Turkish Mosaic Lamps

THE CAREFUL CRAFTING OF TURKISH MOSAIC LAMPS

Turkish mosaic lamps are a treasure from the Near East that has finally found an audience here in the West. The mosaic lamp owes its lineage to the Turkish glass making tradition which stretches back for millennia in Asia Minor. Over the centuries the local glass blowers produced a variety of objects including bowls, flasks, carafes and more that displayed a peerless quality and level of sophistication found in glass products virtually nowhere else in the world. It is likely that the mosaic lamp of today owes a direct historical debt to the local oil lamps of some 500 years ago. In this post, we’ll take a quick look at how these incredible art objects are made in the workshops of Turkey.

THE MAKING OF TURKISH MOSAIC LAMPS

Mosaic lamps derive their beauty from the quality of materials used in their construction and the skill and imagination of the artisans that conceive and fabricate them. Mechanization has virtually no place in the production process and as such each mosaic lamp is very much an individual object d’art. But just what is the production process for such a unique and timeless piece of home decor? While there are aspects of production that must remain between the master craftsman and apprentice the general process is as follows:

  • Individual sections are hand cut from larger sheets of handmade glass of different colors and thickness. The size and shape of each specific piece will later play an integral part in the overall design of the various lamp styles.
  • A base of clear, hand blown glass is then prepared to accept the individual pieces of cut glass. The basics of the design are laid out on the clear glass using markers to ensure the final pattern adheres to the designer’s original plan.
  • A clear, permanent but slow drying adhesive is applied to a small section of the base with the pattern visible through the adhesive to guide the hand of the artisan. Each pattern leaves enough ‘wiggle room’ to allow each lamp to acquire its own expressive characteristics.
  • Section by section adhesive is applied and individual glass pieces assembled into the final mosaic form. Once all the pieces are in place a special paste is used to fill the space between individual pieces. The completed lampshade is then given several days to set up properly.
  • Once the adhesive and bonding paste has dried special cleaning solutions are applied and rubbed in vigorously to remove any excess bonding paste from the surface of the glass segments. This is a labor intensive effort that may require several passes.
  • Following the removal of excess paste the mosaic lamp shade then has any sharp or extruding glass edges smoothed out by use of a wire wheel attached to a mechanical lathe. It is virtually the only aspect of production which utilizes machinery.
  • Once the mosaic lamp shade is deemed finished it is attached to brass or bronze components that are fabricated and assembled by hand to form a complete pendant lamp, wall sconce or table lamp that will provide beauty and elegance to your home for generations.

While the chemical composition of the adhesive, bonding paste and cleaning solutions has changed over time, and where the artisans now use markers where once they used ink applied via a brush, the rest of the process is essentially the same as it has been for centuries. None of the updated aspects of the process in any way change the beauty and timelessness of the final product.

THE ROLE OF THE MOSAIC LAMP

Today as you amble through the wealth of Turkish crafts in the Grand Bazaar the glass mosaic lamps you’ll see are little changed from the mosaic lamps that inspired Louis Comfort Tiffany to adapt the idea to his brand of light fixtures. The warmth and honesty exuded by these decorative lamps is not intended to provide bright light for the conduct of detailed work. There are other types of light for that. Their job instead is to set a mood and create a calm, relaxed atmosphere whether you place them in the vestibule or over the kitchen countertop.

ADD THE CHARM, ELEGANCE AND MYSTERY OF THE ORIENT TO YOUR HOME

The Turkish mosaic lamps we sell at Dervish Handicrafts come in a variety of styles and sizes. Each one is an individual expression of the glass maker’s craft, hand-wired and assembled in workshops that are little changed from the days of the Ottoman Empire and Byzantium before it. There are no mechanized factories in Turkey where mosaic lamps are assembled by robots for mass consumption. These art objects are reminders of timeless traditions and the value of craftsmanship. Long after even the most sophisticated smartphones of today are obsolete these mosaic lamps will remain; silent reminders of the eternal and enduring values of Turkish crafts.

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