Wednesday, August 31, 2011

more lake song kol, kyrgyzstan:

More photos from beautiful Lake Song Kol. And incase you are wondering, staying in a yurt is extremely comfortable and cosy! Highly recommend!

Next: more photos from around Kyrgyzstan and then it's on to the town of Osh.

our yurt

a massive storm rolling through

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

lake song kol, kyrgyzstan:

After our felt demonstration, we were off, heading for Lake Song Kol where we would be spending two nights staying with Kyrgyz nomads - in a yurt. I was beyond excited, as it has always been a dream of mine to stay in a yurt.
During the summer months, Kyrgyz herders take their livestock to higher ground up in the mountains where the grass is lush and good for feeding their animals - setting up yurts for their families and for visitors to come and stay.
Lake Song Kol was probably the highlight of our time Kyrgyzstan, it was just breathtaking - and the exact yurt experience I was always hoping for. We were not only surround by the most beautiful scenery, but by lots of animals, roaming around freely. In particular, there were lots of horses which just added to whole picture-esque experience.

More photos from Song Kol to come!

the drive up


how cute is this guy!?

Monday, August 29, 2011

kochkor, kyrgyzstan:

After we got all our visas finalised, we left Bishkek for the town of Kochkor. This would be our lunch stop before heading up the mountains to Lake Song Kol. Kochkor is famous for it's felt, and is THE place to go if you want to buy quality felt products from Kyrgyzstan. These range from huge shyrdaks (carpets made out of felt that are used in yurts) slippers, hats, jewellery - anything!
I'm a big fan of felt, ever since learning to make it back in my uni days, so it was a must that we visit a home where we could see first-hand how it was all traditionally made.
Below are images of how a shyrdak is created. Shyrdaks can be made in two different ways, either by laying all the felt out on straw mat, constructing the shapes and composition, then forming it together as one whole piece; or by cutting felt shapes and sewing it all together by hand. It was incredibly interesting to watch and learn. It was also very inspiring, talking to our host about how she comes up with ideas for her designs. To keep her designs unique, she uses her dreams as a main source of inspiration. It was a nice reminder to try and get back to doing some more of my own thing outside of work, which is an extremely commercial design environment due to our clients - and to also not get too caught up in trends and what not, but to look at what inspires and interests me, to ensure my work is unique. I walked away feeling really refreshed and with a gazillion ideas, hence one of the reasons I think I have real soft spot for Kyrgyzstan, it was an incredibly refreshing and inspiring place.
We also ended up buying our very own (huge) shyrdak, so once that arrives I'll be sure to post some photos so you can get a better idea of what they look like.

Next: our yurt stay at Lake Song Kol.

inside a yurt, with shyrdaks on the floor


first the wool is cleaned by beating it with metal poles to remove debris

more beating - this can take hours

the wool is laid out on a straw mat, with the shapes all created by hand...

all the patterns created are traditional, representing forms found in nature...

the wool is then drenched with hot water...

...and rolled up tightly in the mat

it is then wrapped in fabric with rope tied around the centre - which is then pulled and stamped on using one's feet...

...whilst music is played, to help develop a consistent rhythm

like so... 

the near-finished product. it will take a few goes before it is completely finished...

drawing the shapes to cut out for the shyrdak...

cutting - there are two pieces (different colours) been cut at the same time...

the pieces are then inverted...

...and sewn together

two completed pieces...

...andy having a go!

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