COMES FROM EARTH, GOES BACK TO EARTH: GLASS

TURKS PUT A STAMP IN GLASS ART WITH THEIR BLUE BEADS AND NIGHTINGALE’S EYES.

In the course of the years when electricity was not available in many places, a teacher takes his primary school student to a glass furnace in Görece, a village of İzmir. In the furnace, where mainly kerosene lamps and blue beads are crafted, the craft of kerosene lamp affects him greatly as he studies under it every night. The fact that he examines all glasses he encounters and collects the moldable ones started at that time. The child brings up and becomes a successful textile businessman; however, his mind is still busy with this mystical substance. He visits all glass furnaces in Turkey, and although he cannot do anything, he watches the glass artists and takes lessons from worldwide glass artists.

Now, it is time for Yılmaz Yalçınkaya to start his own glass story as a glass artist. He started the foundation of the glass furnace “Cam Ocağı Vakfı”. The foundation is the greatest and most well-supported spot for glass art in Turkey. 35 thousand primary school students visit the foundation annually. They witness the miracles of glass as Yılmaz Yalçınkaya does during his childhood. These young visitors of the foundation make their own plates from broken glass pieces and beads, they figure out what hot glass is something like and experience how it shapes. Furthermore, local and foreign artists come to the foundation and teach.

Glassblowing has been done since Seljuqs 
Although there is no other example of the foundation in Turkey and even in the world, the methods used to make works of glass do not change. The most known methods are blowing, scooping, fusing, casting and shaping with moulds. The different method in our country is glassblowing method which has been used since the days of Seljuqs, Artuqids and Ottomans. In glassblowing process, the work starts with taking hot melt pasty glass as soft and colored as honey from 1200 degrees furnace with a stick. In order to prevent hot melt glass from moving, the stick is cooled in water kept in a scoop made from sour cherry tree and during this period the air blown through the stick makes glass expand. Of course, the period is not easy as it’s told. The story of Mehmet Kömürcü, one of the glass artists in the foundation, approves how difficult the process is. To get “master” title was possible for him to do this work zealously from the age of 13 to 32. He says he gets the profession not by doing it constantly but having the ability inherited from his father. Perhaps, this is because why he feels happy after finishing a work of glass.

The story of glass starts with sand
Glass has been in our lives as one of the most favorite materials for the last 5 thousand years. As you can create unimagined works of glass, you can also smash it into millions of pieces with a small mistake. Though it seems incomprehensible, the origin of glass is sand. Sometimes it is a mirror, reflects you what you see, sometimes it is a lens, makes you see far-away things, and sometimes it is a cover to keep your best moment in a frame. When you begin to consider the importance of glass is in our daily lives, you need a long period of time. However, you don’t have long time to see the heart of this miracle as you will regret when you go to a furnace and meet it.  

The blue beads of Nazarköy…
Nazarköy is a village located in Kemalpaşa province in İzmir. The works of glass are blue beads. In the village, “Nazar Boncuğu Festivali”, a festival for blue beads, is held during the second week of May every year. In the village covered with blue beads everywhere, old and young, women and men, almost everybody possess a part of blue bead work. And there is no one apart from them who knows how they can make their furnace reach up to 1200 degrees by burning pine firewood only.

Nightingale’s Eye
Nightingale’s Eye is formed by spiral bonding of cold glass sticks with hot glass sticks. The origin of the works goes back to Mevlevi Dervish Mehmet Dede who started a glass furnace in Paşabahçe with the help of Ottoman sultans after having an education about glass art in Venice in the 18th century. The twisted lines obtained by spiraling show the ability and style of the artist.