TUESDAY, Dec. 1 — For over 2,000 years, hand-blown glass has been made in Hebron, the largest city in the Palestinian West Bank. Rarely seen outside of the Middle East, 100 of these unique, swirl-colored hand-blown glass vases, decanters and pitchers made by Hebron artisans will be on display at East Lansing’s Saper Galleries.
Hebron artisans use long metal hollow tubes to pick up a slurry of molten recycled glass in an 1,800 degree furnace and blow through the tube to expand the glass, turning the tube and using metal tools to form the glass into the desired shape. Additional molten glass is added to the blown shape and is swirled into the unique designs that define the style of Hebron glass. The functional glass vessels are often of ancient Phoenician designs and are largely amber, green or blue colors made from molten recycled glass.
Many artisans learn the glass blowing craft from their parents as it is passed down from prior generations. In 2012, Saper Galleries owner Roy Saper and his family visited one of the few remaining family-owned businesses in Hebron that is still making glass based on Phoenician traditions. Residents of the region claim that nearly a dozen other glass blowing studios have closed in recent years.
"I was immediately captivated by the swirling colors achieved by the glass-blowers, unlike any other blown glass I've seen before or made in any other country," Saper said. "This glass truly is unusual and is also Fair Trade. The glass blowers are paid fair wages and use sustainable methods in their operation."
Due to political, security and other challenges in the Hebron area, it is difficult for glass artists to export their works. The lack of tourism reduces the opportunity for the world to see or purchase these hand-blown glassworks.
Since 2012, Hebron artisans have collaborated with Saper Galleries to create a variety of exclusive glass items for the gallery. The 100 vases, pitchers and decanters created this summer for the gallery is the largest collection of Hebron glass designs ever exhibited together outside of the Middle East.
The Hebron Glass Collection at Saper Galleries opens Sunday with a reception from 1 to 4 p.m. at Saper Galleries. The opening is free, open to the public and is fully accessible. The exhibition will continue through January 2016, and the gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. on the first Sunday of each month.
The Hebron Glass Collection Opening
1- 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 6
433 Albert Ave., East Lansing.
(517) 351-0815, sapergalleries.com