Avanos Pottery Lessons

Before we left The States, when I was reading up on the main towns of Cappadocia, I got excited by the idea of the small city of Avanos.  This town of roughly 11,000 people is situated on the “Red River” (Kizilirmak), a body of water yielding a lovely red clay perfect for creating earthenware.  As a natural extension of this resource, the town has long been–since the time of the Hittites–a hub for potters.  Once I read about that in the guide books, I became hopeful that we could tap into the abundance of ceramicists and take some red clay into our own hands.

Two weeks ago, we headed over to Avanos and spent some time walking around the shops and studios, trying to get a bead on the place.  Those storefronts that had hawkers out on the street were an immediate turnoff, and, while we were amused by the old crone whose schtick consisted of holding a huge clay pot over her head and crashing it to the ground, to show that it was unbreakable, we didn’t necessarily feel repeat return visits were merited, particularly after her finale consisted of asking me to step on a vase and then presenting its amazingly-intact state to all onlookers with a flourish and a “See, if the elephant didn’t break it, nothing will!”

Eventually we happened into a quiet shop where the owner, clearly a man of commerce—but even moreso a man of pottery—asked us each if we’d like to take a turn at the wheel.  He guided us through a few simple pinches and turns, ushering us towards a feeling of success.  At the end, of course, we bought a few items from his shop.  At the end, of course, we asked him if he ever gives private lessons.

He does.  Today, we headed over to Ertas’ (pronounced “Air-tash”) shop for the first formal instruction; somehow, in our making arrangements, he had understood that we wanted lessons for the kids only.  That actually is just fine, as, were he devoting an hour to the four of us, time at the wheel would be rushed and less fruitful.  So we adults settled back and enjoyed the opportunity for our kids (which, as parents know, is pretty much the same as enjoying it for your own self).

Haakon was very excited, as he’s crazily tactile; fortunately, Ertas’ constant compliments of “Super!” and “Bravo!” didn’t diminish the lad’s enthusiasm.  Initially, Allegra was less gung-ho, but by the end, she’d surprised herself with her progress and promise.  For kids who have been largely without peer interaction or the activities they’re used to, today’s reality was better than any guide book’s abstraction.

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12 Responses to Avanos Pottery Lessons

  1. lime says:

    wow! looks like you found a winner. the look of the shop itself is so lovely with those white walls setting off the beautiful pottery. the smile on his face as he is leading the kids too is clearly genuine. can you adopt me so i could have lessons as your child?

  2. Jazz says:

    No she can’t adopt you, Lime. She’s going to adopt ME!

  3. Kirsten says:

    I know what you can give me for Chrismtas…!! ;)

  4. kmkat says:

    Look at you, all techy with the slide show and everything! Looks like the kids had fun — which, as you say, is pretty much the same as having fun yourself.

  5. James and Eileen says:

    That’s look like it was fun! Do the kids get to glaze and fire the pots too?

  6. Kurt Mead says:

    Tactile, indeed! Will you return for more lessons or was this a one shot deal?

  7. Deborah says:

    Big sigh of relief knowing that you’ve had some fun. Enjoyed the slide show – pretty polished potting by those two!

  8. Byron says:

    @ James and Eileen–The pots are going to be fired and then “painted”. We are a bit unclear on whether this means glazed or just painted on the bisqueware. While Ertas’ English is very good there are times the words chosen can mean many things. We’ll find out when that part of the lessons progresses. He did say that one day we could head out to his kilns, 2 km outside of the town, and see them. That will be fun.

  9. Byron says:

    @kurt–there will be more lessons. In the loose fashion in which much of Turkey works we need to call him on Fridays to see if he will be available on either Saturday or Sunday, in the morning or afternoon. We really like the town so it will be fun to head there every week.

  10. Jocelyn says:

    Deborah, you absolute dear: give a few more huge sighs of relief, as we’ve had much fun in many ways…more and more all the time, in fact. Yesterday, for me, was the day when I thought to myself, “I’ve moved beyond just thinking that the lows are really low and the highs are really high into something broader: that there are moments when I love this place.”

  11. Rory says:

    Hello, I was wondering what the lesson cost and what the name of the store was, I am planning a trip to this region of Turkey this summer.

  12. I searched Google for ceramicists and I found your blog :-) I like your blog, well done!

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