The Art of Bakircilik

The Art of Bakircilik



Many copperware items were widely used in the Ottoman Empire and these were the products of an extraordinary workmanship. Ottoman copperware was rich in variety, form, motif and manufacturing techniques, and a rich culture has shaped the characteristics of the art to enable a versatile use in everyday life.

Copper is a malleable material with a melting point of 1000 degrees Celsius, hence it is relatively easy to shape compared to most other metals. For this reason it has been used to make everyday objects such as pans, trays, cups and tea sets in Anatolia for centuries. The Anatolian city of Gaziantep is still regarded as one of the prime locations producing copperware items utilizing traditional Turkish Techniques. Traditional copperware techniques have remained unchanged for centuries.


Forming and Shaping the Copper Item

Forming and Shaping the Copper Item



One of the most difficult and highly regarded traditional Turkish techniques involved is forming the items by using a hammer (also known as "dovme" or "cekicleme"). In this technique, blocks of raw copper are heated until they melt before being poured into special casts. The resultant flat blocks are then pressed under rolling press machines to create copper sheets in different thicknesses. The craftsman then creates the desired form and shape by using only a hammer and anvil by beating the design using his physical power and artistic skills to create the most beautiful and striking copperware items. However, this is only the beginning.


Creating the Motifs on the Copper Item

Creating the Motifs on the Copper Item



The item has only taken its form and shape in this process and is far from being finished. The artist must create beautiful motifs on the item using a steel chisel to carve the motifs directly onto the copper item. The chisel is known as a "kalem" which means pen as it has different shaped tips such as pointed, flat, star shaped or other geometric shapes to help "draw" the motif. The craftsman hits the "kalem" continually with the hammer. This whole process can take hours if not days for the craftsman to create the motifs on the formed copper items. The motifs applied on the copper item feature geometric figures such as triangles, circles, squares and stars as well as living objects such as flowers, birds and trees. Depending on the design, some parts of the item may be coated with a silver nitrate mix to create a white glossiness.