First off, I would like to stress that this one page of information has never intended to tell the whole amazing story of mining one of the most valuable minerals on earth and the people who work in this business. I just wanted to enlighten you pipe smokers who would like to learn about meerschaum a bit more. Although a few pictures will not tell everything, I believe that anything from this side of the world would be worth an addition to your knowledge. Even to me, seeing how this miraculous mineral comes out of the earth had been a dramatic experience in my life.
As I stress all the time, anything is "handmade" in this business. Check these pictures out. I took these pictures in a cold winter day. My little fellow camera was even about to freeze but thankfully kept running with me in a good way. The region was so rural that, on the way to mining area, I saw a bird of prey at the right time just as it caught a hare! I stopped my car to get a better look and take a shot of this once in a life time picture. But the bird got a fright of our existence and left the prey flying away rapidly. The hare was lying still, apparently it was dead. As I have been a lover of watching nature documentaries all my life long, it was the time I had the same experience with my own eyes. On the way back, there was no parts left from the hare right on the same spot. Most likely, the bird was back and got his meal after we left the crime scene.
I hope this little glance to the countryside of the meerschaum land will give you a small clue of why your meer pipe would deserve a bit more of your affection.
Puff in peace
Sinan A. Altinok
A new mining session is about to start in the middle of nowhere. Wish them a big luck because nobody knows if they can find any piece of meerschaum under 30 meters of ground.
There it is, a nylon tent in the middle of nowhere denoting we have a meerschaum shaft. Miners are cleaning the teapot for a new party. Turks can give up anything but tea no matter what they are doing.
A closer look to the tent will take the smoking stovepipe into view which calls the miners warm inside if they are cold. Also meaning that the stove is ready to get the teapot on for brewing the tea.
There was another shaft nearby. Miners know each other very well, talking all the time when they have a break for a fresh air. Some of them are cousins even brothers, father and sons.
The life has never been easy for them but they are always hopeful and enjoy the life. This shaft was being opened at that time hoping they could find a 'big' block of meerschaum.
Inside the tent. At least 8-10°C warmer than outside. Obviously, these people are not wealthy enough to have caviar in their meal but rich enough in soul to share anything they have with the unexpected visitors. I had a great time with them.
Apparently this guy was not lucky to find something until then. But his smile tells us there is always a hope. Note the "handmade" ladder made of wood at right hand corner. A "handmade" windlass helps for removing the soil out of the shaft.