August 27

Into the Fire

Despite a global pandemic, glassybaby continues to shine (and give back).

Long known for its simple but elegant votives, glassybaby has become a Seattle institution. The maker of artisan-blown glass gifts opened up its newest spot in SLU in early 2021, and this location serves up more than retail — it’s a fully functioning hot shop. According to Maddie Gander, glassybaby’s brick and mortar manager and corporate gifting manager, the business has about 70 artists working at three different hot shops in Washington. And there are typically 4–6 working in SLU at any given time.

Glass votives being shaped by two glass artist wearing Hawaiian shirts..

We caught up with Maddie to chat about all things glassybaby.

Discover South Lake Union: How has the pandemic affected glassybaby production?

Maddie Gander: Glassybaby has been greatly affected by the pandemic, we were unable to produce any glassybaby for almost three months. During that time we continued to sell glassybaby, spreading hope and light during one of the darkest times. Our artists are now working tirelessly to rebuild our inventory from the ground up. They have had to adapt to a multitude of changes but, they continue to produce beautiful works of art that allow glassybaby to continue its mission of giving back. Glassybaby has now given back over $11 million to the community.

DSLU: What is different about the SLU glassybaby compared to other locations?

MG: Our SLU shop is unique for a couple of different reasons. It features a museum wall with almost every glassybaby ever produced (in alphabetical order) as well as a beautiful, open event space and a hot shop. These spaces were specifically designed to cater to group events and allow the public to witness the magical creation of glassybaby. The whole building features open windows, which allows onlookers to see through the entire space. We also offer a private tour of our hot shop every Friday afternoon at 4pm. You can email [email protected] to sign up.

DSLU: Are there opportunities for patrons to be in the glassmaking space, or is it view only?

MG: We will be hosting our first in-person glassblowing event since the pandemic began next month. Guests will have the opportunity to work one-on-one with a glass artisan to create either a paperweight, bowl, or float.

Torch tool working on the bottom of a glass votive.

DSLU: Any plans for more events soon?

MG: Over the past few months we have hosted many collaborative events and will continue to host more. We have partnered with Woodinville Whiskey for a whiskey tasting, Elm Candle Bar for a candle-making event, and we have hosted multiple dinners and get-togethers catered by amazing chefs. We are also excited to be able to offer our glassblowing events once again.

If you’re in the neighborhood, stop by glassybaby at 2254 Seventh Avenue to watch as local artisans create glass art Monday through Friday, 7am to 10pm. You can also take a tour of the studio, which happens every Friday at 4pm. Contact [email protected] to sign up.

Story by Ethan Chung & photographs courtesy of glassybaby.

At The Center

SLU is the geographical center of Seattle