Who We Are

II have always been interested in design, form, and function. Early on my glass art was greatly influenced by architect, Mies Van der Rohe and his philosophy that less is more. Beauty exists in any object. In an attempt to maximize on clean lines of a piece and allow the radiance to shine through, I have experimented with many art forms. During my journey, I discovered my true love for glass blowing.

Since then, I have studied under many of the best and talented glass artists at the Pratt Fine Arts Studio in Seattle where I had the pleasure of working with Kathrine Gray, Sabrina Knowles, Jennifer Pohlman, Karen Willenbrink-Johnsen and Mitchell Gaudet who have all shared their love of glass and glass techniques with me.

I also had the honor of studying New Bohemia glass techniques with Master Glassblower Josef Zubac. I studied Italian and Swedish techniques with John Collins and Denis Mullens.

I have always believed that life and art are on the job training, so as my life progresses so does my art. In recent years I have used my glass art to help raise money for various charities, a passion that has grown and one I continue to expand

I have always been a person who loves to work with my hands, from wood working to Glass blowing, I enjoy the process.
I have had the honor of studying New Bohemia glass techniques with Master Glassblower Josef Zubac.
In 1999 I was given a Christmas gift that would change my life forever. Juliana, my wife, had hung a mysterious red envelope from the Christmas tree. In it was a gift certificate for glassblowing classes. From the moment I stepped into the hot shop I was hooked.

I have continued to pursue and improve my skill at this ancient craft through courses at Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle Glassblowing and Uptown Glassworks. I have recently displayed my art in galleries throughout Washington State and Italy. I passionately support local charities including Pilchuck Glass School, Schmitz Park Elementary, West Seattle High School and numerous other local non-profit organizations. The annual glass pumpkin sale at West Seattle High School is quickly becoming the highlight of my year.

I am thrilled to be a part of Renton Art & Glass Studio. This is the most amazing studio and this team of artists has an incredible level of skill and passion. It’s quite exciting to be part of this creative endeavor.

I hope you enjoy our gallery and studio and you find some special pieces of art glass that speak to you!

Chris Heilman is a contemporary master of the centuries-old techniques of hand blown glass.

Like aquariums frozen in suspended animation his Coral Reef Sculpture Series captures the tranquility and timelessness of the deep. Brilliantly colored fish swim motionlessly through delicate seafans and clusters of coral. Each sculpture evokes a marine fantasia in glass.

“As all artists, my work is inevitably inspired by my life,” says Heilman. “My Coral Reef Series evolves from my recent interest in scuba diving, which gives me the opportunity to express my fascination with the mysterious world of inner space, the coral reef. Myriad colors of encrusting sponges, design of coral colonies and detail of coral reef fish land opportunity to exciting new ways of personal expression and expansion of technique in the glass media. My intent lies in creating a complex tapestry of color Juxtaposed with design through layering of torchdrawn glass cane imagery.”

The remarkable detail is achieved by using the traditional lampmaking and murrini techniques. Heilman spends a considerable amount of time pre-making the numerous band-pulled glass rods and canes, called murrini that are used to create the design elements inside each sculpture. The earliest known murrini were made around 1500 BC by the Egyptians.

Creating each sculpture himself, from initial design to final execution, Chris Heilman torch-melts the rods and murrini bits so that it is like “painting” with brilliantly colored molten glass layering each piece from the inside out, he sculpted a three dimensional underwater seascape. The final stage involves encasing the interior assemblage in clear molten crystal. Creating each piece can take up to five hours with the finished sculpture weighing from five to twenty pounds.

“I strive for authenticity,” explains Heilman, “but I don’t plan or sketch the pieces. It happens spontaneously. I make the actual fish I have seen, but I think technically of the colors together; the pieces, to me, are about color, about playing with color.”

Heilman maintains his studio on the coast of Maine. His sculptures have been exhibited at galleries and museums throughout the United States and are included in the permanent collections of the Portland Museum of Art, ME; The Museum of American Glass, NJ; and the Swarovski International Corporation in Zurich, Switzerland. In 1991 one of Heilman’s sculptures was presented as a Spirit and Enrichment Award to Jacques-Yves Cousteau by the Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida