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Seattle was having its hottest start to July ever (2015) so we took to the water as a somewhat cooler alternative to walking the hot streets.

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As the ferry left the terminal we looked back on an area that is being reconstruction to connect the city back with the waterfront… for too long divided by a fast and busy highway and much of the water’s edge was not available to the people of the city.  After much consultation with the community, the dream is to make a vibrant waterfront for all to enjoy. The highway will remain but the waterfront area will be much more people friendly with boardwalks, parks and amenities. And the ferries that leave from here join that area to the small islands and also link the harbour via a canal to large lakes within the city.

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Seattle has a large, very busy working port area that is vital to the economic health of not only Seattle but to the whole of Washington state. I read that four in ten jobs in the state are tied to international trade, driving job growth and economic prosperity.

As ever-larger container vessels ply the seas, the port has seen dramatic changes to accommodate such vessels. The port has needed to install not only heavier cranes with a longer outreach but also provide deeper drafts.  An ongoing task.

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A view back to the city and the space needle.

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Several restaurants now use the older pier areas. This one is the iconic ‘Waterfront Seafood Grill Pier 70’ which has received recognition many times as one of Seattle’s top dining destinations.  As you would imagine, the menu incorporates the wonderful bounty of fresh seafood of the area, as well as the fresh harvest from the farms in the surrounding countryside.  During summer, guests can enjoy waterfront dining on that long deck.

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I’d seen these silos from the space needle and wondered what they contained. The answer is grain. It’s a completely automated facility moving grain efficiently from trucks and rail cars to silos and then to ship’s hold.

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A massive rock wall surrounds a marina filled with some very expensive yachts.

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Just before the ferry turned from the main harbour area into the canal, we passed West Point Lighthouse, sitting, as it has done for many a long year, at the end of a low, half-mile-long, sandy point that extends into Puget Sound. The lighthouse still sends out alternating red and white flashes, even though from a modern beacon within the tower.

Light houses are usually built on rock. But, to support this lighthouse built on sand, a grill of timber was first built three feet below the ground before adding the brick foundations. The brick tower and and an octagonal iron lantern room were then built on top. They must have done something right, it still stands today, albeit with a surround of added rocks to keep both the lighthouse and the sand spit safe from lashing storms.

 

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Along the canal, many houses are built on timber piles. Safe from storms, this would be my choice of place to live in Seattle… if I could afford one of them…. but probably not!

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Other places are built on the shore line rather than over the water.

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Salmon Bay Bridge, (or Bridge no 4) is on the northern rail line between King Street Station in Seattle and Everett (where the Boeing factory is situated). It’s called a single-leaf bascule bridge, built in 1914, and has two rail tracks. It has a span of 61 mts (or 200 ft).

So what is a bascule bridge?  In simple terms its a draw bridge that uses a massive counter weight to continuously balance a bridge span, or leaf, as it swings upwards to allow clearance for boat traffic. As we were to see later, largish ships use this canal.

The concept has been used since ancient times. But it wasn’t  until the introduction of steam power in the 1850s that long, heavy spans could be moved quickly enough to make their use practical for more modern day usage.  I guess this is electrical these days.

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I liked this house near the bridge… solid foundations rather than timber poles that have a habit of rotting over time…and lots of balcony to sit out and watch the bridge in use!

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More houses along the canal. It was very pleasant sailing passed these canal side homes as we made our way to the locks that lift the ships from the ocean level to the lake level.

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

After exploring the exhibits in the indoor area of Seattle aquarium, it was time to venture outdoors to visit the harbour seals and the cute sea otters.

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The harbour seals are one of the main attractions around the harbours of towns and villages along this coast. They are seen by researchers as barometers of the health of Seattle’s waterways because of their diet… sole, flounder, sculpin, cod, herring, octopus and squid. These are all links in a food chain that is becoming increasingly vulnerable to pollution, development and other human activities.

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When in the water they are streamlined, but out of the water they flip flop along in a rather ungainly fashion.  While their hind flippers are used to propel them  through the water, these aren’t used on land. When they “haul out” on sandbars, beaches or onto rocks, they have to use their front flippers and an undulating movement to get along, giving them a common nick  name of “crawling seals”.

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Harbour seals have a thick layer of blubber which not only provides them with insulation in these cold waters of Puget Sound, but also adds buoyancy for swimming.

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Harbour seals  can remain underwater for close to 30 minutes while hunting for food. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait that long between dives as their keeper gave them fish to eat. But it was impossible to guess when they would come up to the surface. Most of the time, their nostrils remain closed. Once they resurface, they must consciously open their nostrils to resume breathing.

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Some cute sea otters live in the next pool. We asked how these otters came to be in the aquarium when there are plenty of surrounding waterways. The answers were interesting.

One was discovered on an airport runway in Alaska suffering from hypothermia.  One was just a few weeks old when her mother was accidentally killed by a boat in Kodiak, Alaska. She was cared for ’round the clock’ by staff and volunteers for several months before joining our other otters. She is now the mother to three pups, all born at the Seattle Aquarium. One of those now has a pup of her own. And another one was rescued after being caught in a fishing net as a young pup. They all seemed very content.

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Sea otters have very thick fur to keep them warm. We were told that there are abou 500,000 hairs on every square inch of a sea otter’s fur. That apparently, equals the number of hairs on 3 or 4 normal human heads… normal meaning not including those heads that are thinning or bald! Sea otters don’t go bald. They die of cold if they did.

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These two were having a rest after a stint of grooming;  rolling and twirling in the water; rubbing and raking their fur with their forepaws and licking the fur with their coarse tongues. They need to keep their thick fur very clean because it insulates their bodies by trapping tiny air bubbles and keeping a layer of air between the water and their skin. Dirty fur loses its insulating qualities allowing cold water to penetrate through to the skin.

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Reluctantly leaving the seals and the otters, we wandered through the connecting dome section of the aquarium to see some of the shore birds of this area.  One was the Long-billed Curlew, the largest shorebird in North America. It uses that long, curved bill to probe for prey such as  shrimp and crabs in mudflats.

Although the adult birds have long bills, their newborn chicks don’t. They are therefore unable to probe for food in the mud. So their parents take them to grasslands where they can find insects to eat. After two or three weeks, the female usually leaves the care of the brood to the male. She’s done her stint sitting on the eggs in the brooding process.

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Another local shore bird is the Black Oystercatcher… although that is a misleading name. Its favourite food is mussels rather than oysters! It searches at low tide in the places where mussels and limpets adhere to the rocks. It uses its strong bill to pop limpets and chitons off the rocks and separate the fleshy foot from the shell.

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One of the beauties of seeing birds up close is to check out the way feathers are distributed over the bird. This bird, a Killdeer, Charadrius vociferus, had just finished grooming.

These birds are sometimes called ‘chattering plovers’. Their scientific species name, vociferous, is Latin for noisy and they are… in fact, we were told that Killdeer chicks start making noise even before they have hatched. That doesn’t help in keeping the chicks safe from predators as they hatch in their simple nest, a scrape on sandy gravel ground. But the adult birds have a way of helping to keep the chicks safe. They often fake a broken wing, twisting one wing up onto their backs. Then they make themselves look vulnerable by dragging themselves away from the nest. It works sometimes!

Unlike many other shorebirds, Killdeers have short necks. But they have long beaks for digging in wet or muddy areas to forage. They feed primarily on invertebrates such as earthworms, snails, crayfish, grasshoppers, beetles and aquatic insect larvae.

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After a long morning enjoying the aquarium, we had lunch on deck overlooking the boardwalk. And most enjoyable it was, too.

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The boardwalk is new… a very pedestrian friendly precinct by the water’s edge.

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It was very hot… and an ice cream was in order while we wandered along the boardwalk.

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Flower baskets added to the summery scene.

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We joined a queue at the local cruise terminal… it would be cooler out on the water.

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Finally the ferry came into dock and we prepared to explore some more of Seattle.

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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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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P1150186 © JT of jtdytravels

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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P1140894 © JY of jtdytravels

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

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P1150196 © JT of Jtdytravels

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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P1140973 © JT of jtdytravels

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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P1140973 © JT of jtdytravels

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

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more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

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More of our travel photos are on

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