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THE AYVALIK MOSAIC – Gaziantep first week

…..coming back to Nusret Bey … he worked for 30 years as a security guard at the archeological site of Zeugma. So he saw a lot of the mosaics being lifted. He actually was involved in lifting mosaics himself which means he really knows the structure of ancient mosaics very well. Through this he came to make mosaics himself.


Mosaic by Nusret Özdemir


And this most experienced master agreed over the phone to work with me on the Ayvalik mosaic!!!

Our first meeting was quit daring for the two of us. Thankfully Prof Görkay came along to translate. But still it was difficult to talk about the idea, the techniques –  that Nusret Bey uses and the techniques I thought of using.

But I liked Nusret and his workshop in one of the less affluent areas of Gaziantep and left the meeting with the vague feeling that it will work out somehow … the most difficult part for me was to talk about payment. I had never before payed somebody to work with me and in this case it was especially tricky as Nusret had two roles – being an usta – the Turkish word for “master” and at the same time a worker carrying out the work that I conceived, designed and planned.

But we immediately set to work after Nusret’s technique, which I hardly understood in the conversation – and I came along and watched and it slowly made sense:

First we bought wooden slats and MDF board and had it sawn to certain measures in the neighborhoods carpentry


… then we went to buy white cotton material in an interesting workshop where two men made beautifully quilted duvet covers


…. then Nusret set to work in his own workshop. He reinforced the MDF boards with the slats,

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…. painted the fabric with white glue and let it dry to be quite stiff


… fitted the fabric onto the MDF boards like a canvas


… and glued the printout of the the fishes onto the canvas with a special shoemakers glue


And the gipsy girl always watched us.


After this preparatory work I went back to Ankara – and the neighborhood kids where posing with dog –

to pack up my own atelier during the Seker Bayram (this big islamic holiday at the end of the fasting period Ramadan).

I had to pack up because my husband got posted to Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and we have to leave Turkey! What a development!

During the three days I was often sighing how crazy it is to ship a mosaic atelier around the world!



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