Friday, May 25, 2018

Ismek and Tel Kirma

In Istanbul, there is a school that teaches traditional Turkish techniques to the public. The school is called İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Lifelong Learning Centre (or Ismek). It's like a technical school and the training programs are provided free of charge. The purpose is to promote traditional Turkish art, keeping it alive, and giving the Turkish people the opportunity to learn a skill in order to earn a living. Techniques range from ceramics painting, marquetry, calligraphy, illuminations,... and embroidery. I found out about them when I stumbled on their website.

Unfortunately, they don't have one day or walk-in classes. But if you find yourself living in Istanbul for a very long stretch of time, it might be something interesting to check into. You do need to have a Turkish ID though. They have a catalog of student's works that they release every year (links are at the bottom of this page, be warned the pdf files are really big) and there is some pretty amazing stuff that comes out of those programs.

While walking around looking for the Mosaic museum, we stumbled on a little market organized by the district of Istanbul and Ismek. The market sells pieces made by students. One of the stalls had embroidery. Most of it was crochet, or needle lace along the edge of a scarf, but they also had some examples of Tel Kirma. I ended up buying one of the smaller works that shows one form of Tel Kirma. This will be a good study piece as the back is not covered.


This is stitched using the same type of metal plate I shared from my stash post. The main stitch used is a satin stitch. From what I've seen on Instagram, they use the sewing motion instead of a stabbing motion.


The second stitch used in this piece is a closed herringbone stitch, I think. I looked through my books and that's the closest one I can find. If you know which stitch it is, please let me know. I quite like this stitch, it makes an interesting texture.


Here is a look at the back. It's surprisingly neat, but I can't help but feel like it's a waste of metal plate especially on the satin stitch. English metal plate is expensive, so in order not to waste any of it, it's couched onto the surface so you don't see any of it at the back.


Here is a demonstration by Yoncanakis, my favorite Instagramer at the moment. She has many good videos on her account showing how to stitch with the plate and how to thread the double eyed needle (link).



But this isn't even the true form of Tel Kirma. I found the website of the magazine that I bought, Tel Kirmasi. According to their history page, and Google translate, Tel Kirma or wire breaking is when the metal plate is stitched and broken off (video). Many of these are stitched together creating a pattern. When the piece is finished, it looks like it was embroidered with bugle beads but it's much shinier. It was first seen between 1890-1900 in the district of Asma in Bartın (I'll be adding that to the list of places to visit in the future), but has since expanded to other regions of Turkey. From this many different patterns have been created and it's been used to decorate everything from clothes, linens, scarves, evening bags, lamp shades, ... 

Below is an example from Yoncanakis' account. This can be stitched on any type of fabric, including mesh which could eventually be finished into a clutch or eye glass case. Now that's an idea!


I couldn't find any books on Tel Kirma so Yoncanakis' videos will be very helpful. I would really love a proper book on the technique so I can learn more about it's history. It doesn't even have to be in English. If you know of any books, please let me know!

11 comments:

  1. This sounds really fascinating. It does seem wasteful of a very expensive material - it would be interesting to know why economy didn't figure at all in the development of that variant of the technique!

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    1. Although the gilt plate was more expensive than the silver and copper, it wasn't as expensive as English plate. So maybe cost didn't figure in that. I will have to ask a Turkish stitcher to see what they say. I just need to learn a bit more Turkish ;)

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  2. Interesting love the effect with the “herringbone” stitch.

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  3. Very interesting, Dima. I’ve not heard of this technique before. Probably not surprising since my embroidery knowledge is very Western. It does look like a great technique to learn, and it will be interesting to know how you manage with the plate. Though I am with you - it does seem quite wasteful to have so much on the back!

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  4. Now that's gorgeous...and that back! It might be wasteful, but I guess it's probably fast than the couching method, don't you think?
    I'm really impressed by how little the fabric gets distorted by working with such a wide 'thread'...obviously it does, but it's not really that noticeable until you look really close.

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    1. They do have a type of embroidery where the metal thread is couched instead of stitched, just not sure why they don't use the same technique with the plate... Something to learn in future.

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  5. This is really fascinating Dima! Thank you so much for sharing!

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  6. Great videos, thanks for sharing the link with us.

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  7. A big tadoo yesterday on Facebook. One of the tambour embroider was looking for a needle for metal plate that had a horizontal eye. I directed him to your current blogpost and he was overjoyed and found an etsy dealer that sold the needles Bazaar Bayar in case you are interested. ( it with a horizontal eye but for plate)

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    1. Awesome! Thanks for the link. I was a little worried about what to do if I ran out of materials. Now I have an online source :)

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  8. That looks so cool, thanks for sharing the technique!

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