I’ve seen ceramic arts studios in many places, from airy classrooms to home garages to outdoor patios, but I was amazed to see that modern artisans in Cappadocia use caves. Yes, those elegant displays of Turkish ceramics found in museums often originated in a region where artisans over the ages have hollowed out rooms in a long low hill of compacted volcanic tuff. The studio’s entry from the street takes visitors through an open-air courtyard with trees, potted plants, and benches for chatting. But entering the hill is sort of a hobbit experience. Room after room connecting, changing directions, all windowless, walls and shelving filled with vibrant shapes and forms.
Some of my readers have asked me to describe what a tourist would see in these cave studios. So, I’m mounting a lot of pictures and suggesting several Online sources to help create an armchair experience for you.
Signage along the road let us know we were headed in the right direction, past the Fairy Caves and Love Valley, to Sultans Ceramics. We chose the ancient gallery of Mr. Zeki, a family owned business for many generations.
Arriving rather late in the day, we entered the mouth of the cave-store-studio in daylight hours and exited in the dark. But sunlight outside made no difference inside, of course, since all the rooms used electric lights.
Creating pottery designs
Rooms of every possible shape meandered through the hillside of tuff. Some were lit to produce a golden glow and others were lit brilliantly to show the vibrant hues of gleaming ceramic surfaces. An enchanting environment.
I knew I wanted to take home a favorite piece, but the choices were staggering. Some rooms contained ceramics that were very light and much more expensive than the other rooms, suitable ceramics for the serious collector. Visually, however, I could see little difference in the beauty of the designs and glazing for the slightly heavier and more utilitarian pieces. If you go to the Sultans Ceramics website, you can order directly from Turkey and save the work of hauling pottery through airports.
If I had to do the preparations for my Turkey trip all over again, I’d carefully study the TCF website. The Turkish Cultural Foundation provides accessible information on a myriad of pertinent subjects: Archaeology, architecture, fine arts, traditional arts, ceramic arts, textile arts, carpets and kilims, lifestyle, culinary arts, music, performing arts, literature, philosophers, military, general, and nature. Enjoy!