Celal Usta peers through the crack in the door. "It's you," he murmurs, letting us hurry in and locking the door behind us. “I don't want to be disturbed,” he explains, “if I don't lock up, too many people will come and stop me. I enjoy being here alone, unwinding, concentrating on my tone, giving it soul.” The shy, shy man suddenly becomes very talkative, almost poetic, as he talks about his tone. "I would offer you some tea, but unfortunately I only have one teacup here," he says, pointing to the small cup next to the gas cooker under the shelf. Blanks of vases, bowls and statues are stacked on it to dry out. I can't hide my smile. It is fitting that this man, whose dearest friend is his clay, has no second cup for another man. He really doesn't like company.
At the age of 15, Celal Usta started kneading clay and giving it the most wonderful shapes. "I've been doing this for 30 years," he says. 35 years actually, but he doesn't count the first five years when he was still an apprentice himself. Tarkan asks if he ever thought about doing something else. “Never,” says Celal Usta without hesitation, “I love my work: We were created from earth, so working with earth is a special joy for people. It calms me and gives me peace. I rest at work. Even if there were nothing to do, it's enough for me to come here and breathe this air.” In fact, the whole studio smells very unique, like damp earth, and I take another deep breath in my lungs and try to understand what Celal Usta feels.
I show him the shape of a cup and explain to him that in Germany we like to drink our coffee from large pots. "The cup should probably be eleven centimeters high," says Celal Usta. He starts kneading the clay, divides it, throws it on the table, kneads it again. Turkish folk music is playing in the background. Then he sits down at the turntable and turns it on. He doesn't want to be filmed. He wants to become one with his tone, undisturbed, unobserved. The once cheerful, thawed man is now quite serious again, as if he carries the burden of the whole world on his shoulders. As he dips his hand into the clay, it's as if he's stepped into another world himself. Watching him shape the lump in front of him is enchanting. Totally mystical. When he turns the dial off again, the object in front of him is exactly the same shape as the cup I showed him earlier on my phone and I can't believe my eyes. He puts on the measuring tape. "Eleven centimeters," he says, and now I really can't believe it - to the millimeter!
After Celal Usta forms, dries and fires the blanks, he hands them over to Emine Hoca. She decorates them with our patterns and motifs before the ceramic is glazed and fired again. All of our ceramic products are made by hand at all stages of production. It takes weeks for a product to be ready.
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