Category Archives: Crafts

Dyeing in Indigo

dye demoB

On Monday Hilary went on the first Craft Club excursion of the new season – a dye demoAvisit 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.  MyOsman-Can-2 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 Osman-Can-3tartar 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.

dye demoDHere you can see the result though, really, the internet can’t do justice to these wonderful, deep colours.


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!


Felt Making in Tire

My-scarfOur Craft club went to Tire where we had arranged with Arif Cön, one of the very famous felt makers in Turkey to have our felt workshop.  We gathered at 09:30 and divided ourselves into two cars to make the trip.  There were nine of us in total.

Arriving at the workshop we were offered tea and those of us who had not bought our own silk to use were given a choice of scarves.  The pattern I originally wanted to make was not available in a suitable weight for the technique so I settled for a paisley scarf in blues and purples.

We were shown how to pluck the wool and lay it, first on the mat then, having spread the scarf over that layer, onto the scarf itself.  Everyone, of course, had quite a different idea of what they wanted to achieve so there were  a variety of directions to the creative effort.

Once the wool was laid onto both sides of the fabric, we watched it all being sprinkled with soapy water then rolled up in the plastic mat and put into a pounding machine.  Traditionally the mat would be pressed with feet and rolled around – the machine takes some of the hard work out of it.

Even more so for us.  We went for lunch whilst the machine worked its magic…

Back at the workshop our work was carefully removed from the machine and unrolled.  We had the opportunity to add more wool and correct minor flaws in our concept before it got resprinkled, rolled up into the mat and put back into the machine.

We were then taken out for tea…  Or rather we were directed to an extraordinarily pleasant park area with a number of tea gardens.  We strolled around for a while (during our stroll I discovered that it is acacia that makes me sneeze) admiring the scenery then had a glass of tea before heading back to the studio.

We claimed our scarves, settled our bills and headed for home.  The instructions were to wash the finished work at 30%, subjecting them to a spin cycle should we wish the felt to shrink further.  I carefully washed mine by hand in cold water.  Quite a lot of dye came out.  When the water ran clear, I took it up to the roof to dry on the line…  I was quite happy with the final result.

Soap Opera – a tale of too many cooks

view-from-the-gardenThe Selçuk Craft club (at least those of us who were free on a Sunday) travelled to Kapıkırı koyu to watch soap being made.  This is an annual ritual in the villages where nothing goes to waste – it makes good use of the oil which is not of the best quality.  Five of us fitted quite comfortably into the car and made our way to the village.  The road by Lake Bafa has finally been made up and, although there is some loose gravel in places, it’s a huge improvement on the mud bath with occasional explosions we’ve experienced in the past.

pouring-the-oilThe soap was on the go by the time we arrived.  The soap making involved a great many people, all of whom were advising all of the others (and often giving contradictory advice).  One of our number had bought along 5 litres of olive oil and that was set going in a separate cauldron…

The basic method is to pour the oil into a cauldron partly filled with water and to mixing-the-lyeheat it.  Caustic soda is then mixed with hot water and added.  Everything is then stirred.  Eventually the soap thickens and lies on top of the water at which point it is skimmed off and poured into a mould to set.

Scent-for-soapThe only ‘additive’ was fresh bay leaves – used to ‘flavour’ the water that was mixed with the lye and also used, briefly, to stir the mix.

This whole process takes quite a long time (the boiling goes on for at least two hours – often more).  Various ingredients are added as the process progresses.  More water – more lye – more water – more lye.  The original quantity of oil appears to be a given and the other ingredients are added in order to achieve the required ‘set’.

lunchWe were provided with a delicious lunch whilst the village soap cooled and our own soap was still boiling.  More women came up from the village.  More advice was given and passionately debated.  Whilst we were eating, our soap began to set.  But, sadly, the first batch was found to be faulty.  Oil was coming off it as well as water.  It was taken from the mould and put back into the cauldron for further boiling and saponification.  The problem, we were told, was ‘too many Kaptan’.too-many-cooks

Our soap was cooling nicely when we left.  The village soap was still in the cauldron, being tended by several of the women.

When it is set, our soap will be cut into bars for us to share.  It does take a while to cure, to be  certain that all the lye that went into it has come out.  But we will have a supply of excellent quality, pure soap – enough to last us at least a year.