Dale Chihuly | Persians and Seaforms

PERSIANS: Chihuly Persians, begun in 1986, are exotic forms with spiraling “body wraps” and herringbone effects decorating their surfaces. The series includes both “table-top” compositions, often with smaller parts in them, and large Persians mounted on walls and ceilings.

When exhibited for the first time in Chihuly’s 1986 solo exhibition at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs of the Palais du Louvre in Paris, the Persians were described in the exhibition catalogue as “new possibilities from the blowpipe”. Persias are often marked by saturated colour and highly unusual forms.

“The Persians started out as a search for new forms. I set up Martin Blank and Robbie Miller in a corner of the hotshop at Pilchuck (Chihuly founded Pilchuck Glass School in 1971). I would make large pencil drawings for them with a couple of dozen small forms, and then I would put an X under the ones I wanted them to go for. Over the next year, we made more than 1,000 miniature experimental forms.” Dale Chihuly

SEAFORMS: The Basket series metamorphosed into Seaforms in 1980. More delicate, thin-walled, and made up of subtler blues, pinks, and grays than the Baskets, the Seaforms conjure up underwater life, but do not imitate it. The use of optic molds in the glassblowing process creates ribs that increase the strength of the thin-walled glass, and thin lines of color, known as “body wraps,” emphasize their undulating form. ‘Like the Baskets, they are often grouped together into sets.

“With Baskets or Seaforms, my concern was with the form and developing ways to work with fire, gravity and centrifugal force – to stretch and blow the glass to its edge. With the Seaforms came the use of ribbed optical molds which added strength, allowing us to blow even thinner. By about 1981, the key word for the team was “spontaneity” and it seemed like we had pushed the glassblowing process to its limits.” —    Chihuly


Related Items

  • An Ancient Legacy, essay by Tina Oldknow on Dale Chihuly’s Persian series and the traditions they are inspired by.
  • Chihuly and the Sea, essay by Syliva Earl