Beck Glass: Aesop & Other Fables

(This exhibit has now concluded, but we continue to have several examples from the show on hand. Please call or email us for more details, including special order options.)

In keeping with Iowa City’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature, Iowa Artisans Gallery features an exhibit of hand blown, sandblasted glass illustrating fables by Aesop and others. Created by Rick & Valerie Beck, North Carolina, the exhibit opens during the Downtown Iowa City Gallery Walk June 6 and runs until July 6, 2014. Fables in this exhibit include Aesop’s The Goose with the Golden Eggs, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Hare & the Tortoise, The Lion & the Mouse, plus Dilliki Dolliki Dinah, a fable based on a poem by Laura Richards.


Illustrating a story in glass is not easy; Beck Glass does this with a “sand-carved bowl” technique. First, Rick blows a shallow bowl with three layers of color plus a clear exterior layer. Then Valerie employs a resist mask on which the illustrations are drawn and applied to this shallow bowl. The bowl is then sandblasted, repeating with different layers as desired. The resist is removed and the piece is washed and finished.


Natives of Nebraska, Beck Glass is located in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. The artists both graduated in 1982 from Hastings College in Hastings, Nebraska. They began working together in glass in 1984, then went to Southern Illinois University for Graduate School, Rick in art and Val in Educational Psychology. But Val spent most of her time in the art department. Following graduate school, they had a two-year residency at Appalachian Center for Crafts in Smithville, Tennessee and a three-year residency at Penland School of Craft in North Carolina. In 1994, they moved eight miles down the mountain to Spruce Pine, NC, where they bought a house and built a studio. They are living happily ever after with their dogs, Static and Daisy.

Here's an example of one of the Aesop, fables: The Lion & the Mouse


A Lion lay asleep in the forest, his great head resting on his paws. A timid little Mouse came upon him unexpectedly, and in her fright and haste to get away, ran across the Lion's nose. Roused from his nap, the Lion laid his huge paw angrily on the tiny creature to kill her.


"Spare me!" begged the poor Mouse. "Please let me go and some day I will surely repay you."


The Lion was much amused to think that a Mouse could ever help him. But he was generous and finally let the Mouse go.


Some days later, while stalking his prey in the forest, the Lion was caught in the toils of a hunter's net. Unable to free himself, he filled the forest with his angry roaring. The Mouse knew the voice and quickly found the Lion struggling in the net. Running to one of the great ropes that bound him, she gnawed it until it parted, and soon the Lion was free.
"You laughed when I said I would repay you," said the Mouse. "Now you see that even a Mouse can help a Lion."
                                     A kindness is never wasted.

Iowa Artisans Gallery was established by artists in 1984. features work by American artists and specializes in Midwestern artists. 2014 is the Gallery’s 30th Anniversary!

Daily hours are Monday through Friday 10am-6pm; Saturday 10am-5:30pm and Sunday 12-4pm. Starting May 1 through the summer, the Gallery will be open from 10-7pm on Thursdays. For more information, please contact the Gallery at 319-351-8686.


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at Iowa Artisans Gallery: Beck Glass, "The Fox and the Grapes," Aesop's Fable; handblown, sand-carved glass bowl, 4.5" x 15"
at Iowa Artisans Gallery: Beck Glass, "The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg," Aesop's Fable; handblown, sand-carved glass bowl, 4" x 15"
at Iowa Artisans Gallery: Beck Glass, "The Tortoise and the Hare," Aesop's Fable; handblown, sand-carved glass bowl, 4.25" x 14"

at Iowa Artisans Gallery: Beck Glass, "The Emperor's New Clothes," Aesop's Fable; handblown, sand-carved glass bowl, 3" x 14.5"
at Iowa Artisans Gallery: Beck Glass, "Dilliki Dolliki Dinah," based on a poem by Laura Young; handblown, sand-carved glass bowl, 4" x 14.5"
at Iowa Artisans Gallery: Beck Glass, "The Fox and the Grapes," handblown, sand-carved glass bowl, 4.5" x 15"
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