The Pilchuck campus is located 50 miles north of Seattle in Stanwood, Washington. The campus is a serene woodland retreat where artists can focus, create and dream without boundaries. The 54-acre site is set within a 15,000-acre tree farm in the foothills of the Cascade Range, with spectacular views of Puget Sound.
Pilchuck Glass School began as a creative experiment by artists who wanted to work with glass while living as a community in a wilderness environment. This concept attracted more artists as it allowed freedom of expression, the place, and the time to experiment with glass. Learn more about the campus history here.
The studio and shops are equipped for glassblowing, hot casting, kiln casting, coldworking, flameworking, neon, fusing, glass painting, stained glass, and printmaking and includes a wood and metal shop. Housing is warm and rustic and most accommodations require a brief walk through fields and forest to reach the studios. Everyone eats, works, and sleeps on campus for the entire session and quickly bonds to create an intimate artistic community.
With all it offers, the Pilchuck campus is an ideal setting for shared creative experiences, reflection, inspiration, and learning.
Learn more about each facility below:
Original Pilchuck Hot Shop
The hot shop was the first permanent structure built on campus. The shop was constructed from 1973-74. It is used primarily for glassblowing and solid off-hand glass sculpting.
The hot shop is an open-air structure revolving around the central pad which holds the furnace and surrounding workstations. The continuous-melt furnace contains 1,600 lbs of molten glass held at about 2,150° F. The central pad has five work stations (glory hole, bench, and marver). There is another drop down pad with two more stations for the craftspersons in residence. 11 computer-controlled annealing ovens allow finished pieces to cool at a controlled temperature over a period of time.
Pilchuck provides hot glass students with a variety of punties, pipes, and hand tools needed to work with hot glass. This includes multiple sizes of jacks, tweezers, shears, paddles, sofiettas, tungsten rods, sculpting tools, blocks, buckets, and a variety of optic and other molds.
Students in hot glass classes receive demonstration time and personal working time. Often, instructors will also bring in visiting artists for additional demonstrations. Students gain skill quickly in this immersive and experimental environment, as they are pushed to think and work in new ways.
The annex was built in 1996. Located behind the existing hot shop, this facility is a unique and versatile space equipped for hot casting, glassblowing, and investigational techniques. This shop has been the focus of an upgrade in 2015, consisting of two new furnaces ideal for experimentation.
The annex is ideal for classes focusing not only on technique, but on concept, process, performance, and time-based media. The open floor plan, rolling doors, and versatile equipment allow students the space to think and create without inhibition.
The flat shop was built in 1975 for classes in stained glass; today, the flat shop is used for neon, flameworking, and as studio space for those involved with hot shop activities, as well as sculpture and drawing classes.
Neon classes are equipped with specialized torches specific for tube bending, and have access to a variety of gases and colorants. Typically students purchase their own transformers through the school store. Plasma neon classes are also taught, encouraging use of the hot shop to make objects to be filled with plasma.
Flameworking (also known as lampworking) is also taught in the flat shop. Special gas plumbing allows for as many as twelve torches. These torches have special regulators to monitor the flow of oxygen and gas. Torches can create heat up to about 3,200° F – nearly hot enough to melt rock and far hotter than the temperature sustained in a glass furnace. Students use anything from rods and tubes of borosilicate glass and soft glass to shards of recycled bottles, that are heated, shaped, blown, and assembled. As always, experimentation and new directions are constantly encouraged and pushed to new levels.
The Cold Shop contains equipment used to work with glass in a cold state. Lathes, diamond saws, grinding wheels and polishing wheels help to cut, smooth and polish glass. Pilchuck has a diverse and extensive body of equipment and tools for coldworking, making it one of the finest cold shops in the country.
The cold shop consists of four main rooms. The back room contains grit wheels, an angle grinding station, hand-lapping stations, saws, and flat plate belt sanders. Much care is taken to ensure no contamination occurs from the grits in this room. The sandblasting room contains three sandblasters: 80 grit, 120 grit, and 220 grit respectively. The main room contains the diamond lapping wheels, lathes, belt sanders, reciprolapse machines, drill press, ban saw, dremel stations, and pumice and cerium stations.
Located in the southeast corner of the building, the engraving room contains equipment used to create delicate cuts and carving. It is place of concentration, where participants can learn to mark and manipulate the glass in its cold state.
The Print Shop is located on the lower level of the lodge, sharing a view of the Puget Sound with the Library. This studio focuses on Vitreography, a unique hand-printing process using oil-based inks and glass plates to create works on paper.
Equipped with a 30” x 50” Charles Brand etching press, silkscreen exposure unit, shared silkscreens, Rayzist exposure unit, washout station, and work tables. The studio works in conjunction with the Cold Shop and BotLab to create glass printing plates and silkscreens for powder printing the Kiln Studio and Hot Shop.
While in the print shop Artist in Residence work with the assistance of the Print Shop Coordinator to create vitreography prints on paper, many of which are now in the schools print collection. The shop also hosts classes focusing on vitreography and welcomes interdisciplinary classes for an afternoon or auxiliary project.
Artist can work to create prints by transferring imagery and marks on to the surface of the glass plate with tools not limited to etching creams, diamond abrasives, and sandblasting. Blank plates can also be used for mono-printing where ink is applied to the plate using brushes, brayers, stencils, and hands. These plates are then run through the steel bed etching press to create prints on paper. In a truly interdisciplinary shop, glass plate printmaking offers glass artist a different way to experiment with the materiality of glass while directly incorporating more traditional art practices rooted in painting, drawing, photography, and the graphic arts.
When scheduling permits, all students have access to the print shops shared ink wall and blank glass plates. Supplies such as cotton printmaking paper, transparencies, photo-resist material, and ⅜” thick float glass plates are available for purchase through the school store.
The Studio Building was erected in 1985 and an annex for kiln casting was completed in 1998. The deck and grassy area are used as space for students working in sculpture and mixed media. The large main room holds teaching areas where three classes have table space and room for instruction. Many of the tables have wooden tops that reveal light tables for flat glass work such as stained glass, painting, or design and assembly of slumped and fused works. The other tables are used for students learning hot glass, kiln casting, cold glass construction, and glass mosaics. The back wall holds a bank of eight kilns ideal for test firings and small works.
The upper building contains the mold making room, kiln room, and outdoor wax working area.
The mold room is a well-ventilated specialty room is used for work with plaster, rubber, wax and clay to create the molds for casting glass. On the south side of the building are the twelve computer-controlled kilns used for slumping, fusing, enameling, and casting glass. The outdoor area provides space, light, and equipment for wax working including a variety of tools, crock pots, steamers, and a mold dryer.
The Campus Store is located underneath the studio building and sells glassworking tools and supplies, t-shirts, books, packing materials, band-aids, burn ointment, and other sundry items. Students are provided with all the clear glass they can use but must purchase their own color.
Description coming soon
The Pilchuck library retains an excellent collection of books on glass art, including rare and out-of-print books. Pilchuck subscribes to about 20 global glass and art magazines and also has an extensive video library. Every session we videotape each instructor to record class presentations and demonstrations. A student may spend his or her class time learning and practicing from one artist and then come to the library to continue learning from hundreds more. Additionally, the library holds artist files which contain years of exhibition announcements, resumes, notes, and slides. Students also have access to the Internet for research and communication on the library computers and printers.
The maintenance building is located just beyond the hot shop. This building houses the wood and metal shops, which are available to all session participants for certain hours. The wood shop is equipped with band saws, a table saw, sanders, drill press, radial arm saw, miter box saw, joiner, and wood lathe, as well as basic hand tools. The metal shop has three welders, a metal band saw, metal drill press, plasma cutter, grinders and also an air compressor. Artists use this equipment to fabricate components for mixed-media sculpture or display elements for glass.
This building also stores the tractors, lawn mowers, and tools to maintain the campus.
The building across from the cold shop holds two studios for Pilchuck’s artists in residence. These consist of table and wall space ideal for planning, researching, drawing, and laying out works.
Each session Pilchuck invites two established and acclaimed visual artists to participate as artists in residence (AiRs). Usually these are artists whose primary work does not involve glass. AiRs live on campus and interact with the students and instructors. This program enriches the experiences of all artists on campus by promoting a cross-fertilization of ideas and concepts. Because they approach glass with a fresh eye and without preconceptions as to what is or isn’t possible with the medium, AiRs use and develop glass in new and creative ways.
The Pilchuck Campus Store boasts many amenities for students. Aside from selling Pilchuck gear and basic needs, the Campus Store is a great resource for purchasing a selection of tools and materials. Many students make their way to the store during each session to experiment with color in the hot shop, find sheet glass for kiln and other projects, and explore books published by Pilchuck instructors, as well as finding other resources.
Artists in residence, instructors, teaching assistants, artist’s assistants, craftspersons in residence, students and staff have the opportunity to display examples of their work during their time at Pilchuck.
Each session starts off with a staff show, highlighting that everyone who works on campus is also an artist. During the session different shows are proposed by theme, class, or technique. The campus community enjoys the opportunity to view and discuss these finished works in a gallery setting.
The campus office is where participants can go for any information about the Summer Program, classes, and where they can direct any questions or concerns.
Programs and operations staff can be found in the main office building, as well as the private office adjacent to the hot shop.