The female glass artists spreading joy and happiness through their designs
Camekan Glass Art & Design’s Gamze Araz Eskinazi and Yasemin Sayinsoy are breaking stereotypes in Turkey’s male-dominated glassblowing industry through their joyful, nature-inspired glass pieces.
Gamze Araz Eskinazi and Yasemin Sayinsoy have been fascinated with glassblowing all their lives, but they never thought they would end up being Turkey’s female pioneers in this male-dominated craft.
Both women met in 2003 while learning glassblowing techniques at The Glass Furnace Foundation, Turkey’s largest and best-equipped glass and art centre. At that time, 37-year-old Sayinsoy was working in hospitality while 33-year-old Eskinazi was an interior designer.
Eskinazi said: “I was interested in hot glass but I was not sure if I was capable of that so I took the workshop for beginners. Since my childhood, this material always seemed vibrant and beautiful to me. I was curious about the process and wanted to learn about it.”
As the women dialogued, they realised they could turn their passion into a business. In 2005, they decided to form Camekan Glass Art & Design and open a shop to sell their glass products, which are inspired by nature and positive emotions.
It turned out to be the perfect partnership as both women complement each other in their strengths – Sayinsoy is the more fun and creative one brimming with ideas on colours, patterns and craft, while Eskinazi’s academic background makes her more organised and meticulous about designing. The latter’s daughter helps to look after their social media branding and sales.
Turkish glassblowing artists Gamze Araz Eskinazi and Yasemin Sayinsoy are an inspiration for women interested in glass arts, which initially didn’t seem to be a suitable profession for women.
Eskinazi said: “The most fascinating part of glassblowing is being able to shape a fluid material with your breath, your body movements and equipment. This process is the most captivating to me. As a designer and producer, to control this fluid and hot material and to produce something with it, makes me very happy.”
Sayinsoy added: “I like the smell, I like the light, I like the glow when you first turn on the furnace, the fluidity of the glass after this, and the difficulty or ease of controlling it.”
The women’s unconventional creations soon attracted attention, and prestigious commissions followed. They have held glass workshops in Finland and exhibited in the United States and around Turkey.
In 2013, the duo were the first to represent Turkey as female glassblowers at the Sculptural Objects and Functional Art (SOFA) Fair in Chicago with an installation of glass birds suspended on wooden branches.
In 2015, Pasabahce, a leading Turkish glassware producer, approached the duo to work on the Omnia Project, where traditional techniques were adapted to contemporary design forms. Among the pieces created by Eskinazi and Sayinsoy was an unusual three-dimensional version of the evil eye, a traditional good luck symbol in Turkey.
Eskinazi and Sayinsoy are an inspiration for women interested in glass arts, which initially didn’t seem to be a suitable profession for women. Eskinazi said: “Traditionally there were no women glassblowers. When glassblowing started to become an art form with more artistic glass objects being made, we began to see women taking up the craft by blowing glass.”
While exhibiting their works overseas, the trailblazers share their artistry and cultural heritage. They also taught at Turkey’s Mimar Sinan Fine Arts University. “We are an example for [our students] about what they can do and what they can achieve. We showed them that women have a place in glassblowing,” said Eskinazi. Moving forward, they have produced a line of recycled glass designs and want to engage the community for a more sustainable future.
Eskinazi shared: “Joy and happiness are the core focus in our products as that is our philosophy in life. When you enjoy your life, you genuinely spread love and joy in everything you do.”
“Joy and happiness are the core focus in our products as that is our philosophy in life. When you enjoy your life, you genuinely spread love and joy in everything you do.” – Gamze Araz Eskinazi
Adapted from the series Remarkable Living (Season 4). Watch full episodes on CNA, every Sunday at 8.30pm.