Did you know that Seattle is the hub of studio glass art? Many people think of Venice when they think of glass art—however, Seattle’s hidden secret is that it is the U.S. epicenter for all things glass art. I was fortunate enough to head to Seattle for Refract: The Seattle Glass Experience, a four day festival exploring the beauty, innovation, and artistry of glass blowing.
The festival kicked off at Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is the probably the most well-known museum showcasing the studio glass of Dale Chihuly. It is absolutely stunning, where bold, large-scale glass art takes center stage.
What is especially unique about this museum is how it beautifully melds the indoors with the outdoors. You begin in the indoor museum, exploring sculptural pieces, like a traditional art museum. Then, you can wander outdoors to the garden, where glass sculptures are seamlessly woven throughout. The art is done so well, that it looks almost like nature itself.
View of the Space Needle from the Glasshouse at Chihuly Garden and Glass Nanette Wong
All weekend, there were various experiences where one can explore the world of glass. We were fortunate to be able to take a tour of Western Neon School of Art for Altered States, an exhibition showcasing eight Pacific Northwest artists working with light, space, and interactive technologies. Western Neon is both a school and also a sign studio. There, they handcraft custom signs to suit all businesses’ needs. I didn’t know what to expect, but seeing them craft their illuminated artwork was eye-opening (pun intended).
The Western Neon School of Art focuses on artwork made with neon. What I love about neon is that it really transcends time—not only does it harken back to the retro signs of the 50s, but now it is being used in partnership with technology to create jaw-dropping exhibits.
Lumenoki by Yale Wolf and Ron Smith, on exhibit at Western Neon for Refract Nanette Wong
Western Neon School of Art offers workshops as well, so I highly encourage anyone who is interested to sign up! They sell out quickly, so make sure to follow them or subscribe to their email list to be notified first when they open new workshops.
And of course, no trip to Seattle is complete without exploring all that the city has to offer in terms of eating and drinking.
We were lucky enough to stay at The Charter Hotel Seattle, a boutique hotel perfectly located in the heart of downtown Seattle. I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels around the world, and Charter Hotel remains the top in terms of friendly service and jaw dropping views.
The rooms are spacious and filled with light, with stunning marble bathrooms.
Another amazing part of The Charter Hotel is its epic rooftop bar, Fog Room Sky Lounge & Terrace, which offers jaw-dropping 360 views of downtown Seattle! We enjoyed a cocktail on their patio, staying warm by the fire while watching the sun set. Doesn’t get much better than that.
Seattle is also the epicenter for all things coffee, so I HAD to try a couple of coffeeshops while in town. The one that stood out the most is the recently opened Hello Em, a Vietnamese coffee shop in Little Saigon. A must-try is their torched egg creme coffee, unlike any other coffee I’ve had!
Some other must-try restaurants include Biang Biang Noodles and Taurus Ox.
If you are looking for a truly unique weekend escape, Refract is a must-attend! It happens every October in Seattle. Make sure to sign up for email notifications to hear about upcoming events and festivals.