I’m originally from al-Aqaba, Jordan. When I first came to Hebron to visit my family, it was all one taxi ride, no borders, no crossings. While we were here, the Jordanian army told us to use blue glass in our windows to hide ourselves from rockets in the night. The tanks came, but nothing happened. We stayed until the ’67 war began to subside. When we returned to al-Aqaba, there were two border checks. Soon, I came back to Hebron, and now I have a shop in the Old City. I use recycled glass and old fuel from people’s cars. My uncle did this work, and when I visited his factory, I would collect broken pieces of glass and clean things. When the workers left for lunch, I would try to do a little. My uncle would shout at me “Ard! Don’t do that! It’s dangerous!” I started to sleep at the factory, so I could stoke the ovens and move the pieces from the big oven to the little one. I would work in the night. I would burn myself so much; the glass was like water. The next day, I would watch carefully to fix my mistakes. One day, I made a vase and everyone was shocked. My uncle said “When! Where! How!” The factory made just three or four designs, but while I was falling asleep I would think up many more. The people began to ask for the new ones. Believe me, 90% of the designs in this city are mine–– I have at least 850. I started from nothing. 70 degrees below nothing! I’ve done this work for 47 years now and have been professionally certified in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Jordan. I’ve been all over the world to show others how I work. I even brought my oven all the way to France with me.
- Ard Canaan