Recently, renowned local glass artist Ayşen Savcı made an article contribution to Atdda about the history of artistic glass making and how it connects with Mezopotemia Istanbul. After this contribution was published I had the pleasure of meeting Ayşen at her studio to learn more about her techniques and to find out some of her theories and inspirations behind her craft.
Ayşen's studio, located in the trendy Galatasaray neighborhood is a gorgeous modern facility with a tasteful showroom and an outstanding view of the Sultanahmet skyline. You can see how one would be inspired to be creative in this environment.
We chatted for a while over coffee, we discussed her history and our common love of all things culinary. What I was shocked to learn from Ayşen is that she has only been a glass artist or any artist for that matter for 3 years.
Before exploring her creative side she was a senior level business woman in both Sweden and Turkey. But at the age of fifty, after being delayed at the airport as a result of the Eyjafjallajökull Icelandic volcano (how to pronounce it) Ayşen felt something would change in her life. Sure enough after that she had a surge of creativity start to burst from within her, one could compare to a volcanic eruption of artistic ability she had no idea was even in her. These, she told me were two of the reasons she named her studio, Studio Volcano. The third being of course that volcanic glass is the only naturally occurring glass. So what could be a more fitting name?
Ayşen and I walked around the showroom and she gave me brief descriptions of the various techniques she uses in her kiln casting. We looked at sand casting pieces where sand is used as the medium for the mould rather than plaster in the classic kiln casting. She had examples of enamel or painted glass as well as different fusions of glass and paint between.
Ayşen explained to me that the reasons she has been able to learn so many glass techniques in such a short period of time is due to meeting and taking lessons from one of Turkey's few prominant glass artists, Ms. Tülin Yiğit Akgül, and having the great fortune of being near one of the premier art and glass educational facilities in the world. It is located right here in Istanbul it’s name in Turkish is Cam Ocagi or Glass Furnace.
Before heading back to the workshop we talked about some of her inspirations which could be recognized in her paintings. People and locations that during her travels have touched her. Some of the most notable were African renditions and the waterway in Stockholm. And of course, Istanbul.
Finally, Ayşen walked me through the many steps involved in making one single piece. I was blown away by the amount of time and precision that must go into it. You really understood why glass art nearly became a lost art. Back when these techniques were the only way to make glass pieces literally only kings and people of great wealth could afford them. Mass production was not an option. Not until the onset of glass blowing. After that artisans moved to decorative pieces by blowing. But time was not kind to cast glass art and eventually it all but died away. It was revived during the art nouveau period in the 60’s in France and in the USA and has continued to slowly grow. But to understand the amount of time and technical precisions that go into a piece some of which can take up to a month to finish, one understands why their are not so many glass artists working with these techniques.
Once Ayşen walked me through the various steps, chemical processes and temperature and time guides she must use to make a piece I understood why she has to be absolutely precise as an artists. One error and all that work is gone. Considering she has to have an American glass product (Bullseye) shipped to Sweden and then carry it back in her suitcase, that would be tragic!
At the end of the event we made a little glass plate for myself. I have to say, I was really intimidated! Mostly I think because it is extremely impressive how she creates her pieces. And the same can be said for the amount of drive to learn this craft. But Ayşen walked me through it and in the end I have a cute little piece to show for it. And an amazing amount of new knowledge on glass art. It was a very rewarding afternoon. One I would happily recommend to others interested in art or looking for a unique piece for their home or a gift.
For more information:
Studio Volcano | TomTom Mah. Yusuf Ziya Şok. Belvu Apt. No:14 Beyoğlu 34433 İstanbul