Nestled in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains on what used to be a tree farm, world-renowned artists and instructors teach glass art at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. Pilchuck was co-founded by Dale Chihuly nearly 40 years ago and has become the world’s most comprehensive glass art education center, offering intensive residential instruction in the summer to more than 500 students and workshops year-round for emerging and professional artists. Pilchuck’s campus is reminiscent of a camp, with dorms and cabins for students and instructors and educational facilities nestled among the trees.
Pilchuck has been a longtime grant recipient of the Murdock Trust, partnering on projects together for more than 30 years. The Future is Now project was the most recently funded initiative, with a goal to create new learning methods and approaches to glassmaking for its students. Over the years, glassmaking has transformed to include the use of digital design, and equipment has evolved along with the development of new artistic methods. Through the project, Pilchuck implemented cutting-edge equipment in the latest digital design and fabrication tools to better educate students in the newest trends in contemporary art. The new design equipment allows artists to design their pieces before working directly with glass by using 3D design, 3D scanning and 3D printing.
Not only does the new equipment give students the opportunity to learn the latest in glassmaking, it also dramatically improves Pilchuck’s operations. Glass is an expensive medium to work with, from the cost of the materials to the use of energy for molding and shaping the glass. Pilchuck worked alongside local manufacturers to create a new and improved gas furnace, which will provide energy savings of up to 50 percent.
The Murdock Trust is proud to partner with Pilchuck to provide cutting-edge equipment and education for the next generation of glass artists.