So, WHAT'S Katie up to???

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tales from Turkey 2011, #1

Time to stop procrastinating and get down to the serious work of daily writing.....

I arrived safe and sound in Istanbul on September 13 and zoomed down here to beautiful Avanos in the heart of Cappadocia, where I began my annual clay sabbatical on the 15th.
Since I've been thinking "tiles" lately, wondering what on earth I can do with my own kitchen backsplash, I began by doing up some 6" terracotta pieces with whimsical (read: juvenile) images.

The designs are intentionally very simple, using the very gritty red clay, white slip, and some thickly applied copper oxide (which will remain black on firing).  Carving and sgraffito in this clay is rough at best, because the clay is so coarse; so keeping the designs simple is necessary.  This is the same clay used for the güveç pots that must withstand high and very uneven temperatures when cooking the traditional Turkish meat and veggie stew over open fires. The coarse grog (bits of previously fired clay, rather like sand or gravel) 'opens' up the clay body to allow expansion & shrinkage with heat without cracking. These are extremely durable pots, and the clay would make for tough tiles.  However, I'm not sure I'd want that coarse a texture on my kitchen walls.  I might...... but haven't decided yet.

It's hard not to be influenced by the traditional Hittite designs, like the stag, when doing these.  The designs are everywhere; and I find it hard to call up shapes and images from back home when I'm here surrounded by all this ancient artwork.

At the risk of offending my Turkish friends, some of whom have very beautiful homes, I can't help but alter the perspective when sketching these great houses.  There's barely a square corner or a straight line to be found -- surely a renovator's nightmare!  But every brick, every stone block, every roof tile simply oozes with character and wonderful textures, making these houses a wonderful subject for clay work of any sort.

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