Israeli Innovations: A gift for glass

Boaz Grushka also uses a vast array of colors and types of glass in his work, incorporating glass bottles of all sizes - from tiny perfume bottles to large olive oil containers.

innov glass 88 (photo credit: )
innov glass 88
(photo credit: )
On top of the kitchen cabinet in a spacious Tel Aviv apartment, a straight line of glass bottles stand like obedient soldiers, waiting for the touch of Boaz Grushka's artistic hand. Grushka, who returned to Israel in 2004, has been transforming broken glass into art for the last five years. "Some of the bottles I use are not broken to start with, so those I can cut into any lines I want," Grushka says, picking up an opaque Vodka bottle to point out the lines of text he sometimes uses to create more interesting light. "This one has print on it, so when you put a lit candle inside, shadows appear in the reflections, and because the glass is not transparent, the light is even softer." Grushka also uses a vast array of colors and types of glass in his work, incorporating glass bottles of all sizes - from tiny perfume bottles to large olive oil containers. "I love the qualities of glass," says Grushka. "Glass is the foundation of my work because its colors and textures are so rich and variable. I use antique and new glass - some of it is even from the Phoenician era." Once the base shape of the glass art has been chosen, Grushka begins the real work. With a soldering iron that melts alloy at 450 degrees centigrade, he first lines the broken edge of the glass with metal, usually silver or copper. After the rim has been sealed, Grushka slowly layers the silver, making intricate designs and weaving it into patterns around circular glass beads. "I have a rough patch of skin on my finger from the constant heat, but I'm used to it," says Grushka, pointing to a small, discolored area on his hand. Grushka first had the idea for his art when he was traveling and met an Israeli artist who was working with glass in New York. He decided to use similar material to experiment with his own techniques. For the first few years of his career, Grushka was making his art in Florida and selling to a largely American and European market. Since that time, Grushka says his style has evolved and changed tremendously. Today, he sells his work in the Nahalat Binyamin market in Tel Aviv and travels to London twice a year to man a stall at the Covent Garden Weekend Jubilee Market. "I don't have to sell my work. I enjoy explaining it and hearing feedback, but people usually either appreciate it or they don't," says Grushka, who also does custom work for people - sometimes for those who want to find a way of keeping a sentimental bottle that has broken. "You can use some of the pieces as vases for flowers or as candle holders, but some people just buy them for decoration, too," he says, picking up one of the smaller pieces with a silver fairy soldered on the top. Like many artists, Grushka keeps a cabinet filled with art he could never sell. Several shelves are lined with unique pieces, but a clear evolution of style is apparent - from the first large, chunky creations to the smaller, more intricate designs that appear in Grushka's contemporary work. "I studied to be a goldsmith in Tel Aviv at a design studio on Shenkin a few years ago, and since then I've begun to pay a lot more attention to the small details," says Grushka. "The details take more patience, and I am more patient now." Grushka, who grew up in Emek Israel, says that being around nature as a child gave him many opportunities to make things and be creative. "My grandfather was a silversmith, and I always loved to express myself with my hands," says Grushka of his pastoral childhood. "I even chose this apartment because, although I am in the center of Tel Aviv, I still have a nice tangerine tree, and I was looking for something with roots." Part of the enjoyment Grushka draws from his art involves knowing that his life is touching others. "Each piece I make is unique, generates its own ambiance and is privy to conversations in various languages across the world," says Grushka, smiling at the thought. "It's cool to know that a part of me is in so many different places - that I am making my footprints in the universe." For more information, visit