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

lunch


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!

2 comments:

  1. This is incredible! It's amazing how much time and work people still put into making pretty things by hand. How neat that you got to try it as well. Man, you guys have had an amazing trip.

    * Julia

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