in partnership
(Image courtesy of Whidbey Camano Islands Tourism)

Artist of the Week: Mark Ellinger

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!

Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating?
Mark Ellinger: I have been creating since I was a little kid. I have always been a hands on person and enjoyed doing things with my hands. As far as my glass blowing I started blowing glass in 1983 and am still learning all the time to create things out of molten glass. We do work with other materials in the glass like copper wire & pipe, driftwood, rocks and cement.

Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
I would say that the artistic process starts in the artists mind and then it is formed into the work of art by taking the molten glass which is like honey in a giant honey pot.

As soon as you take the molten glass out of the melting furnace it begins to cool and get hard, you only have a short time to manipulate the glass before you need to reheat it in a piece of equipment that is called a glory hole that is about 2300 degrees. With each heat of the glass the piece of art is transformed into what was in my minds eye, it can take a couple of hours to create a piece and heating it every 30 seconds to a minute or two requires patience and precise manipulation of the glass to get to the desired original idea. All of the color is added to the clear glass that comes out of the melting furnace & is an art in itself, I have just scratched the surface on all the ways to apply color and manipulate it. You can not really stop, step back and think about what you want to do next, you have to keep going and finish the piece and then put it away into a oven that is about 950 degrees and wait for about 24 to 36 hours to see how the piece turned out.

Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
Inspiration for my art comes from many places and people, everything from our great surroundings in the Pacific Northwest, the great works from the Nouveau and Deco periods, Dale Chihuly and yes, Pinterest.

Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
Our beat I guess would be mostly nature, many of our pieces are inspired from nature.

Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I cant say that I have one piece of my art that I like best, but my son Marcus and I did a commission for the Camano Island Library that was a lot of fun to do together and is one of the biggest pieces that we have done. It is very special to be able to work with my son every day!

What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Making things that bring people joy every time they look at the piece, that is a wonderful thing to be blessed with while receiving the joy of creating.

If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
You can go to our website to see most of our art work.

What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
We are coming up on the next season of spring and summer garden shows and have some ideas that we have been wanting to try and work on that involve glass on copper and concrete sculptures.

It is hard to find the time to work on new things when you have to make and sell just to be able to keep blowing glass. It is one of the most expensive art forms to do.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
We like our coffee dark with cream! Sometimes with a little kick ;)