In 2018, the Asheville area will celebrate the long history of glassblowing in western North Carolina. The "Summer of Glass" runs May-October with many special events. Watch artists at work, tour galleries and see the monumental "Chihuly at Biltmore" exhibition. (Pic above: Lexington Glassworks)
Dale Chihuly, Laguna Torcello, 2012, 12 1/2 x 64 x 20', ©Chihuly Studio
Chihuly at Biltmore: This must-see exhibition (May 17-October 7) features Dale Chihuly's famous spectacular glass creations inside Biltmore House and throughout the gardens. Illuminated evening tours too! Read more.
Lexington Glassworks (81 South Lexington): Our top place to watch glassblowers at work is Downtown Asheville. Owners and glassblowers Billy and Geoff love to demonstration the entire process. They even have a special viewing area with benches and a bar with local beers on tap! The gallery is open every day with glassblowering each day except on Tuesdays. Admission is free. Their gallery is full of their gorgeous creations in all price ranges. They are open late on many weekends with live music the first Friday of each month, April-December. Read more about them.
Bender Gallery (12 South Lexington): Just up the street from Lexington Glassworks is the region's only contemporary fine art gallery specializing in museum quality glass sculpture by U.S. and international artists. See work by some of today's leading glass artists including the world renowned Maestro Lino Tagliapietra, Davide Salvadore with sons Marco and Mattia, Hiroshi Yamano, and husband and wife team Philip Baldwin and Monica Guggisberg. You will be inspired by their creativity and skill. Read more about them.
Blue Spiral 1 (38 Biltmore Avenue) is the largest fine art gallery in downtown Asheville. See exceptional creations by 100+ artists on three floors.
North Carolina Glass Center (140 Roberts Street, Asheville): Located just a couple of miles from downtown and Biltmore is the River Arts District, home to this non-profit glass teaching center. Stop by to watch demonstrations and sign up for a class. Book a 30-minute hands-on glass experience ($50-$75/person) to work one-on-one with an instructor to create their your own piece of glass. What a souvenir! Many area glassblowers use their studio, and you'll find their work in the gallery open 7 days a week (no demos on Tuesday).
Summer of Glass Event Sampler
- Kick-off celebration is Friday, June 1st in conjunction with the Downtown First Friday gallery stroll. In addition to Lexington Glassworks and Bender Gallery, walk over to Blue Spiral 1 and Asheville Art Museum.
- A Launch party will be held June 2nd at New Belgium Brewery.
- Demonstrations of glass blowing, glass jewelry making, stained glass, enameling and working with glass beads throughout the western North Carolina area.
- History of Glass in WNC exhibition in the River Arts District (14 Riverside Drive).
- VIP weekend events once a month in June, July, August and September that includes guided studio tours, hands-on opportunities, tickets to Chihuly at Biltmore and Glass Collector home visits.
Outside of Asheville: WNC Top Glass Stops
Jackson County Green Energy Park (50 miles southwest of Asheville): This fascinating arts complex in Dillsboro that is powered by methane gas captured from the old town landfill. The fuel provides heat for blacksmith forges, metal foundry, pottery kiln and glassblowing. Watch demonstrations most days and check out their gallery. Also, artsy downtown Dillsboro is nearby with many galleries!
Penland School of Crafts (50 miles northeast of Asheville) a famous center for craft education tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains with one to eight week workshops in a big variety of mediums, including glass. Their gallery of student work is very impressive, and you can explore the historic campus. Classrooms and most studios are closed to the public. Located near Spruce Pine.