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Archive for March, 2016

USA: Seattle #10 Aquarium (Part a)

The Seattle Aquarium is on the waterfront directly below the Pike Markets. It was opened in 1977 but has been expended since then. We found it to be a fascinating place to visit.

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There six major exhibit areas with the aquarium: Window on Washington Waters, Life on the Edge, Pacific Coral Reef, Underwater Dome, Birds & Shores and Marine Mammals.

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Just inside the entrance is a large, 120,000 gallon fish tank filled with more than 800 fish and invertebrates local to the north west of Washington State coastal waters. Three times a day, a diver enters the tank to interact with both the fish and the visitors. The reactions of the children was great to watch… a whole new experience for many of them.

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Further inside are exhibits of a wide variety of creatures that live below the tide line. I took photos of some of the individual species to share with you all. It wasn’t easy because the water is continually washing over the exhibits just as it is in the real underwater world.

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We had seen several of the Lion’s Mane Jelly (Cyanea capillata) one morning on our journey through the Inside Passage of Alaska.  It’s a native of God’s Pocket, British Columbia, CAN. It propels itself using special muscles called coronal muscles, embedded on the underside of the bell. These push water out of the hollow bell. As water is pushed in one direction, the jellyfish moves in the counter direction.

The Lion’s Mane does not have a brain or eyes so it relies on nerve cells to sense and react to food or danger.  Sensing organs tell them whether they are heading up or down, into the light or away from it.  Even with such a basic structure, they are amazing hunters!

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The scientific name for this Basket Star is Gorgonocephalus eucnemis which comes from Greek mythology because its arms twist and coil looking like writhing serpents. The Greek gorgós means “dreadful” and cephalus means “head”.

Five pairs of arms branch from the central disc (or head) and divide into smaller and smaller subdivisions. These arms, or branches, are covered in tiny hooks and spines which are used to help it to feed as it extends its arms like a net. Any small crustaceans that come within reach are snared, immobilised and tied in what appears to be a knot of branches. The branches then twist to take the food to the mouth on the underside of the central disc. The disc has what looks like a comb which is used to remove the food and clean the branches ready for more food collection. Fascinating.

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Rock pools allowed visitors to see tentacles up close.

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Sea anemones, like these, usually stay in the one place.  They anchor themselves to surfaces or sand with a sticky foot called a pedal disc. Water flows over them bringing food to them. Any passing small fish or crustacean which touches those anemone tentacles is likely to be shot by the anemone with a nematocyst, a harpoon-like spear. It contains a paralysing neurotoxin which immobilises the prey.  The anemone then uses its tentacles to guide the food into their mouths.

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If the environment becomes unlivable, anemones can slowly slide along the ocean floor on their foot or float away and “swim” to a new anchoring spot by flexing their bodies.

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A beautiful close up.

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There are several types of starfish on display at the Seattle Aquarium. Some types have been causing growing concern since 2013 when they were found to be suffering a disease now called Starfish wasting disease, a condition that gives the impression that the starfish is ‘melting’. Seattle researchers are taking part in a joint effort to understand why a growing number of starfish are being affected, not only around Seattle, but along the coast of British Columbia, Washington State and California. The cause is still not fully known.

However, researchers believe now that the disease is associated with certain bacteria and a virus like one that affects cats and dogs… a virus in the same family as the Parvovirus.

It appears that this virus causes the sea star’s reproductive system to swell and that the condition is aggravated by environmental factors like water temperature, acidification or toxins. A recent blog from the Aquarium researchers about the sea stars states that the sea stars have “gone from being one of the most common species in the Puget Sound to 2-3 years later, being incredibly hard to find.”

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According to that same 2016 report, “the loss of the sea stars has already started to change the ecosystem, since sea stars are major predators. Their food source, sea urchins, are growing in both number and size. Now, experts are talking about whether sea stars should be listed as endangered.”

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There’s a wonderful, never ending variety of species in the underwater world.

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One of the exhibits is a glass case devoted to Dale Chihuly’s sea form shells.

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Just beautiful.

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Another area is devoted to hands on activities for small children. I watched this little girl for quite some time as she invented and reinvented her own underwater world in felt.

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There’s also an intriguing wall of tiles representing the creatures of the deep.

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I loved these childlike representations of the real creatures in the watery exhibitions.

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Brain coral featured in the tropical underwater exhibition.

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A lot goes on behind the exhibits at the aquarium.  For example, we, like all other visitors, enjoyed several excellent exhibits of various corals and colourful tropical fish. But none of these corals are taken from the wild. They are propagated and ‘grown’ in tanks until they are large enough to go on display. Excess corals are shared with other aquariums to reduce the need for any exhibitor to harvest corals from the wild.

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How’s this for a wonderful colour combination?

After spending some time enjoying this main exhibition hall, it was time to go outside to a very different exhibition area, partly under a dome and partly open to the skies.

More of that anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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After quite a long day out, and an evening visit to the Space Needle to come, we decided to stay around the area for an evening meal. We checked out a few fast food places but were not impressed with what we saw on offer… or they were closing up for the day.

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Wandering back near the glass exhibition we noticed another building that houses the Chihuly Collections Cafe. We ventured inside and we were so glad we did.

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The restaurant was an excellent choice for good fresh food and also for something quite different from blown glass…. Chihuly’s other addiction, collecting things! As David is an avid collector of stuff, it didn’t take much persuasion to get him to have a meal here.

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As soon as you walk into the long, narrow room, you can’t help looking up into the high-ceiling adorned with accordions… just one of Chihuly’s collections.

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One wall cabinet is filled with transistor radios… quite nostalgic.

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Thirty six of Chihuly’s colourful drawings are back lit on another wall… looks like he’s a big kid at heart and I guess he is.

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A window box is filled with coffee jugs.

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And that’s not all. The centre of every table is fitted with a glass topped box, each one containing a selection from Chihuly’s personal collections of nostalgic Americana.

(Photo from the brochure we were given.)

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  We shared our table with citrus juicers.

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But we might just have easily been given a table that sported dollhouse furniture, inkwells, shaving brushes, metal toy dogs, christmas ornaments or little masks like these.

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Even the cutlery was a bit out of the ordinary… nice to handle, though.

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Much of the lighting in the restaurant came from flickering candles diffused behind textured glass… probably those modern electric candles, but the effect was good.

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And after dining on our delicious meals, created with local, fresh ingredients, and thinking that we had seen it all, we discovered that we hadn’t!

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The walls of the entrance hallways to the toilets are covered with many hundreds of bottle openers. Interestingly, these were ‘caged in’, probably against any light fingered person who just might decide to start their own collection!

Quite some restaurant! So, if you ever get to Seattle, we can recommend both the glass exhibition and the restaurant. We hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to the Chihuly Glass Exhibition and Gardens… and the Collections Cafe.

Next post we’ll visit another fascinating place in Seattle… the Aquarium.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

 

 

 

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Having learned about some of the things that have inspired Chihuly’s creations, and something about how the pieces are made, we spent the next hour or so just wandering in a delightful garden made up of a mixture of natural plants and glass sculptures.

I think at this point, I’ll let you do as we did; quietly wander in the garden and enjoy..

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The walk through the garden ends at a large, glass function centre.

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And the ceiling of that function centre is adorned with more of Chihuly’s glass flowers. What a wonderful place to have a wedding… or indeed, a celebration of any kind.

Having come to the end of the Chihuly exhibition, you might well think our day enjoying the works of Dale Chihuly was over…. but not so. It was time to have dinner in the Chihuly Collection Restaurant… for there is more that interests Dale Chihuly than just glass.

But more of that anon.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

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Chihuly has become famous in many parts of the world for his chandeliers and large glass towers constructed of hundreds of twisting, hand blown glass forms. Some of the smaller chandeliers, which can fit inside a room, are on display at the Seattle exhibition.

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I’ll add a video link at the end that will demonstrate how these chandeliers, made up of hundreds of individually hand blown pieces, are put together.

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Many of the chandeliers start life as an idea that Chihuly paints onto paper.

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Some, like these two, were part of the design for a large series of installations that Chihuly and his team made to hang over the canals of Venice in 1996. It’s said it was a wonderful spectacle as the light changed during the day. And, of course, light bounced off the waters of the canals adding to the show. It would have been amazing to be in Venice at that time.

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The team have made many large installations to hang in cities across the world.

One of his largest pieces was a 42 ft high sculpture called “Lime Green Icicle Tower” which was part of a 2011 show at ‘Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts’. Incredibly, that sculpture (pictured) was made of 2,342 individual pieces of glass. It proved to be so popular with the people that, through a crowd funding scheme, the city of Boston bought the sculpture and it’s still there today!

(Photo from the Boston Museum of Fine Arts ‘ web site. I’ve given a link to a video of this exhibition in Boston…called ‘Through the Looking Glass.)

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Many of Chihuly’s paintings have become collectors items in themselves.

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I love the freedom of his drawings… and yet there is definite design.

I can only imagine how a glass sculpture made using this design would look like…

glowing with light instead of dense with thick paint.

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Perhaps my favourite Chihuly creations in the exhibition were a set of large bowls set on black mirror pedestals.  I’d never seen these before. How does he make them?

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Chihuly had observed that the colours of stain glass windows are more vivid and glow more brilliantly on a cloudy day rather than on a bright sunny day.  This was his inspiration for creating these ‘bowls’… he calls them ‘flower’ shapes. Each one has an inner layer of white opaque glass between two coloured layers… his ‘cloud’ effect.  He then chooses some of the three hundred colours of glass available to him to produce a spotty, splotchy effect which he calls ‘Macchia’, Italian for ‘spot’ .  But how?

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To achieve this stunning effect, molten glass of the inner colour is first rolled in small shards of white glass and re heated. That gives two layers. The third layer of coloured glass shards are added in the next reheating, rolling, blowing, bending, folding process before the ‘lip wraps’ are added in a different colour. The light through these pieces is magical.

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These pieces are a superb example of  Chihuly’s constant experimentation, innovation and ingenuity. I’ll add a comment I read in an article on Chihuly in the US ‘Academy of Achievement’ (link added below… with more information about his life and art works)).

“The history of glass sculpture is unimaginable without the work of Dale Chihuly. When he began his career, Studio Glass was a little known movement within the academic art world. When he first exhibited his work, some critics questioned whether his work was fine art at all, relegating it to the less prestigious domain of handicraft. Today, no one can deny the international impact of his work, and his stature as the world’s most influential artist in glass.” I couldn’t agree more. His work is definitely art and always developing.

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Of course at every museum and exhibition, you cannot exit without going through the shop! And so it was here. I was very tempted to buy these bowls from the ‘Persian Series’. Just too bad that the price was so prohibitive! A photo had to suffice. And I have all of our photos to look back on and relive a very special experience.

As you might imagine, I’ve been a fan of Chihuly’s work for many years. My love for glass work goes back to when I first landed on Europe’s shores in 1968; I became a devotee of stain glass in churches and other buildings in every city and village I explored. Back then, before the hordes of tourists took over the European cities, I could take my time and learn. In Murano’s glass works in Venice I was able to spend time on my own… no tour group… just absorbing the way the glass was formed. In later years, when living in Melbourne, I spent some time learning the basics of glass craft from one of Australia’s best.  So to be able to spend time, quietly, unhurried, in an exhibition like this was a dream come true. Now, I hope I’ve been able to share some of that experience through the photos.

Next time we’ll wander in Chihuly’s delightful glass and flower garden.

“Academy of Achievement” Chihuly Biography link:

http://www.achievement.org/autodoc/page/chi0bio-1

Chihuly: ‘Through the Looking Glass’ (Boston Exhibition) You tube link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNVo3Vp5VOQ

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Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

 

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To walk into the stunning  ‘Persian Room’, is definitely a true WOW experience!

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The ceiling is an extravagant flood of brilliant colour and flower forms inspired by Middle East glass works from the 12th to 14th Century.

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The colours flow down the walls into an entirely empty room… empty except for a bench set at the back that allows you to sit and look up and be enthralled by the ceiling.

This room prepares you,some what but not entirely, for the riot of brilliant colour and form that fills the next room.

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In this room, a large black mirrored ‘lake’ is filled with a kaleidoscope of multi coloured sculptures referred to by Chihuly as his nature inspired ‘Mille Fiori’ works; sinuos herons, tall reeds, grasses,  leaves and coloured balls. It’s exciting, breathtaking – an explosion’ of colour and light, form and texture. It’s a joyous showcase of various glass art forms and techniques  developed across the decades. I’ll leave you to enjoy!

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Fortunately, there were benches along the wall in this room. So much to take in!

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In the next room is another black mirror lake; this time adorned with Chihuly’s boats filled with coloured balls and baubles that have become famous all over the world.

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The twisting, curling forms recur in later works which we’ll look at next time.

In the meantime, I can recommend these videos demonstrating the way the flower forms, used on the ceiling of the ‘Persian Room’, and the ‘Mille Fiori’ forms, used on the lake scenes, are made.

Persian Room :            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1cOI51JC5o

Mille Fiori:                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a72cwvId-IA

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

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After a morning up in the Space Needle, we only had to walk a few yards to our next destination… for right next door to the Space Needle is a permanent exhibition of the beautiful glass creations that have been designed, blown and crafted by perhaps one of the most famous ‘sons of Seattle’, Dale Chihuly, and his skilled team.

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This exhibition was the top of my ‘to do ‘list in Seattle. I’d seen some of Chihuly’s work in Australia, several years ago, at Canberra’s Floriade spring flower festival. The masses of tulips were beautiful, as were the rest of the spring blooms, but Chihuly’s glass was the stand out feature. And his exhibition at the art gallery was also a hit with everyone. Now, here in Seattle, I had the chance to see a wide variety of his work and learn much more about what has influenced and inspired his creative spirit. Photos can never give the full experience of seeing this glass work up close and personal, but I’ll try to pass on some of the magic. If you can, I’d recommend that you look at these images on a lap top or larger screen to get the full effect of the glow of the glass.

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The entry foyer is simply stunning; tall, elegant tubes of glass on a black mirror floor.

You half expect them to start to move and begin to waltz.

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A close up of some of the pieces glowing against the black base.

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In the first main room of the exhibition are some stunning freeform vases and bowls that incorporate a basket weave style of decoration.

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A close up of the blue vase.

Chihuly had studied weaving in his interior design course at college and had tried out ways of incorporating bits of glass into his tapestries. His weaving instructor saw his ideas and encouraged him to further experiment with melting and shaping glass.

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A close up of the orange basket weave vase… one of the many complex pieces inspired by the weaving of the native peoples, especially the Navaho and Pendelton blankets.

I’ll add a link below for a you tube presentation by Chihuly to show how these is made.

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Chihuly began to acquire Indian woven blankets many years ago. His love for the strong colour combinations used in these blankets influenced his own sense of colour. Chihuly began his Blanket Cylinders series in 1975, and later moved on to blowing the more free form bowls and vases seen in this room.

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Native weavers and basket makers are honoured on one wall.

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Some of Chihuly’s glass pieces are displayed together with native basket weaving.

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A close up of one of the vases.

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Chihuly’s constant experimenting with his team finally gave him the skills to fuse coloured glass shards and thread into his free form vessels. They are stunning!

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Often a group of delicate bowls is set up together.

It’s now time to move on to the next room… displaying the very different ‘Seaforms’ series, begun in the early 80’s. I’ll give a link below for a video that demonstrates the inspiration for, and craft of, making these pieces.

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The room devoted to Chihuly’s “Seaform Series” is dominated by a very large glass ‘tower’ that develops from deep blues to paler blues, soft greens and touches of sunlit yellows, browns and sandy golds. Embedded in this ‘wave’ structure are various golden creatures of the sea, blown in rippled glass, which swim effortlessly through the waters. 

Chihuly lives by the water in Seattle and his love for the sea shines through these pieces. In 1979, unfortunately, it was his love for the sea that changed his career for the second time… the first was a car accident that took the sight of one eye. This time, a body surfing accident ended Chihuly’s ability to hold the long glass blowing pipe. Years earlier, while visiting the glassblowers of Murano in Italy, he’d seen the benefits of team work in glass blowing. Now, team work became a vital part of his own art practice. He employed a team of skilled glass blowers to form the individual pieces for him whilst he concentrated on designing complex creations like this sculptural ‘Seaform’ piece. 

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I spent a lot of time really looking at each of these exquisite forms.

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Also in the “Seaform”room are some very unusual individual sea creature sculptures. I was fascinated by how each piece was formed and the variety of glass skills involved.

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The time spent looking carefully at each of these sculptures was very rewarding.

We’ll move onto the next room in this amazing exhibition next time.

In the meantime here are a couple of ‘you tube’ links for those who are interested.

They explain, so much better than I ever could, just how these glass forms are made.

The woven cylinders and bowls series:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SFna7yKsh-s

The ‘Seaform’ series

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAS3biAvX3I

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

 

 

 

 

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USA: Seattle #4 The Space Needle

The day began clear and hot, again! It would get even hotter as the day wore on. So we decided to take the monorail to the Space Needle instead of walking.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

The Space Needle is an unmissable part of the Seattle skyline. In 1961, the builders of the Space Needle were given a little over a year to complete the needle as the central feature of Seattle’s 1962 World Fair. Finished in 400 days, it was dubbed, “The 400 Day Wonder.”

Now here’s some statistics for those who like that sort of thing, as David does. When pouring the foundations of the Needle, it took 467 cement trucks less than 12 hours to fill the foundation hole (30 feet deep and 120 feet across). Those foundations weigh 5,850 tons of which 250 tons is reinforcing steel. The whole Needle structure weighs 3,700 tons and it is fastened to its foundation with 72 bolts, each 30 feet in length. It should not move!

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

It was a pleasure to take the monorail and see the city streets from above.

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P1130119 © DY  of  jtdytravels

It’s not easy to describe the needle! It’s huge, breathtaking, beautifully designed, elegant and a whole lot more. And there’s plenty of time to think about it as you stand at its base in the queue, moving slowly, a couple of feet at a time, waiting for your turn to take the elevator to the observation deck. But it’s worth the wait!

If allowed, we could have walked up the 848 steps from the bottom of the basement to the top of the Observation Deck. But it was hot!  We wondered how the elevator would go on a windy day… fortunately it wasn’t windy that day. We learned, while we read the blurb and waited, that the Needle sways approximately 1 inch for every 10 mph of wind. It was built to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour. The tower would be closed long before that. In fact, if the wind gets to 35mph, the elevators automatically reduce their speed to 5 mph for safety reasons. And how fast do those elevators travel? 10mph or 800 feet per minute and takes 43 seconds to get to the top. Not being a lover of fast elevators, I was somewhat calmed to learn that although one cable is strong enough to hold the entire weight of the elevator and the 25 people inside, each elevator has seven cables. And if all seven cables brake? An automatic brake would lock. OK. Head of the queue. Ready to go.

 

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A map gives a broad idea of what we would see from the observation tower; Puget Sound to the west; lakes and suburbs to the north; mountains to the east and the city CBD to the south. The deck was crowded with people when we arrived, so it was a case of find a spot at the edge, when you could get one, and stay there. I began looking to the north west.

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P1130103 © DY of jtdytravels

A wide angle view of Puget Sound stretching north west from Elliott Bay and the CBD.

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Puget Sound is a large inlet from the Pacific Ocean. North of the line is Canada.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

Closer view to the north west with Canadian mountains in the background.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

A crowded marina gives some idea of the love for sailing in the Seattle area.

Big cruise ships often dock at these wharves. None in town that day.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

Tanker being loaded from silos… not sure what product.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

520 feet below the north side of the Observation Deck is a playground area. We were almost at the top… 85 feet above us, on top of the Needle, is an aircraft warning beacon. Also up on top are 25 lightning rods (24 actual rods, plus the tower). 

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

The orange maze in the playground attracted quite a few walkers.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

Looking directly north is Lake Union. We’ll explore this lake later by ship.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

Lake Union is another boating paradise. Ferries and tour boats berth here and sea planes and helicopters leave from here to fly passengers out to the islands and up to Victoria on Vancouver Island, Canada.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

We went over this Lake Union Bridge on our way to Everett and the Boeing Assembly Plant. It crosses a narrow part of the canal entrance to the much larger Lake Washington.

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P1130111  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Looking south south-east we could just make out Mount Rainier in the distance, 54 miles (87 km) from Seattle. It’s the highest mountain in the State of Washington..It’s summit is 14,417 ft (4,394 m) and its covered year round in glacial ice.  I was surprised to learn that Mt Rainier is considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous volcanoes although it’s last eruption was in 1894. Perhaps it’s due for an eruption!

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

Looking south over the CBD we could see the monorail leading back towards our hotel.

Yet another high rise building was going up in the foreground.

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P1130394 © JT of jtdytravels

A view south over the CBD and across Elliot Bay to the shipping docks.

Our 360 view of the city was complete. More and more people were crowding the deck, and, anyway, we had other things to do and see. So we left the Needle with some reluctance… but it was made easier knowing that we had return tickets for the evening.

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P1150206  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

We returned at 7.45pm when the Needle glowed golden in the late afternoon light.

This was a very different experience. The ambience had changed.

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P1150209  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Many others had the same idea… to watch the sun set from the Needle.

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P1130364  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The sky turned from bright orange to pale gold and the city seemed to stop.

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P1130373  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The last of the light caught the top of Mt Rainier.

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P1130385  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The moon rose over the city in a soft pink sky.

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P1150228  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

The colours of the sky began to darken. Everything seemed still.

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P1150255  ©  JT  of  jtdytravels

Lights came on in high rise buildings. Cars turned their headlights on.

 

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P1130405  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

The city might have slowed down, but the dockyards never sleep.

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P1130412  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

Lights lit up the buildings below the Needle as the light faded even more.

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P1130413  ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

And, finally, it was time to go after an experience we can recommend to all.

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P1130414 ©  DY  of  jtdytravels

By the time we’d waited for an elevator to take us back to ground level, the sky was pitch black. The Needle rose above us like a space ship as we, and hundreds of other visitors, left it to its task of warning aircraft in the area. Thankfully, after a full day out, the monorail was still running to take us back to our hotel and our beds.

Next time, we’ll show you what we did during the rest of the day, in between our visits to the Needle… a magic visit to Dale Chihuly’s Glass Exhibit and Gardens.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

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