About Me

My work

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My work began as a scholar of glazes with special effects, investigating ancient techniques methods and concepts. Color spectrums of ancient Islamic luster ware continually mesmerized me. Therefore, I insisted on exploring the science behind them and reproduce artwork with similar effects. This lead me towards discovering crystalline glazes.

I was born in Germany and lived there for much of my early life before moving to Jordan. While there, I studied Visual Art and got introduced to technical aspects of ceramics by Professor Ali Haidar Al Badri.

At first, my studies focused on form. I made thousands of vases, cups, other wheel thrown forms, the purpose was to reach to the freedom of creating any shape my mind tells my body.

Influenced by my professor I performed thousands of experiments on different glaze formulas, aiming towards the development of a solid good understanding of glaze chemistry and the magic of temperature and its influence.

Traditional pottery in antiquity drove me to investigate luster ware influenced by “Raqqa ware” that reminded me of precious stones and the spectrum light reflections of their surfaces.

Through my years of research and experiment my knowledge in glazes for special effects glazes broadened, but I never lost the first desire to combine forms and colors that would give infinite life to the light and take the viewer on a journey by unleashing his imagination. In my work, I aim that form and glaze enhance each other with an emphasis on clarity and simplicity of line.

I started developing glazes that when applied on a form they occupy space and illuminates in relation to the surrounding. I am drawn to classical forms, forms that do not distract from the magic of the surface and at the same time encapsulate culture, history and traditions.

Through my forms the past gains life with contemporary interpretations, allowing me to merge both what is traditional with contemporary tools. My study of Islamic arts influenced my forms in creating unity in variety and variety in unity through the interaction with their surroundings.

Balance and harmony with their environment is essential where I aim to develop natural harmony with what is around them. The form directs the light and the eye some reflect, scatter or diffuse light, allowing the glaze to shape the perception of form.
    


Crystalline Pottery

   
Crystalline pottery is formed at 1300 degrees centigrade, combining science art and persistence, all lead to master the control of thermal reactions resulting the process of crystal growth. This process involves developing the chemical formula, controlling temperature curves and understand the nature of the clay used.
 
In simple words zinc saturated glazes are fired to their melting point allowing for the formation of zinc silicate crystals. Two main elements are essential in this process, the liquidity of the glaze and extensively long holding times at precise temperatures. This of course in addition to the correct chemical formula of the glaze.
 
The glazes are applied relatively thick forcing them to run of vertical surfaces but at the same time providing a liquid platform for the zinc silicate to grow in. This makes it essential to place pieces on catchers to collect the running glaze. After the kiln reaches the set temperature, the kiln is opened to allow rapid drop of temperature inducing the crystal growth process. Temperature is increased and decreased with long soaking times in between.
 
Several colorants are used to add desired effects and feelings to the glaze from those are copper, cobalt, nickel, manganese, rutile and more.
    

UPCOMING EVENTS

​​DION ART FESTIVAL AUGUST 2017
Crystals
by :

Cayden Zayne Abu-Arja


“Crystals.” he stated, “It takes a lot to grow a crystal that is not only magnificent aesthetically on its exterior, but is also built through pristine care, sturdy interior lattice compositions and its ability to attract strong chemical bonds to neighboring crystals in near vicinities.” My art teacher stressed the importance of crystals; crystals were and still are: his passion; afterall it is what he was best known for as an artist. As an art teacher, he saw potential within each and every one of his students, all twelve of us in his class to be exact. He acknowledged that each one of his students had a crystal to grow within them, and lucky enough for me, my calling (according to him) was to become his protege. His protege of ceramics and more specifically developing crystalline glazes. He sparked a growth in me, no one else could in that sense, a growth very much paralleled to one of a crystal. 

“A crystal must have a strong base to begin with”. Mr. Azzam is an Arab artist from Amman, Jordan (where I am from and went to school). He is active in the visual art field and respected in the Middle Eastern art scene. He has a high presence in the ceramic community as he is one of the few artists in the world today who is capable of doing what he does. His pieces include plates, glass installations and ceramics. He is best known for his pieces which are circular ceramics that are made out of clay that is fired. In addition of certain chemicals that react with one another in unpredictable chemical compositions to formulate crystals in rich pigments such as dark cobalt, deep indigo, and bright turquoise. His ceramic pieces are indeed unique due to their chemical compositions complexity and kiln firing techniques. All of which I was fortunate to learn by Mr. Aymen Azzam himself, because he was my teacher.  

“The environment” he told me, “crystals need ideal growing conditions to properly grow”. I loved the environment of his classroom; it was my go to escape room when I wanted a place to skip other classes. He curated a positive learning environment and a friendly space where his students could be productive and make art, while at the same time a place where we would all let loose and take a break. It was a perfect balance. He always sat in the same spot, the far right corner of the classroom, and at all times there was someone willingly approaching him, sitting for several minutes upholding conversations with laughter and cheerfulness involved. 

“Give crystals their own designated space” he noted, “It is important to give crystals the space they deserve.” He helped us find ourselves. We took inspiration from famous artists we extensively studied. We also took inspiration from each other as classmates. But he made it clear that we should always take the strongest inspiration from within ourselves, and to be able to do that, he knew we all needed our space. Our special little work space to call our own, to isolate ourselves and extract the best artistic imagination within us. I opted to work outside in a little garden our classroom had: the fresh air, sunlight and just general mood of bliss inspired me to create art.

“Time” he said, “you can not force a crystal to blossom on your time” he followed with reasoning that, “the crystal and only the crystal knows when it is ready”. He knew that as artists none of us had our heads screwed on straight at all times. So he would be willing to adjust deadlines for us or accept unfinished pieces for valid reasons. He also knew we stayed up all hours of the night working on art, for that reason he made a group chat for us to text him at 3 A.M with artistic concerns or crises and he never once did not reply. He gave us time by adjusting deadlines and gave us part of his time when he would reply late at night, and that made us all the better artists that we are today. 

“Each crystal is different” he said, “Not one crystal is similar to the next; different chemicals result in different colors, shapes and forms”, he emphasized, “this is what makes every crystal unique and stand out”.  He altered his teaching techniques from one student to another. He focused on what each student wanted to learn and was intrigued and passionate about. I would go home and research for hours on different forms of art making practices - such as creating crystals with borax solution or plaster casting an entire human - and honestly, at times he did not even know how to do them, but his response would always be, “I guess we are going to have to learn it together!”. 

“When crystals grow near each other, they intertwine their bonds together”. He told me, “crystals form a conglomerate, which means even though they group together to form a whole entity, they still remain distinct individual crystals.” Working everyday in the same classroom with eleven of my artistically talented classmates has helped me develop my skills in numerous different art form practices. Learning is in fact a give-and-take dynamic; as my peers and I all try to perfect our skills to the highest ability, whilst at the same time help one another reach our fullest potential by sharing tips with one another, so that we all excel together. I was the most experienced in ceramic and kiln firing, so I would willingly help those in my class who wanted to learn the skill. I helped my friend Hashem learn how to wedge clay and prepare it for firing and how to adjust the kilns’ settings appropriately for the measurements and criteria of his clay. Hashem then assisted me with oil painting, I was scared to even try painting let alone oil painting, and Hashem, being the Picasso of the classroom helped me enough where I was confident and willing to experiment even more with painting. I knew the proper terminology for that medium of art, the appropriate brushes to use to create certain desired stokes and the ability to differentiate between canvas textures to select a canvas suitable for my paintings.

“Acknowledge that you cannot control the outcome” he stated, “each crystal has a mind of it’s own and the final product is nowhere near possible to be predicted”. He would give us advice and constructive criticism but never tell us what to do. As artists, he knew it was important to instill in us our own self entitlement. We had our own free will in the classroom - as students we called all the shots. At times, he would intentionally give us bad artistic advice disguised as a compliment, as a test to see if we were blindly obeying him and applying his advice merely for the fact that he is grading us, or if we were opinionated and passionate enough to stick to our initial artistic intention. 

I would like to thank Mr. Aymen  for growing me into the crystal I am today. I am proud I was able to call Mr. Aymen Azzam my teacher. To be described as a protege by someone you look up to, is a form of motivation difficult to describe or parallel. And for that I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Aymen Azzam personally. This is directed to you. Thank you for being the strong base I needed to derive trustworthy, high quality artistic knowledge from. Thank you for providing me with a safe environment to express myself artistically. Thank you for allowing me to have my designated space to call my own to comfortably grow in. Thank you for giving me all the time I need to work at my own pace and march to my own beat. Thank you for encouraging us to embrace our differences and uniqueness as artists as we are truly valued and one of a kind. Thank you for being such an inspiring teacher to me and my classmates. Thank you for being an aspirational guiding mentor and teaching us one of the hardest lessons life has to offer which is that not everything is in our control, we live and we learn and just hope for the best. Thank you for personally believing in me, investing time and effort into me and pushing me to reach my fullest potential and achieve my biggest goals. Because of you, I am the artist I am today. Thank you sincerely.