Bu Taş Düşmez

Setting the stone

Istanbul these days has been cast in gray and laced with frost.  It's the kind of humid cold and gloom that sneaks between the buttons of your jacket and settles deep underneath your clothes, if you let it. The kind that can seep into your heart, like a worn pair of boots soaking up icy water, and calls for more than the average dose of comfort. I walked into the jewelry studio on Sunday with whipped cheeks and happily warmed up with a cup of Turkish coffee and a chocolate-covered lokum.

Almost finished...

In class, I worked on finishing the hinged pendant that's been in the works for a few weeks. It started with an Ottoman design that I cut and then raised with a silver outline of the same shape. My teacher then showed me how to make the hinge for the hanging stone's bezel. This week's work was to set the stone. We hooked the bezel into a clamp to steady it and I worked my way around, pushing in the metal to cradle the stone. When I'd done as much as I could do by hand, my teacher brought out the electric "marteau" to push down the edges of the bezel even more securely. "Ucak düşebilir, ama bu taş düşmez," cried my teacher triumphantly ("A plane may fall, but this stone will not"). He often inserts small sayings- made up or common idioms- into the class, which I always get a kick out of once they're translated. One he repeats all the time is a rhyme he's made with my name, "Emilie Varlet, sen bu işi hallet," which means "do this work", and which he says to me once he's demo-ed a skill or sporadically throughout the class. I feel like this small sayings is a way to include me in a class, where even after five years, my level of language can only be classified as "caveman Turkish", and it makes me smile. 

After class, I beelined home to bundle up. On my way back, I moaned seeing that my usual way was blocked and that Turkish riot police was out in full force, their austere armor a dissonant juxtaposition to the merry crowd funneling through Istiklal. I wondered what all the hubbub was about and if it had anything to do with a big soccer match that same night. As I approached Galata, I saw a large mass of people and as I got closer, was happy to find that it was a feminist march in honor of International Women's Day. Istiklal was a river of women bringing to the forefront issues such as violence against women. Seeing so many people, marching peacefully for a just cause brought warmth to an otherwise cold, Istanbul night.

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