On Monday Hilary went on the first Craft Club excursion of the new season – a visit to Osman Can’s studio in Çamlık where we were treated to a demonstration of indigo dyeing, a guided tour, tea and cake.
All of the wool used in the carpets is handspun and coloured with natural dyes. The spinning takes place in various studios scattered around the country. The spun wool comes to Çamlık for dyeing and making into carpets. We were shown indigo, madder, wallnut shells and a kind of daisy that produces the yellow colour. My friend in Ireland thinks this might be dyers’ camomile (Anthemis tinctoria), which makes sense. The different colours are made by use of these dyes in combination. They dye the amount of wool needed for each carpet, ensuring that the finished product is perfectly consistent (and also avoiding any waste).
We saw a vat prepared with solar heated water to which Mehmet added cream of tartar then indigo. A huge hank of handspun wool was lowered into this on a winch then pulled out several times so that the strands could be rearranged before it was dipped again to ensure that the dye took evenly. Finally the colour was tested by being dipped into bleach.
After the dyeing we were taken through to where the carpets are woven. The knots are made so fast you can hardly see the weavers’ hands moving. The intricate patterns are displayed on a chart from which they can be accurately knotted. The patterns are taken from historical examples in museums, though there are also some modern designs being created here. After each row is knotted the threads are beaten down and then trimmed with special scissors which can be adjusted for different depths of pile.
Then we went through to the display area where many wonderful carpets were on show. By this point both the cameras I had with me had run out of battery so I had to resort to my phone!