Prepare to be Blown Away: The Incredible Art of Dale Chihuly

Opal and Amber Towers Chihuly glass Kew Temperate House

Dale Chihuly is an American artist known for his blown glass sculptures. In 2019 Chihuly Exhibits his work at Kew Gardens. Using principles of asymmetry rather than identical predictable shapes of glass. The making of Chihuly Blown glass has developed in technique and complexity since the early 1970s.

One of Chihuly’s well known techniques is to let gravity take its course in the making process or through the manipulation of centrifugal forces, glass artworks also can incorporate textiles or paper art into a glass shape. The Chihuly exhibit at Kew Gardens allows people to experience light, colour, and a form factor that leaves people feeling inspired and uplifted. Add your comments below if you are or where lucky enough to see the glass exhibit at Kew Gardens.

Overview of Reflections on Nature Kew

The exhibition provides an overview of the blown glass projects and sub-genres Chihuly has created over his 5-decade career. Here is a quick short list of what to look out for at the exhibition, which is explained later on. Many of us struggle to read small information tags in exhibitions. Newcomers to the artist gain from being able to see a timeline of pieces. Some whether or not familiar might not realise that well-known pieces are at the show. We heard an American tourist pleased to learn the Rotolos were at Kew; it adds to the mystique and justifies the excitement around the hype when you get to catch up and experience the legacy.

Chihuly Glass Exhibits outside in the Gardens of Kew

  1. Sapphire Star
  2. The inside exhibition
  3. Lime Crystal Tower
  4. Niijima Floats
  5. Temperate House
  6. Cattails and Copper Birch Reeds
  7. Neodymium Reeds and Turquoise Marlins
  8. Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower
  9. Red Reeds
  10. Ethereal White Persian Pond
  11. Paintbrushes
  12. Summer Sun

Images of Chihuly Blown Glass exhibit outside in the Gardens of Kew Gardens

  • Dale Chihuly Glass sphere of pointed spikes blue and white and transparent
  • Chihuly Lime Crystal Tower Kew Glass sculpture
  • Sapphire star Glass icicles in a sphere shape blue centre white clear outside
  • Niijima Floats Chihuly glass art structures Kew
  • red and tan marble effect glass sphere niijima floats chihuly
  • Fiori Verdi Chihuly glass works inside Temperate House Kew
  • Prepare to be Blown Away: The Incredible Art of Dale Chihuly 1
  • Paint brushes chihuly's red tip glass with yellow stems infront of the Palm house kew
  • Chihuly glass stems of red and yellow in front of the Palm House lake Kew "Paintbrushes"
  • Chihuly paintbrushes blown glass 2019
  • Summer Sun 2010 Chihuly Glass sculpture
  • Summer Sun 2010 Palm House Lake Kew
  • selection of chihuly niijima floats coloured glass balls kew

tell me more about Chihuly Blown Glass

Inside Chihuly Exhibit Kew Gardens, The Shirley Sherwood Gallery of Botanical Art

  1. Chihuly Exhibit features work that has developed over five decades, that has explored new techniques, pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. We list here Chihuly exhibits his work in named series and represent the names of the Blown Glass items on display at Kew Gardens during Chihuly exhibition.
  2. Baskets
  3. Seaforms
  4. Cylinders
  5. Soft cylinders
  6. Jerusalem cylinders
  7. Macchia
  8. Ikebana
  9. Venetians
  10. Persians
  11. Rotolo
  12. Drawings

Images of Chihuly Blown Glass exhibit inside the gallery and buildings of Kew Gardens

  • soft pastel cylinder chihuly
  • Chihuly Cylinders
  • white cylinder Chihuly 2011
  • Chihuly Jerusalem soft pink cylinder

Baskets 1977

Big shell shaped and bowl-shaped “Baskets”

Motivated by Washington Historical Society in Tacoma giving an exhibition about Native Americans indigenous people and culture of Northwest Coast, in particular, Indian baskets. Finding it interesting how they stack inside each other and would take on different shapes and yet keep their familiar structure and statement designs.

Chihuly skyblue basket g;ass piece
Chihuly skyblue basket g;ass piece

Kew  Chihuly Basket Exhibits

Tabac Basket Set with Midnight Lip Wraps Blown Glass 2000

Displayed seaforms at Kew

  • Pink Seaform Set with white lip wraps blown glass 1988
  • Pink striped Sea form set with Black Lip Wraps 1981
  • Pink and white Sea forms  set 1980
  • Yellow cream Seaform with a white lip wrap 1981
  • Naples yellow Seaform with Sepia Lip Wrap 1980
  • Peach Seaform with a white lip wrap 1981
  • Goldenrod striped Seaform set with sapphire and onyx lip wraps 1989

Personal connection immortal saints

One of the other interesting finds about how these Persian glass pieces came about is the personal connection to the artist.  A Father and a brother 2 people lost in time prematurely. Symbolic connections that look at existence and past archaeology of cultures and life cycle. Those geometric spirals moving in and out, side to side, a continuous flow.

Yet a Renaissance Painting by Vittore Carpaccio created in 1502-1507  of “Saint George and the Dragon” depict a hero that takes on a dragon to save the princess. But then you see these skulls lying around on the floor other victims somewhat on the dark side,  snakes and lizards, contrasting with a lit up haven of tranquillity in the background. Art like this belongs to the Vanitas genre of art started by the Dutch 17th C, it explores mortality and contrasts it to other symbols of wealth, pleasures vanity. Skulls, candles, goblets, items associated with sciences, knowledge resurrection even.

The Dragons wings by the head form a web-like fan. This shape appears in the Persian theme glass, in particular, the piece entitled “Opaline spined Seaform with cadmium yellow Persians 1986”. Not only was Chihuly’s father called George so was his Brother.   How creative and profound to immortalise these connections when designing a series.

In Summary, Chihuly Persians have had their share of thought and alchemy in their creation.

Reflections on Nature Chihuly Persians on Display inside at Kew

Chestnut and Cream Persian Set Blown Glass 1988

Cinnamon and Cream Persian with Chocolate lip Wrap 1988

Oxblood and White Persian Set with Black Lip Wraps 1988

Oxblood and Chartreuse Persian Set with Orange Lip Wraps Blown glass 1998

Iconic artist Dale Chihuly reflections on nature glass pipe plants being prepared
Iconic artist Dale Chihuly reflections on nature glass pipe plants being prepared

Venetians  1988-2006

Vase-shaped structures American Italian influences.

Chihuly wall of venetians glass art piece
Chihuly wall of venetians glass art piece

1991 Niijima Float Bay of Tokyo Island called Niijima Japan

Childhood toys like marbles, and beach combing for bits of glass, and washed up fragments of Japanese little fishing “floats” were the memories laced into this series. Glass fishing floats were spheres in a variety of colours in a string knotted net sack. Fishermen used them to keep nets and lines afloat and because they were easy to spot. The earliest ones seem to be from Norway in the 1840s. Other countries caught onto the idea.

Japanese ones from the early 20th C onwards are more abundant because of the amount of fishing carried out by that nation. Japanese call them Ukidama or buoy balls.

1989 Chihuly and a team of his visited a glass blowing school on this Japanese Island. As a result, the vision of Niijima Floats came about, the imagery of what many of these colourful nostalgic objects would all look like merged in a bubble which is also how Glass shapes begin. The colourful Niijima Floats They group the colourful Niijima Floats and spaced apart, symbolic of what all these childhood treasures would have looked like multiplied. scattered over the shores or waters.

At Kew, they are in the Japanese garden resting on the raked gravel serenity and somewhat an Easter delight.

Niijima Floats Chihuly glass art structures Kew
Niijima Floats Chihuly glass art structures Kew

Ikebana 1991- 1999

  • Kew Ikebana pieces
  • Tiger Striped Ikebana with cobalt stem and russet leaf Blown glass 1992
  • Amber ikebana with Gold stem Blown glass 1992
  • Oxblood spotted silver ikebana with scarlet leaf 1999
  • Gilded Blue ikebana with cobalt and violet stems 1999
  • Golden Ikebana with Topaz Frog Foot stem 1991
ikebana tiger striped flower chihuly
ikebana tiger striped flower chihuly

1992 Chandelier

1996 Venice first major outdoor installations  Icicle Creek Chandelier

These large structures hanging down from the ceiling include different colours, shapes, and sizes. Drawing what was absorbed from interior design studies earlier in Chihuly’s career.  Grand homes of a vintage era with bespoke statement chandeliers appeared in a variety of styles and materials. No matter what country or decade one is in, all centrpiece chandeliers have one thing in common, wow factor, glamour and that ability to pull that focal point to the centre of a room or space that reflects light.

This series gained momentum as experiments with other towers and suspensions developed. Chihuly over Venice in 1996 was a memorable part of this portfolio, 14 structures in key iconic locations. They placed the Grand beauty under a real 18th c chandelier. The idea for the armature support came from a wine rack in Chihuly’s kitchen.

The design is mocked up at base camp and any finishing touches arranged. It is then disassembled and shipped they will exhibit to whatever part of the world. At the actual location, the team and the artist will look at the item again to see how it looks in the surroundings and has made last-minute changes or adjustments. Using computers and technology can help to predict how structures will appear but it is the close attention to detail and the environment and human eye that makes the final seal of approval.

An example Venetian series abstract pattern and shapes
An example Venetian series abstract pattern and shapes

1997 Poly vitro trials

Kew Chihuly Poly vitro
Lime Crystal Tower

Using Polyvitro in some chandelier work produces lighter weight structures.

Jerusalem Cylinders 1999

Inspired by the walls of the citadel in Jerusalem, crystal looking rock pieces of glass connected to smooth cylinders.   In 2000 there was a Chihuly “In the Light of Jerusalem exhibition”, a sensational showpiece featuring a wall of Ice blocks,  illuminated with coloured neon light. Neon lighting needs glass!

2001 V&A London Chandeliers

2005 Kew gardens Exhibit

2006 Black cylinders

Considered a colour of mourning to many, commemorating a time when Chihuly’s mother passed away.

2008 Silvered series

Rotolo 2015-2018

Heavy intricate complicated to execute and even the artist admits challenging. Texts say these can weigh 43kg.

Base of the Rotolo Blown Glass sculpture with Chihuly signature
The base of the Rotolo Blown Glass sculpture with Chihuly signature
Rotolo Clear Chihuly
Rotolo Clear Chihuly


Chihuly Blown Glass Art

Some related videos on You Tube for the iconic artist Dale Chihuly reflections on nature.

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