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Bead bombing in Istanbul

Bead bombing in Istanbul

Half a year ago (exactly on my birthday) Marcia DeCoster published a new article on her BeadLove blog. It was a post written by Laura Zeiner, you can check it out here. I have heard about guerrilla knitting or guerrilla crocheting before, but “bead bombing” was new to me. Laura, who is a talented knitter and beader decided to adorn some of her favourite places with beaded ornaments. A bench on her usual hiking trail and a rock next to her gym both look very different nowadays, and I bet they cheer up everyone walking around. (Also, they help to direct attention towards beadwork, which is sadly very underrated nowadays.)

The article by Laura immediately struck a chord, and I was sure that sooner or later I will follow in her footsteps. The right time came when recently I traveled to Istanbul. I have a strong passion for discovering new places. I like to walk around with an open eye and to see how people live all around the world. These experiences shaped who I am. I wouldn’t be the same if I haven’t seen both the rags and riches of India, haven’t experienced the Berber hospitality in Morocco or saw sea turtles and orangutans in Malaysia. Many of these journeys inspired me to bead a jewel (for example the Diwali bracelet, the Borneo necklace or the Serendib vest).


I am really grateful to the countries I visited and the people I’ve met,

so I think it was the highest time I started to give back in my own way. 




Prior to the trip I selected cabochons which I thought appropriate for Istanbul. For the focal component I chose a beautiful mat turquoise L2Studio cabochon, handmade with great care by my friend Lenka Gondova, and selected different Swarovski Elements rivolis and fancy stones to go with it. The seed beads were my usual: mat nickel plated and metallic dark bronze by Miyuki. I packed everything into a yellow lunch box I got as a gift several years ago. I wanted to make sure that my scissors will not be taken by the airport security, so I took a nail clipper instead – just perfect to cut Fireline! The bead mat secured into a cheap Ikea picture frame fitted perfectly my notebook bag. I started to bead already at the airport, and continued every morning in our friendly guesthouse. The breakfast area was made for it: a lot of natural light, a generous amount of traditional Turkish apple tea and amazing view over the Marmara Sea and the Bosphorus.



Recently I’ve read Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel-prize winning book ‘My name is red’. It’s a story of a mysterious murder and theft. One of the the miniature painters of the Turkish Sultan was killed, and some very important miniatures went missing. In the meanwhile Pamuk got me really excited about the art of the Osman Empire, so my primary goal in Istanbul was to see miniature book illustrations and to visit as many of the beautiful buildings as possible. We began every day in a museum or a mosque in the historical part, and wondered off to more contemporary neighbourhoods during the evenings and afternoons. Not only the magnificent buildings and the Museum of Islam Art where memorable, but it was also worth to visit the small shops and hipster cafes of the new neighbourhoods. Turkish design was and is very inspiring! (A separate article is coming soon.)



The medallion I made is not a complicated one, however, it took me until the last day to finish it. I chose a beautiful Turkish Rococo well built by Ahmet III to leave it at, as it was one of the most beautiful things I saw in the city. The day before I took some measurements, and I beaded a Peyote stripe, which should fit around the fence. It would have been useful if I had a measuring tape. The stripe I made was too long, as I wanted to make sure I have to bead on site as little as possible. At first I wanted to rip off the extra part. As it would took quite a while, Adam had the idea to double it. That’s what I did, so we could continue sightseeing and make the most out of our last day.

The medallion is right behind Hagia Sophia, at the entrance of the Topkapi Palace – make sure to check it out if you are in the city, and send me a picture. Hopefully it’s still there 🙂

P.S.: I put together some ‘Istanbul BeadBoxes’ inspired by the medallion, you can check them out here. At the moment only 3 are left out of the six.





Comments (2)

  1. What a great place to do some bead bombing! And your beaded piece is beautiful and fits the spot you’ve chosen. Thanks for the photos of Istanbul – one of my favorite places to explore. 😍

    Jeanne Evans
    Oct 19, 2017 Reply
    • Istanbul is so beautiful, isn’t it!? Have you been to the Asian side, too? I’m happy you like the medallion 🙂

      Erika Sandor
      Oct 20, 2017 Reply

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