Saturday, January 10, 2015

Chez Galip Pottery, Cappadocia, Turkey

My guide, Mehmet Buyukata, ( when I expressed interest in the culture, craft and art of Cappadocia Region told me that pottery making was an ancient skill by which men were judged.  It was expected that men knew how to make at least a basic clay pot.
He took me to Chez Galip Pottery where the tradition of fine pottery making has been passed down through the generations.  I was given a chance to use the foot pedalled turning wheel and make my first bowl.  It was a little wonky looking.  The potter finished it, so it actually looked like the real thing.
Once the shape is made of the clay which is special to this local region it would be left to dry for something in the range of 60 or more days. Then the pottery is painted and glazed and kilned.  The glaze is the layer that is fused to the vitreous clay through firing. One of the oldest glazes was simple ash. Today ceramic glazes commonly contain silica, the main glass former, and various metal oxides like sodium, potassium and calcium.
 I actually met the master himself on his way to being filmed. All around the shop were articles and pictures of him with various dignitaries as his work is renowned throughout Turkey and beyond.
His assistant spoke English well, explaining everything to me such that I understood most of what I was told.  There was no need to buy anything but after all that experience and education I really wanted to. Obviously that's part of the process but my guide explained they're happy enough just to show you their work and process because they're proud of their school, it's advertisement and  brings them business for sure.
 My problem was that to buy pottery would be to break one of my  rules of travel, avoid buying  breakables. I have never fully mourned the sitar I bought in India but broke on the plane flight home.  Yet I loved these vases and thought, maybe just a little one. Of course I bought one, that wasn't as small as a wise man would choose but at least wasn't one of their bigger works either.
Now  I will have to buy a hard suitcase to bring back the loot. They were willing to ship it but I figured no, it was easier to get a hard case since I really didn’t have room in my carry on bag for the carpet I’d bought in Istanbul.  Sultans never had these problems when they went shopping. They had an army of servants to deal with the messy details.
Chez Galip was a wonderful experience.  Many artisans work there producing pottery.  The master has trained  his own family and continues to train students.  The piece I finally chose was a vase made with the Chez Galip family design. What better way to remember a truly enjoyable time in Cappadocia.  


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