Creative Education

Ebru Workshop in Istanbul

Ebru is a traditional Turkish art used to decorate paper for bookbinding, calligraphy and stationary. It is also known as paper marbling for the effect the colours make in the preparation process. Marbling paper adds another artistic depth to the art piece. 

The process of Ebru is fascinating and it is like painting on water. The water has some ox gull in it, which causes the colours to float and be on the surface. Liquid colour pigments are splashed with special brushes. There are various tools to use to shape the Ebru and produce different results. Drawing precisely is also possibly, but Ebru in general is unexpected and requires a lot of practice. 

I am so glad I got the chance to do a quick workshop with the rebound Turkish artist Alparslan Babaogluin the Istanbul Design Centre as part of the Art of Islamic Pattern art trip. It is surly worth a try! 

More Posts from Istanbul:

Artisanal Tour in Fes Morocco

I turned around sharply to the unexpected loud banging noise and saw few elderly men and their apprentices hammering away at copper plates, shaping them and turning the flat material into beautiful useable kitchenware. After all, I was standing at the “workers of yellow/Saffarin” Square. The name should have given it away, but I thought it was only symbolic. It turns out that each square's name in the old medina of Fes is named after the type of workers who reside there.

I followed the tour guide of the Artisanal Fes tour eagerly as we got closer to the copper workers. We were given a quick introduction of how the copper shaping is done. The workers of yellow were not only the ones who worked with copper, but the ones who worked with brass as well. The brass crafter was working on a really big chandelier. The shaping was done in similar format to the copper, but it had more precise tools. The little shop had brass rings, earrings and little key chains. The prices were exact without the usual inflated tourists price tag. I think that was the most honest crafter in Fes.

Next stop was the knives sharpener who welcomed us with his brightly coloured clothes that matched his shop front. He was one of the oldest workers, but full of life sharpening one knife after another with his old stone machine while chatting, balancing the sharpening and the eye contact perfectly.

We continued the walking until we reached the “workers of combs/ Mashateen” Square, where we stopped by the combs maker shop. He had combs and key chains made out of discarded animal bones. The shapes of his combs and key chains were unusual and everyone in the group instantly wanted one. He was a stubborn man who did not lower the price one bit. He told me in Arabic in a soft shivering voice that he is worthy of every penny and pointed at some various scars in his hands and feet. After he said that I handed him the money happily without any more discussion. I even believed him until he did a miraculous jump to show us how he closes his shop. I guess the scars were not as painful as he made me believe. He was a great entertainer though.

From there we moved further into the small, crowded weavers space. There were a couple of weavers at work making bright scarves. The tour guide told us about the weaving process and to make the experience fun they gave the girls and the boys of the tour a quick turban tutorial that added to the atmosphere.   

The last stop of the tour was the tanneries. Before we even got there we were embraced with the most appalling smell of dead animals and it only got worse the closer we got. I was very thankful for my headscarf because I instantly wrapped it over my nose to block the smell. The torture of the smell was mildly solved by fresh branches of mint that we were giving upon entering the leather exhibition, where we went to the top floor to see the tanneries. It was interesting to look at the process, but it turned into a leather shopping spree after the tour was over.  

The tour was very pleasant and picturesque. There is something beautiful about capturing crafters at work. I was most comfortable taking photos during the Culture Vultures of Fez tours and workshops because everyone that we met has had previously agreed to photos. I highly recommend it.  

L. Cornelissen & Son, High Quality Art Supplies in London

Happy Tuesday! 

After my classes at the Prince's School of traditional arts, I found out about a few art stores that I don't think I can live without anymore. One of them is Cornelissen. It's an old little art supplies store with squeaky wooden floors located just by the British Museum. They basically have everything an artist might ever need from gold to pigments and beyond. Orders can be made online or on the phone. I reserved my order and went to pay in person because students get 10% off, which is a bargain if you are getting a bunch of stuff. I warn you though, going there will surly tempt you to get more art supplies. It's worth going regardless. 

Cornelissen Art Supplies in London
Cornelissen Art Supplies in London
Rainbow coloured pencils
Cornelissen Art Supplies in London
Art Shop
Natural Pigment

Granada Study Trip

Happy Saturday everyone! 

Exactly a year ago, I started my journey towards Islamic Patterns. It has been a very slow journey, but I am making my way through it surly. Last April, I attended an amazing Islamic Patterns Intensive course in London taught by Richard Henry and Adam Williamson at their studio (read all about it, Art of Islamic Pattern). I enjoyed the course and the teaching so much that I decided to join them on their study trip in Granada.

The study trip was four days. The class was located in the Granada Mosque. Walking from the downtown was about half an hour. It was a lovely walk, but all the stairs to go right to the top were unexpected (first photo). It was really pretty going through the narrow streets regardless. 

The first day started off with a lecture about moorish history given by Tahira Whiteman, who pointed out many interesting facts about the struggle of Muslims in that region (second photo).  Afterwards, we received a guided tour by the well knowledgeable and area native Ahmad Zaruq Summers the owner of Alandalus Experience tours (third photo). In the afternoon, we were given an insightful lecture about Geometry and Symbol in the Alhambra by Richard. Then we started drawing a geometric pattern (fourth & fifth photos).

The second day was Adam's turn to give us a lecture on biomorphs and stucco carving in the Alhambra Palace (sixth photo). That was followed by drawing a biomorphic patten (seventh & eighth photos). That day had an evening session as well with Shuaib Sanchez from Al-Yarrar Ceramics (ninth photo). He is a local craftsman who have been doing Islamic patterns and ceramics for the longest time.

The third day was fully dedicated to Alhambra. I was looking forward to it so much from the first day I arrived to Granada. It was such a gem. I loved it so much that I did five posts about it. Starting with three posts on Alhambra: Alhambra I, Structure, Alhambra II, Carved Patterns and Alhambra III, Painted Patterns. Then the gardens were as amazing and I did the Generalife Structure and Generalife Patterns and Flowers posts. We spent the morning in a tour around the palaces taking in the beauty and the creativity of the place. In the afternoon, after going through the gardens we stayed under the shades to draw a lovely geometric pattern with Richard (tenth photo). 

On the morning of the last day, we were in the class drawing a challenging pattern with Richard (11th & 12th photos). You can see how focused we were in the group photo taken by the creative photographer Piotr Fedorczyk. In the afternoon, we were rewarded with an amazing leather workshop at Munira's Leather shop. We learnt how to transfer the biomorphic pattern we drew with Adam on leather. It was so much fun.     

Overall, the study trip was a great success and I got to meet some wonderful like minded people that I am still friends with *MashAllah* Take a look at their pages: JeeaSamira, SharminaPiotr.  

I can't wait for the next study trip and if you are interested in Islamic Patterns make sure to take a class with the Art of Islamic Pattern group. 

Geometry of Architecture and the Buildings Art

Happy Saturday everyone! 

As some of you know I am working on my masters in Interior Architecture in Middlesex University *mashallah* and my dissertation topic is Geometry and Islamic patterns in interior design. It was really hard to decide and I am still in the research phase. As part of my research I attended a short course about Geometry of Architecture and the Buildings Art in the Princess School of Traditional Arts. The class was taught by Jon Allen and Jonathan Horning. 

Jonathan telling us about shapes. 

Before the course, I expected it to be a general course with some information and mostly drawings, but I was blown away by the amount of information I received. It surly exceeded my expectations. 

Jon kicked things off with a very insightful lecture

The course started with a lecture defining geometry, space and numbers. The lecture focused on the circle and the sphere. Philosophically, the sphere has special importance not only to geometry, but it is the point that starts life. The human creation starts as a sphere. The human existence is located in a sphere known as Earth, which is part of a collection of spheres known as the solar system. The sphere is the symbol of heavens. The wonders of a sphere are endless. It is the purest archetype forms because it does not acquire more space when it turns around itself that is why “The power of life moves in a circle” (Allen, 2014). 

Earth on the left and YOU -how humans look like before they become anything else- interesting right?

The course moved to a practical element and the results were very surprising. I was taught to make three-dimensional shapes from sticks to recreate the five platonic solids. Doing that exercise helped me really see geometry because the geometric solids are still not the exact accuracy as they appear on pictures. 

Five platonic solids

All we used was sticks and glue!

Class effort

The dome was really impressive! That was so much fun

Moving forward in the course, there was drawing that made sense of the mathematics and the most common geometry rules I studied in secondary school such as the Pythagoras rule: a^2 + b^2 = c^2. We drew the triangles that translate to square root 2, square root 3 and square root 5. It was good to see the actual meaning of those math rules in real life.  

From just math to beautiful patterns

I really enjoyed the course and I would surly recommend it. It was a really good starting point for me. Now, I have to continue researching and writing. Wish me luck! :)

Art of Islamic patterns

Happy Weekend everyone!

Hope your week went well. Mine was spent learning and drawing Islamic patterns at the Art of Islamic Patterns intensive course. Since I am an Arab interior designer, people make the assumption that I am an expert in Islamic patterns and calligraphy even though I don't even mention them or add them to my designs. I decided to embrace the stereotype and go for it because I noticed that the number of Arab interior designers who know the real art of Islamic patterns is very limited.

The course was taught by Richard Henry and Adam Williamson who were extremely skilled. It is wonderful that they share their skills and techniques with the world. There are different course options from intensive to weekly on their websites. The intensive course was so much fun, but not as easy as I thought it would be.

The studio is located in Hackney Wick. The space is very inspiring and artistic. It is decorated with pieces from pervious projects. We all worked around one big table that was surrounded by backless high chairs.

The week started with geometric patterns, where we were taught how to use the compass correctly. It was really amazing to see the results after we connected the right lines together. Richard has some mad skills!

Here are some of the patterns we learnt in the course. We followed the steps and got results. Not as easy as it sounds. 

Playing with patterns like that is really fun and you get surprising results.  

Collection of inspiring images taken by Richard and shown to the class

After learning some pattern basics and looking at the history of some patterns -and where they originated-, we moved to making ceramic tiles. The hands on part was GREAT! Adam was a real expert. He was super patient with all of us. He also taught us few free hand patterns.

We each got a ready plastered triangles. We had to copy our pattern on top. We used tools to shape it. Then we made clay models. After they were dried and baked, we sanded them and painted them. Below you can see the colour palette I was going for.

Overall, the week was full of creativity and I really enjoyed all the new skills I learnt. The other students were amazing and they all come from different backgrounds. It was really interesting meeting all of them. I highly recommend it.