The artful chemistry of glass

Not knowing what she wanted to do with her life after graduating from the Technion Institute with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, Yafit Haba, encouraged by one of her professors, continued on to a master’s program and eventually a doctoral program in chemical engineering.

As a full-time doctoral student at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Haba worked with the chemical engineering and materials science and engineering departments on the production of polymer blends containing PVC (polyvinyl chloride). But while she enjoyed the research, she felt she wanted a more flexible schedule so she could spend time with her family.

“Sometimes you have to make your decisions in life,” she said. “I was not sure I wanted to work from the morning to the afternoon. I wanted to have something more flexible. I wanted to be with my kids.”

That was when Haba decided to turn her childhood passion for art into a full-time career. As a child growing up in Israel, she had mostly created art using clay, wood, and knitting with yarn. But she soon discovered stained glass, and a few years later, would discover glass fusing. Glass fusing dates back to ancient Egypt, but became repopularized in the United States during the 1960s. The art form was just taking off in Israel in the early 2000s, but was more labor intensive than stained glass and required a kiln to melt the materials.

Three years after Haba first began working with fused glass, her husband received a job offer from Microsoft, and they and their two children moved to Redmond. She was finally able to purchase her own kiln and set up a studio for her artwork, but was still hesitant about sharing it with the public.

“In the beginning, I was creating for myself,” Haba explained. “I wasn’t sure if someone would really like my art.”

But her friends encouraged her, and she soon began not only selling her pieces, but also offering classes in glass fusing, mosaics, and collage to adults and children alike. Ten years later, she now offers classes at her studio in Redmond, and also works closely with Smart With Art, an art education program available to pre-schools and elementary schools in the greater Seattle area.

Haba has focused her personal work in the realm of Judaica items.

“I love making Judaica items because that’s who I am,” she said. While she enjoys making menorahs the most, she also sells candlesticks, mezuzot, and even non-Judaica items such as earrings and plates.

A large collection of Haba’s work is featured at the Bellevue Square Mall, but her art is also available at Collage in Kirkland, the Judaica shop at Temple B’nai Torah in Bellevue, and on Etsy.com
You can visit Yafit Haba’s website to see a full gallery of her creations — including a turkey menorah in honor of this year’s Thanksgivvukah holiday — at http://www.yafitglass.com, or you can order items online through her Etsy store at http://www.yafitglass.etsy.com.

This piece originally appeared in JT News.

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