Pottery is a long tradition of Turkey, that is deeply rooted into it’s culture. As I’ve mentioned before, the story goes that if a man cannot make a pot, than he is not fit to be a husband. If the man cannot sell pottery to support his family than he is not capable of raising a family. Our tour guide took us to a family run pottery place near Göreme, to show us how the pottery is made. The owner gave us a nice tour of the place, showed us how a pot was made, and then painted, and told us about the clay and the positive community aspects of the factory. The point of doing this whole show for us was to persuade us to buy some pottery. It nearly worked, Jeff toyed with the idea of buying a beautiful wine pitcher, but we decided we were to young and nomadic to have a 400€ wine server.
The pottery is spun on a kick-wheel, which requires no electricity. The potter kicks the base of the wheel, which then rotates, allowing the potter to work a pot. Jeff’s father, Fred, has actually made two of these in his life since his mother used to make pottery. It is tricky because the wheel has to be well balance so the place where the clay is stays centered. If the wheel wobbles so will the pot.
While Turkish pottery does all the normal pottery forms, plates, bowls, and vases, the piece that is different is the wine pitchers. The wine pitcher has a very uniquely shape, it has a normal base and spout, but the body of the pitcher is a hollowed circle. The purpose is that the pitcher would be held on the shoulders of servants, who would then simply lean forward to pour the wine. The production of the body of the pitcher is very difficult, and it is joked that the man who can make these gets to have two wives. In order to make one, the potter makes a high walled vase, and then basically pulls the walls down to the base, creating the required doughnut. While this sounds easy, the walls have to be thin, which makes the clay more sensitive and more likely to warp or break.
This particular pottery shop called itself a school, which seems to be a trick in some industries to get cheap labor and to seem more philanthropic. The school taught the students two kinds of designs, their family design and then the more traditional Turkish design. Both designs are complex and full of repeating small detailed elements. The traditional turkish design is a repeat of patterns, with small window boxes of animals or people dispersed throughout it. The traditional colors are red from the natural clay, red dye, green dye, and black. This school also did the traditional pattern, but in modern colors, which was a white-on black color scheme. The family design was a little large than the traditional, but full of colors. The interesting thing about the painters was that they had to do several coats of colors to get a vivid effect, so they use a pointillism method to keep track of which colors were used where and to control the outcome when they faded colors into one another.
This part of the tour was a lot more interesting to me than the previous parts. I really enjoyed hearing about the region and the formation of the fairy chimneys, but this was more dynamic. We could see the whole process of these pieces, and the complexity is more readily relatable.
Our last day in Göreme was one that Jeff and I won’t forget for a long time to come…