is in Phoenix, Arizona.  You can go here to see where he is traveling to this year.  If you’re anywhere close by, do not miss it. 

Have any of you seen this exhibit near your hometown?  Isn’t it amazing ?!


  1. We moved to Denver in late 2004. We were visting back home in San Francisco just when the Chihuly exhibit was there. I was so excited! It was incredible… even my husband, who isn’t a fan, was amazed.

    I love walking by this shop in Denver and looking in:

    They have or had some Chihuly pieces.

    By the way, do you secure your glass items to the shelves somehow? I think I read that you are in Northern Cal… prime earthquake country. Remember the one in 1989?

    It would be a shame to lose them.

  2. Diane, I use ‘museum putty’ and I love it ! It keeps everything from getting dislodged if there’s a bump by a munchkin, or heaven forbid, a quake.

    I also use ‘earthquake straps’ to secure my tall furniture to the wall, and it’s made with none other than: Velcro !

  3. Yes! I did see this exhibit…but it was littered throughout a botanical garden in Cincinnati! That made it all the more breathtaking =o)

  4. Chihuly had work here on display in our Botanical Gardens a few years back, and it was an awesome exhibit. I’ve also seen his work in Seattle. Love, love blown glass.

  5. I love them too! I was amazed by them while visiting the Murano Island in Venice a couple months ago. Simply marvelous!

  6. Ooooowww! I’m in the club: I saw some in Vegas! Vegas, baby: yeah! But YOUR photography really cranks it up for me! WOW, girl! Great stuff! That is a mighty “to do list”! Glad that I’m still on it for Sushi! Hee Hee Call me, CENTSATIONAL one!

  7. Beautiful! :) Reminds me of some art on display at the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island. :)

  8. There is a Chihuly sculpture right in the center of the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis that stands 4 stories tall. It’s spectacular! The base is full of his pieces that make a Chihuly ceiling from the lowest level. It’s really a sight to behold. They need to figure out a way to dust it, though. It would really sparkle then.

  9. Ha! As soon as I saw those pieces I immediately recognized the artist as the one who must have done this:

    It’s amazing to me that someone who isn’t familiar with his work would read about it, see other pieces, and know that it was him who did it. What an incrediblely original style!

    Sorry for the delete.. I wanted to add that this piece is at Mohegan Sun (one of our big New England casinos) in Connecticut. :)

  10. Beautiful pieces, and yes, Museum Putty is a must for any household, Earthquake country or not. (I’m in SoCal) I always loved that in the TV show “Frasier” they featured a Chihuly piece. The big bowl on the pedestal right next to his fireplace. (Keeping true to that Seattle connection…)

  11. I love those pictures! What a cool exhibit I wish it were coming close to me, it’s never in my time zone…maybe Michigan is, oh well, whatever. I also love your little star fish. :) Oh how I miss the beach, sigh.

  12. Those are great pictures! We had a Chihuly exhibit in Pittsburgh for a while last year. They installed it at Phipps Conservatory so the glass pieces were displayed among all of the greenery.

    It was stunning. They had almost no blooming flowers in the conservatory while the exhibit was there. The glass pieces were the “flowers”. It was amazing.


  13. I also saw that exhibit when it was at the Missouri Botanical Gardens. It was beautiful!

  14. Chihuly’s pieces are breathtaking! I get a little freaked out when standing underneath one, though!

  15. This is going to seem odd so long after you posted this, but what the heck! ;) When I lived in WA state, I went to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, WA. They rotate pieces through their exhibits, and they have a “hot shop”. You can watch artists blowing glass, and I think they even have classes there. The gift shop is too fun, and for absolutely free, there is a walking bridge over the highway that leads to the museum. It is called the Chihuly Bridge of glass and there is a ceiling over it much like the ones in your pictures and then about 40 different vases ensconced along the side. I had never seen such a neat and free public display of art! If you’re ever in the area, you should totally check it out! and

  16. Yep that is pretty amazing!!!

    It came to London a couple of years ago, but I am still waiting for the exhibit to come to rural France…. lol

  17. Kate – I can’t believe I have found another Chihuly fan in blogland!! I wasn’t reading any blogs yet when you originally wrote this post otherwise I would have contacted you immediately! I love his work so much I did my “thesis” for design school on him. My professor thought it was a little odd that I wanted to do something on blown glass but she was impressed that I thought outside the box. His work is breathtaking and transcends any notions of traditional artwork. Thanks for posting this!

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