Rick and Valerie Beck Contemporary Glass Artists Creating Beautiful Objects

I love to meet the artist when I buy a work of art.  About 8 years ago I bought one of Val’s beautiful glass vases from the Penland Gallery, and a short time later I connected with Rick and Valerie. They graciously gave me directions to their glass studio in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. I’ve been enamored with their work ever since that meeting.

Beck Glass are beautiful art resources for interior designers.

Rick and Valerie Beck with
Rick and Valerie Beck – Static, left – Daisy, right

Rick and Valerie graduated from the same college, same year in Nebraska, however they didn’t meet until a year later through a mutual friend.  They began working together in glass, married, and decided to continued their graduate studies at Southern Illinois U Carbondale.  They earned their Masters Degrees,  Rick in Art and Val in Educational Psychology. It wasn’t long before Val was back working in glass with Rick. One of life’s unexpected turns despite planning, but a good one, as you will discover.

2 Green Rocker 16"x16"x6"
Rick Beck               2 Green Rocker 17″h x 52″w x 7″h           cast glass

Rick does all the cast glass pieces, and all the glass blowing in collaboration with Val for her more decorative works.  Val designs, paints, and sandblasts, depending on the series and pieces.

Valerie and Rick Beck
Valerie and Rick Beck     Stellae Series       15″x15″x6″    Hot worked and slumped glass with cane inclusions

The Stellae Series and can be seen at The Art Cellar and Twisted Laurel Gallery, both in North Carolina, and Gravers Lane Gallery in Philadelphia.

Blue Dreamer
Rick Beck     Blue Dreamer              7″h x 21″w x 3″d

Rick’s works are definitely in the Collector category.  His work is represented by Ken Saunders Gallery in Chicago, a top tier gallery for glass in the United States.

Beck Glass
Valerie and Rick Beck    Peter and the Wolf  &  The Wolf in Sheeps Clothing    13″dia  4″deep  Blown Glass, sandcarved
Lion Mouse Goose that Laid the Golden Egg
Valerie and Rick Beck    Lion & Mouse    and       Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

Val’s decorative works are very reasonably priced by original art. Val is considering doing a storybook series that will be sold together, wouldn’t a series of 6 look fabulous on the wall of a child’s room.

Blue C Clamp
Rick Beck   Blue C Clamp      73″x23″x16″      cast glass

Hmmmm. I identify with this piece. If you live in a world with stress and pressure, you probably do as well!

Rick Beck
Rick Beck        Tectonic Plate Rocker         30″h x 28″w x 9″d        Ken Saunders Gallery

You’ll find a brief explanation of all the processes Rick and Val use at the bottom of this posting. Pretty interesting, and probably a lot more labor intensive than you imagined.

Cast glass Spoons
Rick Beck        Cast glass Spoons               approx 32″x5″x4″deep  all in individually created to your specs    $3,750

The spoons shown above are between 32″ and 36″.  Rick can customize the size since EACH work is created individually.

Rick also does big fishing hooks. Don’t tell my husband.

Cast Glass Spoons
Rick Beck          Cast Glass Spoons   &    Cast Glass Screws

ALL Rick’s cast pieces are one of a kind. Each and every spoon or screw is individually created!

Cast Glass Fork Spoon Knife
Rick Beck            Cast Glass Fork Spoon Knife           about 30″L

So cool.  These are being cleaned and ready to be packed and shipped as I took this photo. They are sold.  Rick calls this blue “killer blue”.

Cast Glass Kitchen Utensils           Spoon shown before final sanding and polishing
Grinding the cast glass into a finished work
Rick grinding the cast glass into a finished work

Whoa! This is a lot of work!  The artist goes through agonizing detailed work digging down to the beauty before you see the finished cast glass art work.

Val at work
Val at work with her loyal studio assistant, Static
Applique Floral
Valerie and Beck           Applique Floral       blown glass with encased sand carved imagery
Shadows Vines Patterned Stripes
Valerie and Beck          Vines  &  Patterned Stripes            blown glass with encased sand carved imagery
The Bremen
Val and Rick Beck        Bremen Town Musicians               13″dia 5″deep

Val explains the PROCESSES:  Blown shadow, silhouette and applique techniques

“These pieces begin as a two color overlay with two layers of powder. After annealing, I use resist, and sandblast the imagery. When we are blowing we preheat the blank, pick it up on the pipe, gather over it, and blow it out.

For the appliqué pieces, there are a couple more steps. For these, I also sandblast completely separate glass pieces to be picked up hot on the exterior of the piece as we are blowing.  It is worked onto the piece, and then the whole thing is blown out.”

Sandcarved bowl technique

“First, we blow a shallow bowl with three layers of color, and clear for the exterior.  Next, I take sandblast resist, called Buttercut, and draw the imagery that I want on it. I cut that out of the resist. Then, after the bowl is cooled, I peel off the backing and stick it on the glass bowl.  I take that to my sandblast cabinet and sandblast everything that is not under the resist. I can do that to different layers of the color. I can also peel off different parts that are on the bowl and blast them to different layers.

After that, I take all the resist off and wash the bowl very well. Then I apply a finish called Liquid Luster.  The bowl sits for a day, and it is then buffed off.”

Short explanation of cast glass process

“Rick’s cast pieces are all one of a kind. He begins by making the figure or shape out of clay. Next step is investing it in plaster, then digging out the clay. After editing that, by carving and changing the mold, it is put into the annealer. Chunks of glass are put into the mold and it is heated to 1600 degrees, then held there for annealing. The time it takes to come down to room temperature depends on the size of the piece, which can be anywhere from a week to two months.  Once the mold is removed from the annealer, the plaster/silica mold is completely broken away and the piece is carved using diamond tools to get the shape and texture he wants.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long blog! Rick and Valerie’s work can not be described in any fewer words.

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