Location: Eskisehir, Turkey
Designed in New York and handmade in Turkey by ceramicist Hüseyin Artik, 5TH26’s first vase collection of oblong, asymmetric and bud shaped vases are made using traditional techniques with a modern sensibility. After a few months of finishing up the collection, we caught up with Hüseyin in his light filled studio on how he developed his technique and what he finds most challenging and rewarding when working with clay.
How do you begin the day at the studio?
First I make myself a cup of coffee. After that, I prepare the studio, review my notes, and sketches before starting the day.
How did you become a ceramic artist?
I studied fine art with a special focus on studio ceramics.
Working with clay involves years of experience to develop technique. How long have you been making ceramics for, and how did you develop your technique?
I have worked with clay for nine years and there are a lot of ways one can make ceramics. My preference is to use the potter’s wheel, which takes a lot of practice and patience. When beginning on a new piece I spend eight to ten hours a day over a long period getting familiar with the clay and how it reacts to the form I am developing. In doing so, it strengthens the bond between the material and myself. Eventually, technique comes naturally from intuition and touch. I allow my hands to connect with the clay as it forms with the motion of the wheel.
What do you find most challenging and rewarding about working with clay?
There are a lot of surprises when working with clay and moments when you cannot go back. It takes time to finish each piece and you cannot expect it to be exactly as you imagined. There are a many steps and processes involved in making a piece: the clay dries, it shrinks, then there is firing, more shrinkage and finally glazing and glaze firing. Each step involves the piece to go through an evolution and it becomes different from start to finish. Not knowing what finally comes out of the kiln can be both challenging and rewarding.
Ceramics have been a part of our culture for thousands of years. Having such a history, how do you like to work with the material?
The potter’s wheel is a primitive technique with a long history, which I respect. I like to use this technique when working because I feel more connected to each piece and the clay. Because each piece is handmade, sometimes you can you can see my hand print on the pieces.
What inspires you and your work?
Clay lives, breathes, and it talks to you. Humanity began with clay and we all end up as clay so I try not to use glaze as often as I can so when you touch a piece you can feel its rawness and life.
Your collaboration with 5TH26 involved creating new shapes such as asymmetric and oblong vases. What was your process in creating the collection for 5TH26?
The techniques remained the same, as each vase is wheel thrown and hand shaped. However, the finishing process was different because I had to give each piece its flattened imprint for the asymmetric vase while the clay was still malleable. The oblong vases was first hand shaped and then finalized after many prototypes were created to get the right proportion and form. In order to replicate, I create a slip cast that allows for production. However, even with a cast, each piece still requires hand finishes which makes each piece unique.
This was your first collaboration outside your work. How was your experience?
It was a great experience. Brandon and I share a common aesthetic and respect for the material so it allowed for mutual understanding and artistic interpretation.
You live and work in Eskisehir, Turkey a beautiful city on the banks of the Porsuk River. Can you tell us what you like the most and least about it?
Eskisehir is a European heritage city that is rich is history and culture. There are two universities here so it has a large student population that makes the city feel young. The area was home to the ancient civilizations of the Hittite and Phrygian. In Greek mythology, King Midas lived in the Phrygian city of Pessinus. Even though we have a Mediterranean climate, winters in Eskisehir can be very cold.