Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The latest batch of scarves!

Detail from a fuschia scarf.

So the living room is a complete disaster and we had fun printing up a storm. I made some new stamps with bicycles, Eiffel Towers and little Japanese girls and I admit I went a little crazy. So here are the latest scarfs. If you are interested in a particular one, please indicate the photo number and describe the one you are interested in. We even have a few unprinted scarves left over in case you'd like to order something special!


Photo A
Left to right: Coffee cups, Coffee cups, Islamic tree, Chintomani design.
The Islamic tree design is a design I have used for years- It comes from a detail on a wooden door in Egypt. The stylised Chintomani design is common among Ottoman art and architecture.

Photo B
Plain dark maroon scarf, scooters-coffee-camera on lilac, and two different hand dyed twisted scarves in grey and brown. We also have plain black scarves. All with the evil eye sewn into the corner.

Photo C
Butterflies-flowers on lilac, peace with the Istanbul tile, Istanbul tile and chintomani.

Photo D
Pink octopus, cameras-coffee, Istanbul tile, and Turkish tea cups on fuschia.

Photo E
Eiffel tower-camera-bicycle and coffee, Large Turkish tulip, Camera-Japanese girl, bicycle and Japanese peace, Fuschia henna.

Photo F
Butterfly-Japanese girl- peace, pink peace, butterfly-Japanese girl- peace and flower, butterfly and flower.

Photo G
Art nouveau feather, brown tear drop, lilac tear drop, green Istanbul tile.

Photo H
Maroon seventies bike, brick seventies bike, brown hand of Fatima, green scooters.

Photo I
Coffee and Eiffel Tower, hand of Fatima, funky bud, two toned flowers and Eiffel Tower, match box bike and coffee.

Photo J
Holy brightness! Bikes, Eiffel towers and Japanese girls.

Photo K
Hand of Fatima, tribal design, art nouveau feather, Islamic tree.

Monday, November 9, 2009

New Scarves! November 9th

#1: Fuchsia with coffee cups, #2:Hot pink with Octopi, #3: Fuchsia with Henna Designs

Rene and I have been madly printing, ironing, sewing, ironing again! It's been really exciting for the both of us to have so much interest in the scarves. Each morning I've been opening my inbox with orders for more scarves. We will try to find a way to continue after we leave Turkey, but we can't promise anything. So as it is now, first come first serve!

Have a look!

These are the scarves we have available at the moment. As you can see, there are lots of similar colours and designs so no two scarves are exactly alike. Please contact me with the number of the scarf if you'd like one. I will be heading to the post office tomorrow to sort out the costs of shipping. We can discuss payment options by email.

The price: 25 Turkish Lira (until Dec 1st) 25 Canadian dollars (after Dec 1st)

Melanie and Rene

#4: Taupe with Butterflies, #5: Beige Rumi and sprigs, #6: Beige with Flower mix

#7: Steel grey with flower mix, #8: Steel grey with Rumi with rust flowers, #9: Steel grey with Rust and blue flowers.

#10: Taupe Arabic coffee pots, #11: Beige scissors , #12 Taupe flower mix

#13: Taupe butterflies, #14: Beige tribal design, #15: Taupe Peace and flower mix

#16: Taupe Flower Mix, #17: Taupe Blue Butterflies, #18 Taupe Turkish Tea Cups

#19: Purple Peace, #20: Maroon Peace, #21: Purple Scooters

#22: Brick tea cups, #23:Brick henna designs, #24Maroon Hand of Fatima

#25: olive green scooter, #26: Royal Blue Cameras, #27: Light brown tribal design

#28: Taupe Coffee Cups #29: Brick Hand of Fatima, #30: Brick Tribal Design (Mixed Colours)

#31: Rusty Brown Hand of Fatima, #32: Taupe Butterflies.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Talismania Scarves!

The Creative Caravan is taking a small detour this month in to the land of Talismanic block-printed scarves!

Hand block-printed designs and the Turkish evil eye, designed to ward off jealous stares of others who want your new good-luck-infused fashionable scarf!

Rene and I recently took a trip to the Topkapi Palace and spent a lot of time looking at the talismanic healing shirts worn by Sultans. Inscribed with Quranic verse, The “healing shirts” were believed to be able to cure disease and to protect the wearer from evil. The Ottoman sultans believed their shirts would protect them like armor, and often wore them on the days they would be engaged in battle. Since there wasn't any blood on them, they may have actually worked!

Ottoman talismanic healing shirt.

Modern day talismanic scarves made with love in Istanbul: maroon 'peace' in five languages,
purple and red Turkish flower scarves designed and printed in our living room.

After leaving the Topkapi palace, we grabbed a coffee and talked about the shirts, my eyes rested on two women at the next table. One was wearing a Turkish evil eye bracelet, the other, a funky scarf that is the height of fashion in Istanbul these days. The inspirational discussion began, and before we knew it, we were embarking on our mission of creating good luck-infused and fashionable (and practical) lucky charms: The talismanic scarf!

Off to a good start!

Combining all of these good luck symbols and the idea of the inscriptions of the healing shirts, Rene and I came up with talismanic funky scarves, block-printed in Turkish inspired designs. Some have Rumi quotes, and all have their own evil eye hand sewn into the corner.

The evil eye army. We feel the power radiating off these little jewels, I swear.

The project has just begun, we are up to our elbows in carving block prints, printing scarves with fabric paint and sewing the evil eyes in a prominent place of protection. I'll post more pictures here as we go, but I wanted to share this special project with you before Christmas, as these work-of art-scarves are perfect for sending in the post.

The block I carved reversed in the mirror so you can read it:
"When I am with you we stay up all night. When we are apart I cannot sleep. Praise these two insomnias and the difference between them." `Rumi

I carve, Rene prints, with a little give and take here and there.

"We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust." ~Rumi

The scarves will be sold in Istanbul in our Sultanahmet living room or at your place of convenience until the end of November,(at 25 lira each) and will be in Canada after that, at the Naramata Craft Faire on December 6th, and during a side trip to Vancouver and Victoria just before Christmas. (25 CDN including taxes.)

Contact me or Rene for details!
We really hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed making them.

XXMelanie (and Rene)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

There's always time for Tea in Istanbul

It always amazes me how modern life weaves itself around history in Istanbul- how a little corner store can move itself into a five hundred year old monument, how old men drink tea next to an Ottoman fountain, or how I could be living above an ancient Roman cistern and not even know it.

"There is always time for Tea in Istanbul" in a playful take of that dichotomy, Generations of sultans having a chat in a local coffee shop setting. I imagine throughout the ages of the empires fought and won here, there was always time to stop for tea at some point, drinking it the way Turks like to drink it, in thin tulip shaped glasses which somehow, by the shape of the glass guarantees the liquid inside will be sweeter. Discerning eyes may notice there are only two spoons on the table. If you'd like to know where the third spoon is, you can find the story here.

Painted with fine details in the costumes after a recent trip to the Topkapi Palace to admire the robes of the actual sultans, I decided to paint the backdrop to imitate Ottoman miniature paintings that were originally copied for illuminated manuscripts. Ahhhh Tea. Sultans. History. Istanbul. Enjoy!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Balik Ekmek (fish sandwiches) in Eminonu!

Pablo Picasso

Balik Ekmek in Eminonu 24x32 cm

On my first trip to Istanbul in 2001, Rene and I came down to Galata Bridge with a well meaning waiter who wanted to show us where the Bosphorus Cruise left the port. Sadly, he didn't actually know from where the Bosphorus Cruise left, and so we missed our chance. To make up for it, he bought us traditional Istanbul fish sandwiches. The novelty of buying them off the boat as they were cooked up right in front of us was fantastic. I wish I could say the same for the fish sandwich. I remember spitting bones out on the sidewalk like the locals next to me and thinking, "This is breakfast? Ufff." Hard core.

Frying up the fish, detail

The real balik ekmek guys.

Some people I know swear by the fish sandwiches, but I adore the balik ekmek boats for their neon lights, novelty and paintability. I have also discovered the joys of painting with masking fluid which let me cover certain parts of the painting (like the spindles in the front of the boat, and the white peaks of the waves) and do a wash over the whole thing creating a solid wash effect. No more painting around things! Masking fluid is like a thin, milky rubber cement and destroys brushes, so I applied it with toothpicks I stole from a local restaurant. (Starving artists have to be resourceful!)

Near Sunset on a Sunday afternoon.

The boat on which the painting was based.

The water is quite choppy down along the Galata Bridge, and so I wanted to recreate this movement with paint. Thanks to the masking fluid, I was able to be a little freer with the paint in this regard and got a nice effect in the background by adding washed of paint and blotting it with bits of tissue to get the desired effect. This little painting was a joy to paint. Maybe there is a reason it is still in my living room and not hanging on the wall of Java Studio!

Fish and Seagulls in the choppy waters, detail.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Showcase at www.sublimeportal.com!

Keep away from those who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you too can become great.
-Mark Twain

A special thank you to John Atwell for putting the time and effort to test new software with our works currently on display at Java Studio. John (fondly known to us as Jonny) has posted our works on his site, www.thesublimeportal.com. a website for expats living in Turkey. Please check out Jonny's handiwork (and ours too!) on the right side of this screen. Thanks again, Jonny!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Hagia Sophia Mini Series!

The original Hagia Sophia painting, "Night Birds over Hagia Sophia"

After the "Paintings, Prints and Pizza!" Exhibition at the FPPP, I was approached to do another painting of the Hagia Sophia by a gentleman who had heard a legend that the seagulls flying over Hagia Sophia were the souls of drowned concubines tossed into the Bosphorus when they had fallen out of favour with the Sultan.

Planning Sketch for "Evening Call to Prayer, Hagia Sophia"( I forgot the moon!)

Surely I could understand that the birds were too happy to be drowned concubines in the painting on the wall? He was right- far too joyful! So my commission was to paint another Sophia with more serious looking 'female' birds.

"Evening Call to Prayer, Hagia Sophia"

Taking the pigeons I painted in the Sultanahmet Bird Feeders painting as a source, I decided that I wanted to paint a picture that looked like the call to prayer had begun and the birds were fleeing the sound. As one admirer had once remarked, the wings formed crescent moons- quite fitting for a call to prayer painting, so I thought they would be a good fit for the next painting of the Hagia Sophia. to make them look 'more serious', I painted them with beaks closed and without gangly-looking seagull legs.

But I decided to take it a step further and began researching the outfits of the Ottoman concubines, and decided in the whimsical spirit of Rie Munoz, I would paint the concubines flying with the seagulls. Why not? I was a lot of fun to paint this one, though technically much harder than the first because of the details of the costume.
"Concubines over Hagia Sophia"

Both paintings were very much liked by the gentleman, and after a few cups of tea in the cafe and much scrutiny, he went home with the ladies. I'll miss them, but happy they have finally found a good home!

"Concubines over Hagia Sophia" detail.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Creative Caravan Travels to Java Studio, Sultanahmet!

Tile prints in the passageway between the main rooms.

A big thank you to Virginia Lowe, formally of the Family Pizza Pie Place for inviting us to show in her new Cafe/Restaurant, the Java Studio in Sultanahmet. Rene and I spent the morning hanging the show (which was a lot easier this time without the need for the fishing wire web!). It's now up along side some other fantastic watercolours and pen and ink drawings by other artists in the Istanbul area.

View of the entrance room of the cafe. Most of our stuff is here!

Rene's Coffee Pots in the main room.

"Edirne Mosque Study" in the main room.

Prints in the passageway between the rooms!

I will be there most mornings for chit chat and coffee drinking. Come down, drink some coffee and check out all the Java Studio has to offer!

See you there!
XX Melanie