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Turkish Ceramics Comes to Pakistan – by Abida Gohar

Recently for the very first time in Pakistan an exhibition on handmade quartz from Iznik held at Koel Gallery. Quartz Pottery is one of the most long-lasting & attention-grabbing kinds of pottery. Its design patterns and workmanship truly represent the intricacy and vibrancy of Islamic art during that period. Its solidity is outstanding as Quartz Mohs is one of the hardest material with the most hardness score of 7/10.

Five centuries old quartz tiles still decorate the walls of Topkapi Palace and many famous mosques in Istanbul, such as the famous Blue Mosque. The production process is completely by hand. Each piece is handled tens of times with respect to its designing, crafting and painting.

Unlike regular clay quartz are hard to mold because its not sticky and absorb paints leaving more room for error. This quality contributes to a three-dimensional look. Lalezar Pottery is certified for authenticity of its materials and production methods. Original pieces of Iznik Pottery from the Ottoman era that is 15th to 17th century are very valuable. And most are preserved and displayed in all the prestigious museums around the world such as Louvre, The British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum and The Metropolitan Museum to name a few.

Facing economic troubles in the 17th century, the Sultan stopped his demand for Iznik pottery, which were mainly crafted for the palaces and mosques. Consequently, his art vanished, leaving no trace of its unique quartz formula. This art, along with the original formula, remained lost for many centuries – until recently. Lalezar is contributing to its revival with quartz formula that took 15 years of research and development.

Laboratory analysis of original pieces at Oxford in the 1990s established that the original composition had 65% to 75% quartz. Following this discovery, Lalezar, the atelier of quartz pottery Master Selahattin Tek, experimented for over fifteen years to find the stonepaste formula and finally mastered it. All Lalezar art pieces are crafted true to that formula. Its unique and secret formula has been tested for quartz by the reputable Istanbul Technical University and has found it true to the original Iznik pieces. Lalezar is an Iznik Quartz Pottery house where Master Selahattin Tek painstakingly handcrafts less than 200 pieces a year, each piece takes 45 to 60 days to make and it is fired at least 2 times (for 3 to 4 days each time). All these inherent risks to art of quartz pottery are the reasons why endless patience is needed. Each piece that eventually comes to fruition takes some 1.5 to 2 months from start to finish, and results in one of the toughest and most captivating pottery there is, with colors that will retain their vitreous and vibrant qualities for many centuries without maintenance.

It involves shaping of the vessel, the initial firing, design drawing, painting, and the final underglaze firing where the beauty and vibrancy are sealed under glass for eternity. Quartz (unlike underglaze porcelain which can only be produced in white and blue) allows for a large palette of colors. When underglaze fired, these colours obtain their final splendor and become truly radiant and polished; the underglaze also provides everlasting seal against erosion and fading.

The in-house secret formula used for the stone-paste has been developed over 15 years of research and development has more than 75% quartz content – consistent with the 15th century Iznik formula.

The whole production process requires extreme skills and craftsmanship. Besides a specific formula, quartz pottery also demands the highest level of craftsmanship. ​The process is different from that of regular clay because of inherent quartz stone-paste properties such as the following:

  • Quartz stone paste is much less adhesive (and is therefore harder to mold and shape; three-dimensional objects like vases and jars require endless patience and skills),

  • It absorbs paint ​(once the paint is applied, it is impossible to erase it and repaint, which also makes large items extremely collectable due to the intricacies of the work), and finally,

  • It expands/contracts during firing/cooling (and may therefore crack during this process; because it is fired two times (the second time to underglaze seal​), cracks may appear even after 50 or 60 days of work; once the process is finished the pieces is the strongest pottery there is).

All in all, Lalezar is a premium and exclusive brand. These personalized art pieces will become part of your family legacy for many generations. Exhibition was presented in collaboration with Orka Partners – the exclusive appointed agents for Lalezar