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Masterpieces Underfoot

Thanks to a new collaboration between glass artist Dale Chihuly and The Rug Company, it’s easier than ever to bring a Chihuly into your home.

By Rachel Gallaher

The Rosette rug, part of a collaboration between artist Dale Chihuly and The Rug Company, is based on the artist's 'Persian' series. The swirling blue rings are representative of the series’ blown glass rondels, with the irregular forms layered over one another to play with the illusion of transparency.

Artist Dale Chihuly is most widely known for his work in glass.

For the five decades the trailblazing Seattle artist has created distinctive, often-fantastical glass sculptures and installations for museums, galleries, private collections, and public spaces around the world. He is arguably one of the most important and influential glass artists alive today (in 1969 he established the Rhode Island School of Design’s glassblowing program, and in 1971 back in Washington State, founded the influential Pilchuck Glass School), and a piece by Chihuly can command tens of thousands of dollars or more.

Now, a recently released collaboration between Chihuly and The Rug Company is giving people a new, less breakable, way to add some of the artist’s work to your space. Masterpieces, a collection of five limited-edition rugs (only 250 pieces of each design will be made), features patterns that represent work from Chihuly’s iconic oeuvre. Silk motifs and accents are layered on wool backgrounds to create the illusion of transparency and the delicacy of glass.

The Harvest rug is based on Chihuly’s first series, 'Cylinders,' which was conceived in 1975 and has since expanded and evolved to include a range of Cylinders including Navajo Blanket Cylinders which feature glass thread drawings fused onto molten vessels.

“The patterns used in this collaboration were derived from my series in glass including Persians, Cylinders, and Macchia,” Chihuly says. “The Rosette and Poplar rugs showcase the organic, irregular forms that are present in most of my work. The Cylinder and Harvest rugs focus on finer details, incorporating glass thread pickup designs.”

Chihuly is the first glass artist to collaborate with The Rug Company, and the resulting rugs showcase a mutual serious devotion to artisanal techniques. Starting with Chihuly and his team of glassblowers in Seattle and finishing with the master weavers in The Rug Company’s mills in Kathmandu, Nepal, each piece is the product of many hands, but they retain the organic energy of Chihuly’s glasswork.

“The overall collection is an homage to fine craftsmanship, blending the intricate crafts of glassblowing and rug-making,” Chihuly says. “My appreciation for the talent involved in creating works with such lasting beauty began with my experience weaving textiles as an interior design student in college. I have a deep interest in Native American textiles which informed my early work in glass, and I also have a personal collection of Native American trade blankets, so taking this step into the world of rugs feels very natural.”

Pheasant takes inspiration from Chihuly’s 'Macchia' series in which pieces of colored glass are layered on the surface of the 'Macchia' during the glassblowing process. Pheasant features a shell-like motif that twists and contorts across the composition to bold effect.

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