Crafts­man­ship of canes gets new sup­port

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By XINHUA in Ankara

As win­ter ar­rives in north­ern Ana­to­lia, the best sea­son to cut red dog­wood branches for mak­ing tra­di­tional canes is ap­proach­ing.

Tansel Isik, a 51-year-old Turk­ish crafts­man, found his best branches cov­ered with snow.

These will be­come art­works — even na­tional gifts — through his hands.

“A cane is a walk­ing stick ev­ery­where, but if it is a work of art, it must come from Devrek,” says Isik, who got the skills and shop from his father.

He adds that he aban­doned a job op­por­tu­nity in Ankara af­ter grad­u­at­ing from the eco­nomics depart­ment of Ankara Uni­ver­sity and moved back to his home­town to run the fam­ily busi­ness be­cause he loves it so much.

Isik is now the most ex­pe­ri­enced cane maker in Devrek.

“Devrek canes are not just tools to as­sist peo­ple but also have artis­tic value,” he says, adding that the Devrek cane is very durable be­cause of the red dog­wood that flour­ishes in the prov­ince’s forests.

“Thanks to (dog­wood’s) mod­er­ate strength and high tenac­ity, it can be bent but rarely breaks.”

The wood is kept to dry for two years be­fore it’s pro­cessed.

But good wood takes five years to grow.

“If you love a job, noth­ing will get in your way ... It takes quite a while to make canes be­cause there are lots of steps. But af­ter all the ef­forts de­voted to learn­ing how to make a cane, ev­ery­thing be­comes easy,” Isik says.

Ac­cord­ing to Isik, one of the mo­tifs Devrek canes use most is ser­pents, which means for­tune and health. The han­dle is nor­mally made from wal­nut trees, but nacre, sil­ver, tor­toise shell — even pre­cious stones — may also be used.

“I have a collection of canes ... Each one is unique. Some­times, we draw a geo­met­ric fig­ure or Ot­tomanstyle dec­o­ra­tion to in­crease the cul­tural con­no­ta­tions,” Isik says.

“Nowa­days, we fo­cus on the cane mar­ket where our clients can find more artis­tic value in it. Turkey’s pres­i­den­tial palace, prime min­is­ter’s of­fice, and Min­istry of Cul­ture and Tourism have given my canes as state gifts to many celebri­ties and politi­cians, such as US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama,” Isik says.

Devrek county opened a cane-art school two years ago.

Apart from the school, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties also or­ga­nized work­shops for com­mu­ni­ties in Devrek county and Zongul­dak city.

Sevil Badur, a fe­male mas­ter work­ing in Isik’s shop, was one of the school’s stu­dents. Learn­ing how to make a cane is not that dif­fi­cult, but if you want to be­come a mas­ter, you need a cer­tain ta­lent, and pro­fes­sional train­ing and prac­tice are es­sen­tial.

“This is a job which re­quires in­ner peace, and do­ing the job makes me more pa­tient to­ward ev­ery­thing. Usu­ally, men show more in­ter­est in this kind of hand­i­craft, but as the lo­cal gov­ern­ment or­ga­nizes work­shops around the city, more and more women are join­ing this ca­reer,” Badur says.

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