As you enter in the first gallery of the Chihuly Collection, there is a long wooden slab table with roughhewn edges upon which a series of artwork is displayed. These asymmetrical forms, with thin undulating walls, are part of Dale Chihuly’s Basket series.
Begun in the late 70s, Chihuly named the Basket series in honor of the Native American woven baskets that first inspired this body of work. He was captivated by a selection of Northwest Indian baskets at the Washington State Historical Society, which were displayed in stacked groupings and had irregular slumping forms as a result of age and gravity.
Several of the Baskets in this grouping are from the 80s and demonstrate the artist’s early experimentations with subtle color and surface patterns, while others, from later blows in 2008, are known as Tabac Baskets. Here the artist chose a smoky tobacco color, Tabac 222, that references the natural palette of Native American baskets.
The glass drawings illustrated in these Tabac Baskets reference the textile patterns seen in Chihuly’s Native American trade blanket collection. These patterns are created from glass threads, which are then fused to the molten vessel through a process called the “pick-up drawing” technique.