THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – Gaziantep second week

… I come back to Gaziantep on Monday morning, check into the hotel and go to work immediately.

Nusret has already made all frames during the Bayram holiday even. What an enthusiasm!

We start to break the marble I have brought, with hammer and hardie. Since Roman times this is the traditional way of breaking stone into small tesserae. It gets you more or less even sided cubes but not with such straight edges like the machine cut tesserae one can buy in the craft shops. The unregular shapes of hand cut tesserae add liveliness to a mosaic which is an important feature in my designs.

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Tuesday is all day stone cutting too.

At our stone cutting area we sit quite close together and work with silent joy. Stone, like fabric, has one direction in which it breaks more even then in the other directions. If we find this side of the stone and manage to let our hammers hit the marble precisely over the blade of the hardie the stone breaks beautifully straight. This is a skill I would like to train myself in in the coming weeks.
But in the evening my right arm hurts.

Wedneday – cutting stones. My arm still hurts. I change to a lighter hammer, because I fear to damage the tendons in my arm due to the unusual movement and the weight of the hammer.
In the afternoon my telephone rings just at the moment when my arm starts to hurts more and I am asking myself if I can do this for much longer.
….on the phone is Mustafa Salih – my first mosaic teacher from Ankara. After talking to him about the pain in my arm – I have a hydraulic stone cutting machine on the way from Gemlik at the Marmara Sea to Gaziantep. I can not believe this amount of willingness to help and fast action that I have experienced so far.

Thursday we go to see the original fishes in the Zeugma Museum in Gaziantep. Tahir the hairdresser and Nusret’s apprentice too joins us. He has made a beautiful copy of the gypsy girl mosaic.
I have the impression he sees the original in the museum the first time. I am surprised he did not go to see the original during the year he worked on his own version of it.

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Friday morning we start glueing the first tesserae down onto the canvas with white wood glue – a great moment.

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In the afternoon, the machine arrives with the Kargo for incredible 36 Lira, unbelievably cheep for a 50kg machine!

Happily we take it in use – Nusret and Tahir love it and so is Nusret’s oldest grand son.

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Friday night I leave back to Ankara. Tahir’s family comes to say good bye. His father, who is a taxi driver, takes me to the airport. They had invited me the night before to their roof top  where they spend the nights as their houses are made out of concrete and become too hot to sleep in during Gaziantep summers. Tahir’s mum is an incredible cook and roof top gardener. I was lucky to see one of her plants opening her flowers with the rising of the moon that night and eat her yummy soups.

I have two new families now – Nusret’s and Tahir’s!

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