Dale Chihuly

The most unusual aspect of the Atlantis project is that Sol Kerzner came to me asking if I would create the Temple of the Moon and the Temple of the Sun. I told him I would, even though I don't normally work with a theme. I knew I could create the sun very successfully, but the moon would have to somehow be blown and constructed in an entirely original way. I knew it would be difficult and force me to make something new.

Sol came to my Seattle studio many times over the following nine months, and after viewing the beginnings of the moon and the sun he told me about a crystal gate he planned at the entrance to the casino. He wanted to use real crystals, and the piece would be about six feet high. But then he decided that the scale wouldn't be monumental enough for the space, and asked me how I might do the piece in glass. Of all the pieces for Atlantis, the Crystal Gate was the most challenging and difficult. We redid it about five times before we could make glass and armature work together. Finally, I set about making an eighteen-foot-high Crystal Gate out of 3,100 hand-blown crystals.

After we had installed the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, and the Crystal Gate, I got a call from Sol asking me to fly immediately down to Atlantis and look at the high-limits area of the casino. He was unhappy with how it looked and hoped I could come up with a solution and have it installed in time for the opening-in three weeks! I flew down, then told him I could do it. We spent the afternoon working up some drawings, but he would have to trust me since he wouldn't have time to fly to Seattle to approve the mock-up. He agreed, which was very hard for Sol because he likes to be hands-on. I proceeded to blow and fabricate and install the Atlantis Chandelier by opening night. By the end of the day I had a 900-element sculpture, twelve by ten feet, animated by sea life, and Sol loved it.

Dale Chihuly, 1998

Published in Chihuly Atlantis, Portland Press, 1999.