Glass Unlimited – Made in Istanbul

Turkish glass from The Furnace and Paşabahçe where the glass traditions of the Mediterranean bridges the gap between east and west.

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The exhibition, shown at The Glass Factory from 14th of June 2014 to the 11th of January 2015, gives an overview of Turkish glassmaking, focusing on the role of the glass industry and its most prominent glass factory Paşabahçe and the emergence of the free studio glass artists.

The exhibition highlights four coherent themes that illustrate the various aspects of Turkish glass: The general outline of Turkish glass and its development; the foundation and development of Paşabahçe Glass Company and its role and production today; traditions and techniques that shaped Turkish glassmaking; Turkish studio glass – the independent artists.

The exhibition displays historical artefacts alongside contemporary objects produced by Paşabahçe Glass Company and independent Turkish artists. The exhibition will display show authentic commercials and various pictures to illustrate the development of Turkish glass in a broader context.

The general outline of Turkish glass and its development

In the earliest period of the glass industry in Anatolia the ancient processes of casting, press moulding and core molding were applied, which resulted in small, colourful glass products. During this period the first beads and bracelets were also made in Anatolia.

The most important products of the Byzantine period consist of the Early and Middle Byzantine specimens found at Sart, where the glass furnaces in the vicinity indicate the existence of an extensive local industry at one time. During the Byzantine period small quantities of plain glass were used in the windows of the more luxurious buildings and churches while, on the other hand, glass oil-lamps were widely used for lighting. Other glass objects that were produced were drinking vessels, bowls, goblets, bottles and spiral bracelets.

During the Ottoman period, the art of glass making was considerably advanced. The glass industry took particularly great strides in Istanbul after the conquest of the city. The industry seemed to have been centered in Istanbul with glass workshops producing a great variety of glassware at, for example, Egrikapi, Eyüp, Ayvansaray, Beykoz and Paşabahçe.

Glass craftsmen were imported from France during the reign of Selim III to learn certain glass-making techniques. An atelier in Beykoz, Istanbul was founded, and among the more popular and successful products of this workshop was Cesm-I Bülbül, a form of filigree ware.

In 1899 a workshop was founded on the site of the present Turkish glass factory Paşabahçe by Saul Modiano producing ware marked as “Fabbrica Vetrami di D. Modiano, Constantinople, which by 1902 was employing a workforce of 500.

Since then the Turkish glass industry has developed and today supplies a large-scale, global market.

The foundation and development of Paşabahçe Glass Company and its role and production today

With the foundation of the Republic, The Turkish glass industry was given new opportunities. The first national glass factory was founded on the slopes of the Bosphorus at Paşabahçe, not far from the site of other glass studios in 1934 by the approval of a parliamentary commission. This first factory, founded as the “Türkiye Siseve Cam Fabrikalari A. S.” by Is Bankasi was followed by a number of other corporations manufacturing glass of various kinds.

Paşabahçe Glass Company, especially in its foundation years, gathered many glass craftsmen from all parts of the country and developed into an important glass making center for the history of Turkish glass.

Ever since 1935, it has been performing the investment and production via the deployment of state-of-the-art technology in the glass industry as well as research and development activities to meet the entirety of essential requirements for glass products in the country.

As of the 1960s, Şişecam expanded its operations towards the global markets, growing incessantly in order to rank amongst the most prestigious glass producers of Europe and the world.
Şişecam is specialized in all the essential areas of glass making with its main divisions, namely “Glass Tableware”, “Glass Packaging”, “Flat Glass” and “Chemicals”. Glass Tableware Division operates under the brand name “Paşabahçe”, manufacturing soda-ash and crystal glass both hand mode and automatic production.

Paşabahçe Glass Industry and Trade Inc. started the production of glass tableware products made of soda-ash through manual production (hand-made) in 1935, and then in 1955 it initiated machine production (automatic), which is regarded as the initial phase in today’s automatic production technology. In 1974, the production of heat resistant glass was included.

Paşabahçe made its first exports in 1961. Between 1980 and 2000, Paşabahçe rapidly expanded its operations. The company opened new plants, incorporating the automatic production of soda, crystal and heat resistant glass products. During this period Paşabahçe also gave impetus to technological advancement geared towards quality and efficiency. Concerning automatically produced soda, crystal and heat resistant glass, the production is underway in plants located in Kırklareli, Mersin and Eskişehir; while the Denizli plant produces only hand-made products of both crystal and soda-ash glass.

By pursuing a sales- and marketing organization outside Turkey, and forming logistics hubs in Europe, Paşabahçe also initiated investments for production abroad in order to strengthen its position on a global scale. In this context, a glass tableware plant in Posuda, in the Russian Federation, was bought in 2003. Posuda Ltd. has attained full capacity of production on a new product range with the well-known Paşabahçe quality.

In mid-2004, a joint venture was launched for setting up a completely new automatic glass tableware plant in Bulgaria, Trakya Glass Bulgaria-EAD. This plant began its production a year later, and since then has been providing services to mostly Europe, notably to the Eastern European countries.

Today Paşabahçe produces glass even for the Swedish market, in collaboration with amongst others Orrefors Kosta Boda.

Traditions and techniques that shaped Turkish glassmaking

There are different traditions and techniques that have influenced Turkish glass making in various ways. The Turkish tea-tradition and different traditions concerning food and sweets, like Turkish delight, have given rise to various vessels focusing on these functions.

As an important part of Turkish culture, tea is the most commonly consumed hot drink, despite the country’s long history of coffee consumption. Offering tea to guests is part of Turkish hospitality. Tea is most often consumed in households, shops and mostly kıraathane, which is social congregation of Turkish men. Despite its popularity, tea became the widely consumed beverage of choice in Turkey only in the 20th century. Turkish tea is traditionally offered in small tulip-shaped glasses which are usually held by the rim, in order to save the drinker’s fingertips from being burned, as the tea is served boiling hot. Another example of a vessel, shaped by its tradition of Ottoman culture, is the lidded and handled ewer that has been used to assist the washing of hands and necks in Ottoman culture.

Another tradition that influenced Turkish glass making is the nazar which is an eye-shaped amulet believed to protect against the “evil eye”. In Turkish, it is called Munçuk. The nazar is often hung in homes, offices, cars, children’s clothing, or incorporated in jewellery and ornaments. A typical nazar is made of handmade glass featuring concentric circles or teardrop shapes in dark blue, white, light blue and black, occasionally with a yellow/gold edge.

There are also several techniques that shaped Turkish glass making like Turkish filigree work in blue and white (Çesm-i-Bülbül), which is a highly skilled technique, where each stage of the formation of the vessel is carried out in strict sequence, and must be completed in a very short amount of time. Another important kind of glass-ware is Beykoz glassware, still produced today by Paşabahçe.

Turkish studio glass – the independent artists

In the 1950s the studio glass movement developed in the United States and influenced the world’s perspective on glassmaking. In the 1960s the movement expanded to Europe and especially to Sweden where one of Europe’s first glass studios was founded. Since then artists have started their own studios working with blown glass, casting, lampworking etc. In the last ten years several glass centers where founded, that work as forums for artists and help to promote, develop and internationalize glass as an art form. One of the forums is The Glass Furnace which was first designed as a glass studio but quickly became one of the world’s leading glass schools. Since the day it was founded, The Glass Furnace has been hosting world renowned artists, teaching various glass techniques to Turkish students and students from all over the world, through different workshops. The Glass Furnace is also the creative meeting place for collaboration, participation and experimental processes for young artists and is the institution that initiated the participation of the independent artists of the exhibition.

Participating artists: Müge Göğüş, Ömür Duruerk, Ayşe Gül Seferoğlu, Taha Baydar, Felekşan Emel Onar, Sertaç Alpaslan, Merve Topal, Demet Özkan, M. Fatih Duruerk, Hale Feriha Hendekçigil, Tülin Yiğit Akgül, Fidan Levent Balaban, Tina Varon, Mehmet Altan Sungar, Aylin Özcan, N. Lale Özer, Zeynep Aksu, Mehmet Aydin, Ekrem Kula, Sevgi Taner, Yasemin Sayinsoy, Yeşim Sanatçi, Heyecan Ural, Oya Akman, Birnur Derya Geylani, Fatma Çiftçi, Güclü Polta, Murat Paktur, Asanni Gülin Algül, Duygu Faga, Ebru Susamcioğlu, Meral Değer, Agah Baris Cansakal, Payam Latifi, Reyhan Çezik, Ikbal Özpinar, Emre Çelikkol, Yasemin Aslan Bakiri, Erkin Saygi.

The exhibition opens on June 14:

Inaugural speeches by Ann-Marie Fagerström, commissioner of Emmaboda Municipality, and Taylan Tokmak from the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

Performance by the Sahin sisters who play modern as well as traditional Turkish music. Participants: Rojda Șahin, Berrin Șahin, Gün Șahin, Turgay Özdemir and Mazdak Khosravi.

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