October 13: Silvia, Konya

Silvia is from Argentina.  She came to Turkey when she was 17 to study  – – –  and stayed.  She studied cartography, and then the design of Turkish rugs.   She married a man whose family has been in the carpet business for generations.  As her husband began to use wool for felting, as well as weaving, she came to “touch the wool” and that brought a big shift in her work.  She realized she wanted to work with her hands – to create the designs, not just draw them.  From her husband she learned the process of felting, and then from Europeans she learned a different method. She combined the two processes to create her own unique method.

This process is fascinating!  It is like “painting” with bits of wool.  On a background of 2 or 3 layers of bonded wool, Silvia takes a bit of bright rose wool, dips it in a mixture of soapy water, and before our eyes creates a beautiful rose  – – adding a stem here, leaves there.  Then, the piece is rolled and squeezed so that the surfaces of the design begin to bond to the background.  It is unrolled, more soapy water, squeezed again — and again — and again — until the finished item is about half its original size and has an appearance somewhat resembling boiled wool – for those of you familiar with that.

I doubt that Sylvia would consider herself a “leader,” though to me she certainly is one.  We visited her shop – which I expected to be “a shop.”  It is actually a workshop where this beauty is created.  One wall is filled with bins of brilliant bulk wool, tables on which the designs are actually created fill much of the space, and their handwork is displayed for sale on another wall. Tea is available.  The designs are created not only on wool, but also on silk backgrounds.

Two young women were at work while we were there – creating floral patterns on long strips of silk, which would become lovely scarves.  These two, Silvia said, had come from nearby villages because they did not want to get married.  One was not studying.  The other was studying archeology.

Silvia was off to Ankara the following day – for meetings regarding her shop becoming certified by the government as a source of genuine Turkish handcrafts.

Making the world a little more beautiful every day!

Best wishes to each of you,

Barbara

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