Over Thanksgiving week in late November my husband and I were at the International Bead and Beadwork Conference in the most fascinating city in the world, Istanbul, where I taught a workshop and gave a presentation on the "Early Development of Polymer Clay in Beadmaking". With leading bead experts and artists from around the world, the conference promised to be exciting and parts of it were, but unfortunately due to incredible mismanagement and disorganization as well as alleged criminal behavior on the part of the organizer, it left a sour taste in just about everyone's mouth.
The best part for me were the 11 students in the workshop I taught who came from Turkey, Israel, the UK, Belgium and the US. We had a terrific time despite a few language barriers and I actually had to use what little Turkish I can speak (I lived in Ankara, Turkey from 1989 to 1993). They all produced very nice pieces in spite of the strange oven we had. Fortunately a previous student and friend of mine, Lorna Woods-Johns, was there to manage the oven.
Something else I loved at the conference was a display of edible neckpieces on black mannequins. They were bold assemblages of dried fruit, dried peppers, dried flowers, dried spices, candies including Turkish Delight, pastries, etc. and were spectacular. There was also a nice exhibit of contemporary art glass beads put on by the Bead Museum in Glendale, Arizona entitled "Trajectories" and an exhibit of a Turkish woman's collection of ancient beads by themselves and then how she put them together into interesting contemporary designs. This exhibit was entitled "From Collection to Creation."
The most incredible part of the whole Istanbul trip, though, was meeting a Turkish artist named Alev Gozonar who began working with polymer clay only a couple of years ago after her sister had been to the U.S. and was introduced to it. Alev's website is www.alevg.com and she does very contemporary wallpieces using Fimo with plexiglas or wood. Some of her pieces include hundreds of millefiore slices floating around under plexiglas and some include many polymer covered wood blocks mounted on plexiglas. She's just finishing up a commission for a hotel lobby in which 300 wood blocks covered in polymer are mounted on the wall. I am very impressed by her work and we became instant friends.
It is my intention to post to my blog at the beginning of every month. I want to mention here that I will be teaching a workshop in the small village of Durfort, France at La Cascade, a medieval artist's retreat, the first week of October, 2008. It promises to be a uniquely rewarding experience for students and teacher alike, and we will be making a purse. Go to www.gwengibson.com for details.