October 27, 2016

Dale Chihuly Sent Thousands of Drawings by Fax Machine

Chihuly Glasshouse. Photography courtesy of Chihuly Workshop.

After a series of injuries in the 1970s left glass pioneer Dale Chihuly unable to operate a glass blowing torch, he stepped back and assumed a supervisory role in carrying out his concepts. He began sketching and faxing ideas to his studio staff, averaging several thousand transmissions each year. With a pen and paper, Chihuly conceptualized an array of award-winning glass sculptures that can be found in more than 200 museum collections worldwide. Chihuly: Faxes (Chihuly Workshop) examines his unconventional method of transmitting ideas from concept to creation: by fax.

Chihuly Glasshouse fax. Image courtesy of Chihuly Workshop.

In the age of faster methods of communicating, faxing has fallen out of the limelight. “I really liked the ability to transmit messages and my ideas via the fax machine,” says Chihuly. “Unfortunately most people don’t have them anymore, and surprisingly some from the younger generation don’t even know what a fax machine is!” Now Chihuly, still fond of the medium, sends an occasional fax, but mostly scans and emails his sketches.

Chihuly Over Venice. Photography courtesy of Chihuly Workshop.

“The energy of these drawings, their detail and complexity, the determination they express can make you conclude that Dale Chihuly found the best way of communicating straight from his brain to his hand to the world,” writes Francine Prose, author of the book’s foreword. Chihuly: Faxes features over 21 color photographs and 130 faxes hand-picked from an archive of over 7,500.

Chihuly Over Venice fax. Image courtesy of Chihuly Workshop.

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