The Pilchuck Glass School is but 2.7 miles up the road to the NE. Started in 1971 by artists Ruth Tamura and Dale Chihuly and patrons: John H. Hauberg and Anne Gould, the School has become legend in the art world.
The School’s stated mission has always been to, “Produce producers of glass, not product.” Artists William Morris, Dante Marioni, Flora Mace, Joey Kirkpatrick, Benjamin Moore, Ginny Ruffner, Veruska Vagen, Richard Royal and Dale Chihuly are among the alumni artists with whom the School never competes. There had been one exception to this rule before 2015: centerpieces produced once a year for the Annual Gala Auction where the School raises 50% of its revenue. Auction tables hold an individual centerpiece that in most years is signed, “Pilchuck Glass School, Auction XX, 20xx.” Guests at each table, politely bid against each other to take home the vessel*, often containing flowers. This tradition was started when at the end of the 1987 auction, William Morris took notice of the table flower vases that had been purchased to adorn each of the tables and challenged, “We are a glass school, we can do better than this.” The next year, the centerpiece shown, acquired from the Safeco collection, was 1 of 75 handcrafted by the then young William Morris and Dante. (Centerpieces were discontinued in 2015; the collection is a series 1988 – 2014.)
Displayed in Bonhoeffer Hall is 1 of our 2 complete collections existent of table centerpieces going back to 1988. A second collection (with some replicas) can be found in the 16 kiosks within Bonhoeffer Botanical Gardens. Poster boards describe how the centerpiece vessels were used as teaching tools, evidenced by the distinct themes found in the early editions.
*Not all years’ designs were vessels. In 2013 the design was a cluster of colored crystals. The reaction of the older event goers (meth analogy) was to not bid. The Gardens purchased 60 non-sold sets, now found beneath the large trees directly across from the Church. (We have renamed them “Silica.”)