We went with several other friends to a copper facility here in Istanbul called Hak Art. It is a family owned business and they let us have a tour of the entire place and then we could buy their wares.
Several times in Asia we had this experience too. We saw where our rice wraps were baked in the hot sun in Vietnam or candy hand wrapped in Cambodia and Vietnam…or clothes made in pretty much all the countries.
Before we left Washington, DC, there were several stores we saw that had art pieces made in Turkey. Hak Art is one of the places that make it! It was fun to see the other side of the consumer chain—to think that the decorations in our homes came from a small Turkish town where someone’s brother or grandpa lovingly pounded it into shape with a worn hammer. We just see the price tag and decide whether to buy it or not. (ironically, that price tag was put on by someone’s grandpa too!)
The first sign that we were not in the United States on this tour was the fact that we were walking in the factory and literally standing next to the welder and the kiln and there were no safety precautions other than the ones that we imposed on ourselves! In fact, with all the noise and sparks I only saw two guys with safety gear—one with ear plugs and the other with safety glasses. I had to laugh because the one with glasses on had on clear glasses but he was welding. If you have ever welded you know you wear extra dark protective gear to protect your eyes. (I remember when we were kids we would take the welding helmet at the farm and use it to look at the sun so it didn’t hurt our eyes...maybe it still did, who knows). But this guy must be completely blind by now.
It was fascinating to me to see the many stages of making something as simple as a copper mug. Today they were making mugs for Williams-Sonoma and all of them were stamped to show that. The mugs started as a smooth, flat plate and were then molded into a rough cup shape with a lip by a huge press Then guys took those and put them on a lathe and used force to bend the metal to the shape they wanted. They were so fast and talented it was fun to watch. I wondered if the men using the hammers were ambidextrous or if they just had one really huge muscular arm and one wimpy one! HAHA
Then we went to see the forge area where they heated larger bits of metal and two men (we found out they were father and son) stood on either side of the anvil and pounded in turn. It was the same rhythm every time. One guy had a larger hammer so they made a different sound. The music must keep them from hitting each other (I wondered how long it took for them to find that rhythm) That is when you truly hate when your colleague takes the day off! You have to work with the new guy that beats to a different drum—literally. The red hot metal would come out and tap.bang.tap.bang.tap.tap.tap.bang.tap.bang.tap.tap.tap was the song. Each time was the same and the piece was perfectly formed when they were done.
It was a fun trip, well worth it. Lady Hiva came home with a serving set: a large tray, a bowl and a pitcher that she has displayed in the dining room (because there are no other decorations in the house yet). So next time you pick something up in the store to buy, take a moment to thank the people who worked hard to get it to you.