Glass Vessels: An International Invitational by Brion Clinkingbeard
Valerie & Rick Beck
William Bernstein
Sonja Blomdahl

Bill Boysen
John Brekke
Curtiss Brock
Sydney Cash

Scott Chaseling
Ben Edols & Kate Elliot
Linda Fifield 

Shane Fero
Bert Frijns
Niyoko Ikuta

Ed Kirshner
Toshikazu Kobayashi
Warren Langley
Marvin Lipofsky

Alicia Lomné
Patrick Martin
Dante Marioni

Joel Philip Meyers
Massimo Micheluzzi
Klaus Moje
Nick Mount 
Anna Munkevica
Etshko Nishi
Roger Parramore
Ronald Pennell
Poole & Petrovic
Colin Reid
Maria Grazia Rosin

Rene Roubicek
Tommie Rush
Joyce Scott
Lino Tagliapietra
Pamina Traylor
Mary Van Cline
James Watkins

Brook Forrest White Jr.
Toots Zynsky


Glass Vessels: Intro

Rick Beck Exhibition

Celebration of Glass

Events and Activities

Toots Zynsky, Nuvolagia, 2002, Detail

Webster’s Dictionary describes a vessel in very simple terms as “a utensil for holding something, as a bowl or kettle, etc.”  The vessel appears in many forms throughout history and in literature. The Sangreal is the vessel from which our Savior drank at the Last Supper. The Delias was the sacred vessel made by Theseus and sent annually from Athens to Delos. A vessel is literally a waterborne ship, or a starship, the physical body[1] or the soul.[2]

Since the earliest days of glass manufacture glass vessels have been used to store valuable commodities – from wine to oils lotions and emollients.  Until about 50 B.C. glass objects could only be made slowly. Using casting, core forming, or cutting techniques, a vessel might take several days to make by. Because it was difficult and time-consuming to make, glass was a rare luxury item. That situation quickly changed with the discovery of glass blowing. Roman people, probably in Phoenicia (mostly modern Lebanon) discovered that an object could be formed by gathering molten glass on the end of a hollow blowing pipe, and inflating it like a bubble. It could be blown into a hollow mold to form it or freely shaped with simple tools on the end of the blowpipe. For the first time, a worker could mass-produce dozens of objects a day with glassblowing techniques, so glass vessels became common and relatively inexpensive.

Glass, particularly blown glass, naturally lends itself to the vessel form. It is a flexible, malleable, inert material that is readily transformed in the hands of the skilled artist. “There is a real choreography to blowing glass, a rhythmic motion akin to dancing that appeals to me. It’s very alive. You have to keep moving, you can’t stop,” says glass artist Toots Zynsky

The vessel form is the inspiration for this international invitational exhibition. Artist from across the globe were invited to put their creativity to work and interpret the vessel using their own particular language and methodology. The result is an inspiring feast of artistic expression, affirming the extraordinary creativity of the studio glass movement.

Steven Powell’s vessels are a sumptuous blend of color and heart-stopping scale. A color-field artist, his signature vessels have nothing to do with practicality but are meditative explorations in color manipulation in relation to surface modulation.

In sharp contrast to Powell’s explosive use of color, Bert Frijns, from the Netherlands, transforms a very familiar material – flat plate glass – into sculptural vessel forms of elegant simplicity. His are subtle works, explorations in three dimensions of line, volume and space.

Toots Zynsky employs a kiln-forming technique that is in some ways similar to that of Bert Frijns. Her base material is thousands of colored glass threads, which are fused together and hand-manipulated while hot to create vessel forms. Her explosive use of color is inspired by among other things; the brilliant colors of Italian medieval and renaissance paintings and her finished works a balance between fragility and carefully considered sculptural manipulation.

Ronald Pennell and Lisabeth Sterling are glass engravers who transform the surfaces of their blown glass vessels with diamond-tool engraving techniques. Theirs are narrative works, with figures, flora and fauna enveloping the surface in delicately rendered fine detail. Sterling’s work has a contemporary, often sociopolitical meaning to it while Pennell creates highly personal images of fantastic beasts – harpies, rhinos, crocodiles, tigers and pet terriers - drawn from his imagination and the everyday world of rural Herefordshire, England.

C.S. Tarpley carves his blown glass vessels by sandblasting Celtic, Mayan, Greek, Chinese and Native American inspired geometric patterns deep into the surface of the glass. He then employs a difficult and rarely used method of electroforming to fuse copper onto the surface of the carved glass forms. “Every design I use is universal and appears in European and African traditions as well as Native American,” says Tarpley. “The multicultural nature of these motifs appeals to my sense of place in our modern culture and allows me to honor the multiple nationalities and ethnicities that comprise my family.”

Gizela Šabóková, from Prague, is one of the rising stars of the current generation of Czech glass artists. Hers are sculptural works with no illusions of functionality. They are monumental cast glass sculptures that utilize deep, rich, concentrated color and rough, carved surface details. This combination gives her works a geological look and feel, which seems to mimic the textures of stone, ice and lava while encompassing the colors of the setting African sun, a blast furnace or of a frozen Antarctic iceberg.

Sónja Blomdahl’s vessels are an exploration of elegant form and sophisticated color. She incorporates traditional Italian encalmo glass forming and craved battuto finishing techniques to create vessels that radiate with the intensity of their colors and the purity of their forms.

[1] Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.

W.H. (Wystan Hugh) Auden. In Memory of W.B. Yeats, Another Time (1940).


[2] “A man’s interest in the world is only the overflow from his interest in himself. When you are a child your vessel is not yet full; so you care for nothing but your own affairs. When you grow up, your vessel overflows; and you are a politician, a philosopher, or an explorer and adventurer. In old age the vessel dries up: there is no overflow: you are a child again,” George Bernard Shaw, (1919). Captain Shotover, in Heartbreak House, act 2,