Pottery

Since I slept poorly last night due to paroxysmal abdominal cramping and woke up this morning with acute gastrointestinal tract hypermobility, I decided against an extended hike. I opted instead to visit nearby town of Avanos, known for its earthenware pottery.

Avanos is a larger town than Goreme, and is easily reachable from Goreme by public bus. Avanos straddles the Kizilirmak river, the longest river in Turkey.

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I opted not to take a river tour in a Venetian-style gondola.

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There are numerous pottery studios in town, most located near the potters' monument (which, interestingly enough, also features weaving).

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Having no idea which one to visit, I entered the first one I came across. After watching a pot-throwing demonstration, the propietor asked if anyone wanted to try. Given that I did some pottery in high school and like getting my hands dirty, I volunteered. I was able to make something vaguely pot-shaped with only minimal assistance (he kicked the wheel for me), but I ended up getting much more than my hands dirty. I spent the next ten or so minutes rinsing clay out of my clothes, which was mostly successful; luckily it was a sunny day and all my clothes are quick-drying.

While I was wandering around with damp clothes, I stumbled upon the pottery studio of Hasan Bircan. 

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We spoke for a while in broken French, as he speaks little English and I speak even less Turkish. His signature style combines brown stoneware clay with an accent of white porcelain, and he gave me a demonstation of a small pot made in this style. He starts with a lump of brown stoneware. Next, he rolls out a few thin cylinders of porcelain and presses them to the outside of the lump. He then throws a pot normally, which, when finished, is completely brown in color. Finally he scrapes the pot gently with a metal scraper, revealing an undulating white line which spirals up and down the work. Here are three unfired pots made in this way (the one is the middle is the one he made while I was there):

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And here is how they look after they are fired:

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Here are a few photos from his shop:

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He encouraged me to take photos of the blackened pots, which are done in a Raku style.

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I expressed my regret that I could not buy anything, but if you are ever in Avanos looking for pottery, I highly recommend you seek out his shop.

I returned to Goreme in the late afternoon, but I was not done with pottery for the day. After washing my clothes to get out the remaining clay, I set out in search of pottery kebab. Pottery kebab is a Cappadocian specialty where the meal (usually involving meat) is cooked in a clay pot. It is brought to your table while still aflame:

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The top portion of the pot is removed with a hammer, and the contents are poured on a plate over rice. It was rather tasty.

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By Ross in Travel on Sat 14 June 2014. Tags: Turkey

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