An ancient art still practiced today
Hamzeh Natsheh is a master glass-blower who runs the artist collective Hebron Glass along with his son, Hamdi. First extablished in 1890 and residing in the city of Hebron, located in Palestine’s West Bank, the artists of the family owned business make a range of dreamily colored, astonishingly creative glass products. Natsheh traces his family’s history of glass-blowing to the first half of the 19th century, but it has roots in the area which go back to 122-330 CE. The business employs 60 artisans, both men and women.
In addition to decorative, hanging plates, Natsheh is also a master of creating functional glassware such as dishes, bowls, pitchers and vases. Other items include delicate bracelets, made with sterling silver chain interspersed with inlaid bits of glimmering glass. It may come as a surprise that the artists use recycled raw materials for so much of these fine art glass objects. Sea-foam green coloration on lots of the items comes courtesy of Coca Cola bottles, for example.
As is traditional in this part of the world, the skills necessary to make Hebron Glass’s products are passed down from one family member to another. Glass-blowing is a highly specialized artform, and requires years of apprenticeship before one can achieve the status of master. Glass is heated until it reaches a viscous state, then it is mouth-blown using a long steel pipe. All of the objects produced by Hamzeh Natsheh and his artisans contain stylistic elements which are unique to Palestinian tradition, and though the techniques used may be thousands of years old, Hebron Glass produces items of distinctively timeless beauty.