Full Moon Over Üsküdar

Full moon over Üsküdar

Smoky quartz

Last night in jewelry class felt action-packed- I was working on several projects simultaneously and planning more in my head. In the atmosphere of the studio, it's easy to get carried away in ideas and for the already boiling pot to bubble over. I've been coming to terms with the fact that I'll be leaving Istanbul at the end of June to return to the US in order to finish my MS in communicative disorders. Parting with my jewelry class and the community of people it's connected me to has been one of the most difficult things to adjust to mentally. I have been so thankful for this consistent creative outlet over my five years here and the open arms that I've been received by, despite my poor knowledge of Turkish.

Whenever I've come to class stressed or upset about life situations, I have always left feeling uplifted. The Sunday sessions have provided a constant joy in my week with shared work, laughter, food- I always look forward to them and rarely miss them. There is something cleansing about making things with one's hands- as if in cutting and filing down metal, ones own worries and stresses also wear away.

My heart tightens at the thought of leaving this community behind, especially my wonderful teacher, whose humor and cheerfulness is a colorful thread woven through each Sunday afternoon. But, I am also incredibly grateful that I have had them in my life and have learned about this fascinating age-old craft during my time here. This is the dilemma that anyone who leaves their home country encounters- facing the time when you have to say goodbye to the relationships that have brought meaning to your life and have helped you grow as a person, while you wandered further and further from the safety of home.

During class, I worked on a ring with a smoky quartz ring and started a snake bracelet to match the ring I made a few weeks ago. Our friend, the calligraphy teacher stopped by for a visit and the class was lively with back and forth banter. At one point, when we were trying to figure out the kind of design the snake bracelet would have, my teacher explained that it would need to be open on one side and wouldn't slide in from the top of my hand. "Why not?" I asked him. He asked me to put the tips of my fingers together and gazed at my extended hand, scrunching his eyebrows, no doubt imaging a bracelet sliding on. Finally, he shook his head and said, "No. Your hand is too big." "Excuse me!" I said in feigned offense. "No, no!" he tried to backpedal before realizing I was joking and joining in the laughter. "So now, I also have to worry about having oversized knuckles!" I said, shaking my head. The class ended with a look at new stones that had come in and I caved and bought two matching rose quartz faceted drop-shaped stones.

Start of a bezel

Soldering the bezel

At the end of class, the four of us headed to Üsküdar for dinner. I had planned to interview my teacher for Yabangee to find out more about his experience training as a jeweler in Istanbul and the context of being an apprentice to a master jeweler at the time when he was trained. The calligraphy teacher was going to translate my otherwise swiss cheese understanding of Turkish. We hopped on a fast ferry from Kabataş. Across the way, above Üsküdar, the moon was full and pink- a fresh blooming beginning in the sky. We stopped and ate at Kanaat Lokantasi, an Üsküdar staple that I had yet to go to and had dishes of lamb and beef.

After dinner, we settled into a small coffee shop for a few hours, where I got to ask my teacher some questions about his time as a jewelry apprentice in the Grand Bazaar, which I'll share once the interview is published. Hearing him tell his stories was fascinating- worlds apart from how I grew up, even though we are very close in age. I could have continued picking his brain much longer, but we'd been sitting for a while and it was nearly closing time. I caught a late ferry back to Kabataş that night full of stories and full from these nurturing friendships I have been lucky to stumble into.

Keeping the fun going into the night- Uskudar

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