He may be hard at work on a new piece of art or judging a student’s work. Don’t doubt that your visit will be very interesting.
Erbörü patiently and meticulously bends the timber. He understands the material and burns it himself. Additionally, he slowly creates the patterns that adorn the wood. Later, every line is decorated with shading and as it is burned it becomes more beautiful, embellished with black and brown tones. After all that effort it is polished and prepared for its debut.
The timber is paid a great deal of respect and interest by a wood-burning artist. Erbörü, an artist who has applied himself to this work for years, explains it in this way: “Abroad this is known as ‘pyrography.’ Timber or other useable surfaces are decorated with various designs using a hot metal pen. In essence, this is a decorative art form.”
These pictures are used for decoration. The art form stretches from the Selçuk period to today. In fact, for the first time some pictures are now able to be perfectly reproduced. The black pen that was used in the classic black and white style has with time been replaced. If you study its origins, the root of wood-burning artistry can be found amongst Native Americans. They would send and receive news during wartime by burning materials with a heated stylus. In the 19th century the art form developed as the Native American writing style did. Wood began to be used. At this time, Turks were attempting to transmit news by writing on leather, but after a period of time this was forgotten. According to experts the art of etching was revived in the art of wood etching.
Life’s most meaningful gift
Seventy-year-old Erbörü was born in Konya. As soon as he finished elementary school he began to work as a cobbler, his father’s profession. When he was 25 years old he moved to İstanbul with his family. While everything in his life continued as usual, his brother, who was a teacher at an art school, gave him a tool as a gift that changed his life. It was a soldering iron inside a small box, an electric tool that was able to etch several small designs into wood. Of course, to Erbörü the gift was much more than the adored older brother could have guessed. While continuing in the shoe trade he would set aside some time each day to try and learn the art of burning wood. After this he worked with a 30-year master of wood-burning. As soon as he retired, Erbörü established his own workshop. If you would like to learn how he studied wood-burning, Erbörü will happily explain it to you. In a way, just by thinking this you have become his student.
Is the searing process damaging?
“Actually, this process should be called wood-searing,” says Erbörü, because, as it is seared, the timber is not strictly being burned. Erbörü usually uses poplar trees in his pictures and wood engravings. It is a strong timber that allows detailed work and requires careful craftsmanship. Because poplar trees have white timber, showy designs can be displayed more easily. In pieces that incorporate tiny writing there is an inherent risk when searing the wood. Because of this, trees like chestnut and linden are preferred. According to Erbörü, whichever way his style develops is fine by him, because everything can be etched onto wood and it has the ability to last for at least 200 years.
Sabr-ı gönül workshop
You can run into Erbörü, on the same street as Kückayasofya Camii, a road that wanders through Sultanahmet. He will probably be sitting in his workshop, which is fragrant with fresh wood, or he will be busy bringing his newest piece of art to the market. Don’t doubt that when you come into contact with him he will be completely sincere and polite. The wood master Erbörü, who produces the most beautiful pieces, loves his work so much that he would give his designs away for free.
The best examples are in France
Although wood-burning masters are not exactly widespread, the best practitioners are in France. In fact, there is even a museum that reflects the art form’s best examples. Erbörü says this museum collects art from various countries and exhibits them. He explains that the curators will be visiting his workshop in the coming days in order to feature his works in their collection.