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Part 1 ~ Irregular Expressions: a Mother/Daughter Team

Incredibly amazed when I discovered Irrregular Expressions and the work of Turkish artist, Sebahat, I wanted to know more. Following is the interview I conducted online with her and her daughter, Aysegul.

Crochetkween: Is Bolu, where you live, near any larger Turkish city that we would recognize?
Aysegul: Bolu is a small city midway between Istanbul and Ankara, we are surrounded with snowy mountains, dense forests and small lakes. 

Crochetkween: What inspires your designs?
Sebahat: Nature is my biggest source of inspiration. I am deeply interested in natural forms, colors and crocheting techniques. I usually do not have anything specific in my mind while starting a new project, only a general idea about a new technique, shape or a color combination to try. These ideas are just starting points, I make most of my color and design decisions while creating. So pieces are completed after many steps of trial and error. Ideas for new projects often come to my mind while I am working, so I believe each piece builds upon the previous ones.

Crochetkween: How long have you been designing?
Sebahat: I have been creating crochet jewelry for about eight years now.

CrochetKween: Tell us about your interest in crochet?
Sebahat: Crocheting is a childhood passion. I learned to crochet by watching my mother, when I was about seven years old. There were many old crochet pieces on display in our house: shelf trims, samovar covers, some of them even belong to my great grandmother. I learned crocheting by copying these old patterns, my first project was a pillow edging with a lovely floral motif. I remember decorating the cuffs of a pink dress that I made with white crochet laces when I was twelve. I continued learning and collecting new patterns all my life to create table runners, doilies, eyeglass cases. When my daughter was in college, I started creating fiber accessories and beaded crochet jewelry for her.

Crochetkween: Do you have an art background or training?
Sebahat: Actually, I trained as a teacher and graduated from Hacibektas Teacher Training Center and Ankara College of Education for Girls. I worked for thirty years in secondary schools for girls in different regions of Turkey, teaching embroidery, sewing, nutrition and household economics. During that time, I had the chance to collect and learn the beaded crochet and embroidery patterns that are characteristic to these regions. I have always loved working with needles and creating with my hands, so I have been learning needlework, knitting, beaded crocheting techniques all my life. I now use all these techniques in my work.

Crochetkween: I have said for years that I am an “asymmetric person.” There is something powerful that I appreciate about asymmetrical designing. It adds an appeal to a work of art and I often design in this way with my jewelry and other crochet.  Was it a conscious decision to make the necklaces asymmetrical?
Sebahat: Making necklaces asymmetrical was a conscious decision. I, too, believe that asymmetric shapes have a unique appeal that is intriguing. I first tried creating asymmetric shapes for my bracelets using freeform crochet techniques. I thought that they looked beautiful and started using asymmetric elements in my necklaces as well. So, it is not a coincidence that our Etsy store is named as “irregular expressions” after all.

Crochetkween: Are you using bead-crochet or another beadwork technique?
Sebahat: I think the crochet techniques that I use in my jewelry are a little bit different than the bead-crochet techniques. In bead-crochet, beads play a much more central role, patterns and motifs are often created by different combinations of colored beads. In my work, fiber and crochet techniques are much more important compared to the use of beads. I use a wide range of crocheting techniques to create unique shapes, patterns and textures with fiber, and most of these techniques can even be applied without adding any beads.

Crochetkween: We have access in the United States to yarns that are made in Turkey. Are you able to get all the yarns you want and need for your creations?
Sebahat: We have access to a great variety of yarns here. We also order yarns from abroad when we come across interesting yarns or colors that we want to use in our work.

Crochetkween: Describe the types of threads/yarns that you use in the jewelry.
Sebahat: I use cotton threads of various sizes, usually designed for crochet and embroidery applications. For the beaded parts, I prefer acrylic threads for their extra durability.

Crochetkween: Your daughter, Aysegul, has said, “My mother has the courage to try new things; she gives me courage.” What drives the design decisions that go into creating your jewelry?
Sebahat: My creative decisions are spontaneous. I often start with a rough idea. After crocheting the first few rows, I try adding different colors, patterns and shapes. I experiment with various threads and beads, until I find the right combination. If I am not satisfied with it, I unravel my last steps or just start from the beginning and leave the piece unfinished. I never start with a detailed design, but I make many small decisions at every step. It is time consuming, but I really enjoy this improvisational creative process. It gives me a lot of opportunities for experimentation, discovering new ideas and techniques.

Crochetkween: You have said, “I don’t feel my age when I am crocheting.” What is it about the crochet that takes you back to a feeling of youth?
Sebahat: Perhaps because I loved crocheting as a child, it takes me back to those days. I grew up in the countryside and used to spend hours watching birds, insects, wild flowers. When I crochet, I remember the flowers I used to pick, I remember searching for four-leaf clovers. Perhaps it is like playing, I am making things with my hands, playing with beads and threads, just exploring freely, without any plans in my mind and I am always learning something new.

Crochetkween: Crochet is such a healthful activity in many ways. It can also be hard on the hands when working such long hours. Does the crochet keep your fingers limber and relaxed or do you feel any negative effects?
Sebahat: I work for more than eight hours daily, so crocheting is little bit hard on my finger joints, but I try to keep them relaxed by taking as many breaks as possible.

Crochetkween: Have you heard of the Ott Lights? They are touted for their ability to mimic natural light and to reduce eyestrain. 
Sebahat: I do not have any serious problem with my eyesight, but the numbers in my eyeglass prescription are increasing every year! So I try to make sure to take regular breaks and relax my eyes by looking at distant objects. We have received recommendations about Ott Lights from our crocheter friends, but I have not had the chance to try them yet.

Part II of this interview about the business aspects of "irrgegular expressions" will continue on my blog post on May 12, 2015.


I have admired their work for many years now! Thank you for the interview - it's been a pleasure being able to peek into their amazing world.
Fabulous colorful, exhuberant and delightful. Makes me happy even just to see it!
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