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An interview with ceramicist ilaerg

What is the first thing you do in the morning? 

I don’t have a stable morning routine even though I wake up early but I’ve always enjoyed unconscious writing right after I open my eyes. It helps me to get rid of some excess thoughts and emotions and start the day with a clear mind. 

What led you to work with ceramics, are you self taught? 

I studied ceramic design at Marmara University and minored in industrial design. It was not intentional for me to study ceramics but it became a passion in a short time. It is always fascinating to see the designs you imagine in real life and ceramic allows you to do that all by yourself. I think it is a privilege to be at every stage of production as a designer. Ceramic has its own strict rules but at the same time it gives such freedom. 

You teach and do workshops in your studio, does that contribute to your creative flow or more as a break from your own? 

Whenever I have a class I make a piece with the students at the same time. I teach  traditional hand building techniques and wheel throwing which are two things I really love but can’t do all the time. So these classes are more like a break to me from industrial production. Also, teaching these techniques over and over again is making me get better technical wise. 


How does living in Istanbul contribute and/or inspire your work?

I was born and raised in Istanbul. This city taught me that details are everything. Since high school I have loved to walk around and examine the streets as a habit. My head is always up even when I'm in a street I pass everyday because you can always find something you’ve never noticed it was there before. I could pass a street just to see a door handle with good craftsmanship. I don’t know if that is contributing to my work directly but it definitely affected my vision. 

Do you think that creativity runs in your family or do you think your upbringing has played a role in your work?  

Yes, it definitely runs in the family. My mother is a very creative person and has really good dexterity. I was crazy about art when I was a little kid. I still remember the excitement I felt when my mom let me paint all over our balcony wall. My parents always valued my talent but they were strict about school and grades. So It was a journey for me to grow out of those norms and find my own path.

What is one thing you have yet to explore within ceramics, are there any materials or forms you can't wait to play with?   

I’m trying to figure out porcelain. It is a very delicate material and has a different behavior than ceramic. It’s been a challenge for me because It doesn’t respond well when I try to shape it like I shape ceramic clay. I feel like I’m learning everything all over again. I can’t wait to create forms that can transmit light. Also, my friend Sayo has brought some different local clays from her hometown. We’ve been making samples out of them. It is so exciting to see how they turn out with different glazes and temperatures. I want to work with those clays once we finish our experiments. 

Where does your mind go when you work during your creative process?   

I can not think of anything other than what I’m doing at that moment. Clay needs attention. It is so easy to mess up so I feel like I have to be in deep focus while I’m working. The situation is similar when I'm designing. I try to let go of all of my thoughts and emotions to get in the flow. I always lose track of time when I'm in that state.   

What's the last thing you do before bed? 

Crossword or sudoku! I often fall asleep with the pen in my hand. Getting into bed with a puzzle book is like a warning to my brain to shut down for the day.

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