Deadhead, Night Roll & Bike Rave 2014

This past Saturday was cloudy but not raining, a perfect day to visit Deadhead, an art installation aboard a barge moored near Heritage Harbour at the Maritime Museum. Ty, Brubin and I headed out on the False Creek ferry, were dropped off at the dock, and carried by another shuttle ferry out to the barge.

From a distance the Deadhead barge looks pretty much like any working barge on the water, full of wood, metal, and strange to me machinery.

Once on board, the complexity of the construction is evident; many different levels, stairways, small rooms, and skylights have been erected on the base of an industrial barge.

The central cylindrical tower has been covered with a photographic mural and inside hangs a large hunk of wood which would be perfect as a surface on which to project images.

We all loved Deadhead; I think it would be a fabulous surface to paint and gouge into with printmaking tools.

Back on the dock at Heritage Harbour we saw this skittish little tortoiseshell cat hiding next to a small rowboat.

Before heading back, we spent a bit of time at the dog beach so that Brubin could race around on the sand and dig holes like a sand alligator.

It was hard to tell what the weather was going to do but later that evening we met a group of friends as scheduled for a night roll around the city. While waiting for everyone to arrive at Science World, we were treated to the passing parade of the undercover walk for below the belt cancers.

Finally we were all assembled and off we rolled through the downtown eastside to our first stop, the Casa de Gelato on Venables, with its incredible array of ice cream flavours.

We had to skirt around the Union Street Block Party and head down the back alleys where Ty was kind enough to block the street traffic for us.

Ty was very pleased with his bright red and blue cone, the blue staining his lips and tongue for many hours after.

From the Casa we rolled through Strathcona, across Hastings, down along the docks and over the Main Street Viaduct. After zooming down the viaduct’s off-ramp, Ty chased Winson who had decided to sprint off head, catching up to him as they neared Canada Place.

Along the waterfront, under Canada Place, and up onto the Convention Centre plaza we went, stopping for photo ops at the Olympic cauldron and overlooking the seaplane harbour.

The last half of the roll saw us along the seawall through Coal Harbour and around Stanley Park.

Lots of wildlife was out as the sun started to set; obviously the feeding was good because herons were perching hunting and sea otters were munching on crabs.

We watched a family of three otters as they cruised around looking for food. One lucky critter snagged a crab which he did not share with his brothers.

We had head that the Annual Vancouver Bike rave was happening that evening but had not yet seen them. However, while we were sitting at the Pirate Pub having a bite after the roll, the Rave road right past us, with a stop under the Burrard Bridge.

Many high fives all round as thousands of cyclists passed by our front row seats, decked out in lights and costumes and playing tunes on speakers mounted on bikes.

It was a fantastic show and a great way to finish up the roll. See more photos here.

See Greg’s photo and video collage here.

Canada Day on Granville Island

We had a fantastic warm, sunny day for Canada Day here on the coast. Ty and Brubin were dressed up in their red and white flag gear for a trip to Granville Island to enjoy the festivities there.

As we walked along the seawall towards the aquabus stop, we marvelled at the action on the water: pirate ships, tug boats, ferries, paddle boarders, kayakers – everyone was out on the water.

The Hornby Street aquabus stop was packed out with throngs heading over to Granville Island and Brubin was pretty excited about being part of the gang.

Once across False Creek, we took advantage of the opening of the wooden tug Master for public viewing to check it out. The Master was the last wooden hulled steam tugboat running up and down the coast of BC, built in 1922, and is beautifully maintained.

We also caught a few minutes of the free International Jazz Festival concert near the Market.

Since it was hot, we hung out in the shade of the Granville Bridge and watched red and white clad people walk by with their ice cream cones and bubble blowers.

Everyone was in a great mood and the vibe was festive.

Marching brass bands and disco queens entertained the crowds. The “free” (not sure why that was emphasised given that the event took place on the street) disco dance, with DJ, silver disco ball, and big-haired grooving disco ducks was great fun – of course I had to join in the action and danced up a sweat in the 25 degree sun.

We decided to wait for the parade coming down Railspur Alley on the patio of the Artisan Sake Studio where we had a ringside seat in the shade – huzzah!

We decided to sample the trio taster and cheese plate combination; the rice wine was very tasty, especially the original version, but the “cheese platter” was the world’s smallest, consisting of three crackers and the tiniest pieces of cheese I have every seen a restaurant try to get away with.

We had been told by a marshall that the Granville Island Canada Day Parade was “three times bigger than last year”, meaning it was eight minutes long instead of three … but we enjoyed it anyway, reminding us of the community parades that we had seen on Cortes Island.

Poor old Brubin was a bit too small to be able to see the passing parade.

Good Times and great fun had by all!

See more pics here.

Strawberry Festival

If it’s June, it must be Strawberry Festival time in the West End. Last Saturday was a beautiful sunny day for the annual West End Seniors Network strawberry extravaganza. This event, involving multitudes of volunteers, pounds of organic strawberries, and old time jazz music, happens at Barclay Heritage Square and includes the Manor, the Weeks House Diamond Centre for Living, and the Roedde House Museum, a collection of Victorian era restored mansions. The seniors art group for which I am the volunteer studio facilitator has participated in this event for a few years now with an art show and sale of paintings and cards.

The group is always excited to display its recent creations, mostly landscapes of Vancouver and flower paintings.

Many, many pounds of organic strawberries go into making the very popular strawberry shortcakes sold at the Festival, put together by a large team of volunteers.

New this year was a crafts tent where visitors could decorate wooden bird houses and make puppets, led by West End Seniors Network members.

Many attendees were quite interested in the works on display.

I am always amazed at the stylish outfits on display at this event. The Happy Hookers run one of the most popular booths, selling knitted and crocheted hats, scarves, and socks.

I love being a part of this energetic older group; it gives me hope that so many of our elders maintain active and productive lives well into their 80s and 90s.

See more pics here.

Chillin’ in Gusmuluk

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For the last few days of our trip, Maggie, Janet, and I are ensconced at the Otel Gumusluk a few feet from the ocean. After arriving Sunday, we had a short walk along the beach to the Club Gumusluk for dinner as the sun set over Rabbit Island and the bay.

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Along the beach the kabak lanterns adorned with pretty patterns and lights were lit as the sun sank lower in the sky to the delight of patrons of the Club’s ringside seats.

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We ordered a modest dinner of cold meze appetisers and were presented with a dessert and a beautiful tray of flowers, lights, chocolate, with a heavily watered-down shot of liqueur gratis by waiter Orhan, a small man about 25 years old, who took a real shine to Maggie.

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The finale to the evening was the beautiful flower blossoms scattered randomly onto the table.

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Our hotel is about one hundred meters from the beach; just in front of us is this empty lot with a beached fishing boat ready and waiting for some dedicated soul to refurbish it.

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Our breakfast feast takes place in this tarp-covered open air dining room.

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The beach here is very pleasant, gently curved and somewhat narrow with coarse grey sand and warm water. Tides here are practically non-existent, only varying by about two feet from high to low.

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Lots of energetic people were out on the water swimming, kayaking, and wind surfing.

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On our second evening we walked along the harbour checking out all the fish restaurants while being importuned by waiters as we passed, whispering the names of fish in our ears.

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Some of the restaurants are beautifully decorated. All have the same menu, variations on the theme of fish.

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We chose the last restaurant on the strip; the food was ok but not great. (In retrospect, it was actually not very good and too much money for what we had. Also, unlike at Club Gumusluk and a few of the other beach spots, it had no soft felt blankets on the backs of chairs for patrons who get cold in the evening … like me). The waiter took the photo below and somehow managed to change the camera setting to sepia – oh well.

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However, I did enjoy the prawns cooked right at our table even though they were a bit tough.

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I really love all the great kabak gourd decorations. Each of them has a design poked out in little holes through which the LED lights inside shine.

Below are a few photos of our hotel; this place is really wonderful, the weather is 30 degrees, blue sky, and sun with a gentle breeze blowing off the sea – heavenly.

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Tuesday, after a long and lazy breakfast at the ranch, Janet and I walked from the Hotel Gumusluk up to the Gumusluk Academy, a wander that took us along the back roads that parallel the sea, past the old Myndos Gate and then up through mandarin fields and houses to the hillside site of the Academy. Just below the Academy property a bunch of new concrete villas are being constructed, slightly obstructing what had been the beautiful view out over the valley I had had from my room five years ago. These beasts were resting in the shade of a mandarin tree as we cruised by.

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After a walk of about 45 minutes we arrived at the Academy, located on a hill above the village with an expansive view laid out in front of us. No one was visible around the place but we did see evidence of new artwork in the form of three clay sculptures which looked like a memorial to the victims of the Soma mine disaster.

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The people I had known from my visit were no longer there but we met the grounds keeper Mehmet and his wife as we walked along one of the driveways; I tried to explain who I was but am not sure he understood. In any case, we were given permission to look around and poked our noses into several of the buildings, none of which seemed to be occupied at the moment.

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The building housing the kitchen and dining room had been refurished and looked great; all the rest were more or less as I remembered them.

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Lots of frogs were jumping in the pond near the theatre and several were floating lazily on top of the water, sunning themselves.

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We headed back down to hill and decided to pop into the Paradise Garden apartments just down the road from the Hotel Gumusluk, checking it out to see if it were a spot that possibly Maggie might want to return to one of these days, since obviously Turkey is the place for her. Although we had just wanted to have a little look around the place, the owner insisted that we come and see inside one of the apartments, seated us in the shade, and brought us water and a coffee. He spoke almost no English so we had an amusing and protracted pseudo-conversation in which I looked up word after word in my little Turkish phrasebook to compose sentences, a process that took so long that I am sure he had forgotten what the first word was by the time I uttered the last. His wife brought out the reservation book and they were ready to sign us up right then and there.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lazing by the pool, with a little lap swimming interspersed with a little glass of wine drinking.

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Another night, another dinner, this time back at the Club Gumusluk, which, unlike the rest of the restaurants on the beach, had lots of patrons. There was no room in the main part of the restaurant so they seated us at a table on the beach, right at the water’s edge. Once again Orhan was super attentive, bringing us, on the house, three different desserts and a tray with chocolates and amaretto shots, all gratis, while he tried to persuade Maggie to go to the Halicarnas discoteque in Bodrum with him. Maggie didn’t bite this evening but we still have two nights left …

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Only one day left here in paradise before I return to the cold cloudiness of Vancouver, apparently not yet in summer. Yesterday the three of us walked up to the Gumusluk Market and emerged laden with bags of goodies, including pots and pans and clothing.

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After a hard few hours bargaining, a stop at the village teahouse was in order.

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This place is so beautiful – I will be very sorry to leave.

Rockin’ art show and carpets

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Alison had suggested to Eljay that we have a show of our work at the Tuesday Gokcebel Market; that wasn’t a go but the man who runs the village store and tea house agreed to let us have an exhibition under the pergola in the teahouse, located just outside the store at the top of the village a few steps from the Stone House. Everyone was pretty excited about it and Eljay went around the neighbourhood drumming up an audience for us.

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At the appointed time, 11 am on Saturday morning, we grabbed our oil, acrylic, and water colour paintings, collages, and drawings, as well as easels and boards to display them on, and headed up the road in an art convoy. We arranged the easels and boards around the periphery of the space and sat down with a cup of cay to wait for the art-loving hoards we were sure were just about to descend on us.

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Our first visitors were an archeologist and his wife who were very pleased that we were bringing culture to the small village; he and Eljay arranged to meet later on to discuss collaboration possibilities.

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Everyone was very enthusiastic but the most engaged visitors were a group of young boys who spent quite a long time looking intently at everything and pointing out details of the paintings to one another. They were especially interested in the things they recognised – views of the mosque, mostly – and the Ebru paper marbling.

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One young boy was very taken with Su’s Ebru work and she kindly gave him a small piece.

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Lidia and I gave the store proprietor our oil paintings as a thank you for letting us show in his space. He seemed pleased and told Eljay that he was going to put them up on his wall.

For our last afternoon and evening together, Eljay had arranged for us to go to a carpet village in the hills not too far from Hikmet’s place so we all piled into a dolmus hired by the carpet man after taking the show down. Our driver, an experienced dolmus dude, drove very quickly down the highway, too quickly for my liking (but then I am a bit paranoid), particulariy considering that as we went along a storm gathered and it started to rain buckets.Our man zoomed through huge puddles, throwing up gallons of water from the wheels as he sped along. Needless to say we made good time to the village, arriving in one piece as the rain subsided.

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We were met at the end of the line by Hyati, the village mayor, carpet purveyor, and money man, a very lively gentleman who showed us around the town. First we had a look at the wares for sale in the local store, all a bit dusty, then he took us up onto the roof to appreciate the view out over the valley. After Hikmet accidentally hosed him down with water he explained that next year, this rooftop area will be a restaurant and bar where he intends to hold dancing contests for women – he invited us all to come back and give it a whirl.

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This village seemed much wealthier than Hikmet’s; each home had a tractor and several farm animals, either in a separate out building or in the basement of the main house. There were also quite a few abandoned old stone houses, some very old, in amongst the newer ones.

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This cocky fellow walked busily back and forth crowing as we inspected his pen.

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Hyati explained how the villagers dyed the carpet wool with various vegetables, each giving the wool its characteristic colour.

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We had a look inside one of the village houses where a young teenage girl was more interested in the game show on TV than in the visitors to her home. I wondered how many people Hyati had brought trudging through this house over the years.

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We passed the teahouse full of men all staring at us and entered the mosque after donning head scarves; inside Hyati explained how the mosque functioned and gave both Su and I the Imam’s gear to wear.

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I thought it was a pretty good look, especially the fancy hat.

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When our village walkabout was complete, we walked to Hyati’s home and sat ourselves down in the large chill out area where his wife had prepared dinner for us. She looked none too thrilled to be hosting this group and Lidia inquired as to whether we could invite her to join us. However, that was a definite no go.

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When our dinner was concluded, we were ushered into the carpet showroom and the dance began. While Hyati described each carpet, his helpers, including Osman, the carpet co-op director, and our bus driver, brought out the merchandise one piece by one piece.

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As the carpet pile got bigger, and the booze was flowing, our group got more and more excited. Su broke the ice with the first buy and then it was off to the races.

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Carpets were flying and a buying frenzy ensued, with almost all of our group emerging with a treasured purchase. Liz was hesitating, wondering about the size, and the men tried to encourage her by wrapping her up in the prospective carpet but unfortunately it ended up being too big for her space. Great fun was had by all!

Watercolour in Gumusluk

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One of our last painting excursions here at the Stone House was the afternoon trip to Gumusluk for water colour painting of water and reflections to practice the techniques Eljay had discussed in the morning. The fourty minute drive took us along the coast around the peninsula from Yalikavak to the small former fishing village of Gumusluk, in antiquity the Carian city of Myndos, ruled by Mausolus, he of the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus fame.

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Gumusluk is lovely and, because of its heritage status, relatively unspoiled. No mega developments are allowed here and excavations are ongoing. Some of the old city walls and foundations can be seen under the water in the bay and archeologists are excavating Rabbit Island, just over the causeway.

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Maggie, Janet, and I picked a spot at the first beach loungers we saw, and set up our painting gear there with a great view of the headland and the Greek islands beyond. On the beach I was delighted to see several gigantic korek plants painted white festooned with hanging kabak lanterns.

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After a hard afternoon of watercolour painting, we assembled and straggled into the beachside restaurant for a nice fish dinner before rolling back to the ranch satiated.

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Boating from Bodrum

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Eljay had planned a boat trip for us with her friend Burhan but we had no idea that the boat would be so fantastic. Everyone was amazed as we were escorted to the dock to see a seventy foot teak two masted gulet docked and waiting for us. I loved seeing the smiles on the faces of the group as they boarded the gangplank.

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The boat had several levels of seating area, all with pads and padded seats for lounging, and a huge covered deck area with a large table around which all of us could fit for lunch.

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After pulling away from the Bodrum harbour we cruised past the castle and around the coastline to Aquarium Bay, a protected cove with many small colourful fish. A few boats were already there when we arrived but our captain proceeded to come in close to shore and take the best mooring spot in the bay.

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Almost everyone jumped into the incredible cerulean blue water here and enjoyed a swim in the very salty water. Maggie, Su, and Liz did a few little synchronised swimming moves to the delight of onlookers.

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As we cruised over to Karaada (Black Island), the clouds massed above us and it looked like rain but when we turned the corner of the island, the clouds dispersed and it got very sunny and hot. Passing several tourist boats, we anchored at the island for lunch.

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Our captain was also the chef; he used to cook for a restaurant in Istanbul before becoming a boat captain and was his food ever delicious. Lunch consisted of cigar borek, pastry with cheese and spinach, rice pilaf, a green salad, and whole grilled sea bream fish – delicious!

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After lunch we were lounging deckside and what should pull up but a small runabout, the ice cream boat. Barb was kind enough to buy me a Magnum bar for dessert.

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A great day out on the water was had by all.

 

 

Sandima and Kudur

While most of our group went to Bodrum by dolmus on Wednesday afternoon, Eljay drove Allison, Ann, and I to Sandima and Kudur, near Yalikavak, an abandoned stone village on the hill above the town. As in many of the other villages around here, the people decided to move down close to the ocean to grow fruit rather than be shepherds on the mountain top, a less economically viable way of life.

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The fifteen minute drive up from Yalıkavak village winds past a number of old white stone houses that stand empty and crumbling on the rocky hillside overlooking the bay. The houses are generally old Bodrum-style stone houses bound by layers of whitewash. But among the abandoned houses, there is one dwelling that is still occupied. Erkoca, a sculptor, and his wife, Nurten Değirmeci, an artist, came from Istanbul to the village seven years ago to take up residence and make their studio and home in the village, the Nuri Sanat Evi,. We saw Erkoca zoom past us down the hill on a little skooter as we were coming up.

Our first stop was the tiny cemetery with its few untended graves, one of which had a tiny marble turban atop a pillar inscribed with calligraphy. Inside the cemetery was a strange whitewashed structure that looked somewhat like a marble cistern but we could not figure out what it might have been used for.

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The shells of Sandıma’s houses are clustered in two halves, divided by a quite deep creek bed, with a lovely short waterfall running in spring beside the highest houses. The town used to be at the crossroads of a network of ancient walking and stock paths that crisscrossed the peninsula before the age of the motorcar. It is thought that the paths were first set by the hill-dwelling Lelegian tribes, but today they are the last preserve of hikers fighting a losing battle against development. From our vantage point up above the Nuris Sanat Evi we had a fantastic view out over Yalikavak and the sea out to the peninsula of Kudur. In the distance we could see a shepherd walking his flock and heard his sing-song calls floating over the sound of the rustling wind.

Back down the hill we drove over to the Kudur peninsula, first stopping briefly at the public beach where a few small tents had been pitched, and then zipping around to the other side to see the cliff tomb remains carved into volcanic tufa near the top of the hillside. A small set of stone stairs led up to the edge of one large tomb with a panoramic view out over the coastline. I was surprised to see how far the former fishing village of Yalikavak, now the “St Tropez of Turkey” had spread.

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Magical Ebru

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Today we were introduced to a wonderful art technique – ebru, Turkish paper marbling. Hikmet laid out all the supplies on our outdoor dining table and explained how the procedure worked. A kind of sizing or gum Arabic is mixed into water to create a thickish gluey liquid paste which is then poured into shallow trays of various sizes. Hikmet had several small jars of coloured inks made from animal bile, an oil-based medium, and brushes, metal pokers, and paper.

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Into the bed of liquid she flicked brushes loaded with ink; these ink drops then spread open on the surface of the water. Into these drops she flicked other coloured drops, building up a layer of colour covering the shallow surface of the bath. A sheet of paper was then carefully put onto the resulting patterning, pressed down lightly, and then dragged through the water and pulled off, the coloured pattern coming off the surface of the water onto the paper – magic! The results were really great.

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Each of us made several sheets of ebru using various techniques to build up the patterning. The small metal poker was used to draw onto the surface of the ink, causing the circular forms to become hearts or wavy lines. As well, we had three small rakes to draw through the ink, making other kinds of patterning.

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After the paper is drawn out of the bath, it is then washed and hung up to dry. A bit unfortunately, the day was really, really blustery so the pieces of paper were swinging and dancing around quite violently on the clothes line. Barb and Maggie both printed onto their clothing, with good results. See more info on paper marbling here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_marbling

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From Acrylic Painting to Ephesus

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Monday’s art activities included “breaking the rules”, fauvist still lives a la turca. Eljay broke out the kits of bright acrylic colours and everyone proceeded to revel in the sun and the glory of unadulterated colour. Several people made more than one painting; it was very enjoyable to spend the sunny day in the garden painting.

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Tuesday morning dawned grey and not too hot, a perfect day for experiencing the large ruin site of Ephesus, the crown jewel of Turkish ancient cities, billed as the best-preserved site in the Eastern Mediterranean. I have been here on a couple of previous occasions; this time the somewhat poor weather meant a more pleasant visit, with fewer visitors and less discomfort from the heat and blazing sun of previous years. We boarded the bus at eight am and hit the road heading north, with a stop in a Guvercinlik village harbour tea shop for tea and pastries.

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After a drive of about two and a half hours we arrived at Ephesus and spent a further two and a half hours wandering through the ruins, spending some time atop the highest rung of seats in the bouleterion and the great theatre. I saw a few more areas of the site this time, including the inscription museum section. Barb and I also spent a bit of time in the Church of Mary, where the octagonal adult baptismal font fascinated me. It was a keyhole shaped pool with stairs at either end, allowing the person being baptised to immerse herself in water up to about neck depth. Surprisingly, Lidia and I both ran into Mete, our guide from a previous visit to Turkey, now based in Kusadasi and leading day trips to Ephesus.

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Our ruin visit concluded, we drove to Selcuk for lunch, scarfing down a huge pile of pide, kofte, and tea while watching a beautiful and large van cat, white with one blue and one green eye, watch us. After lunch shopping was necessary for most of the group, including purchases of jewellery and green leather boots. Overhead we could see gigantic storks winging their way around the city. Selcuk is known for its storks; the huge birds roost on almost every tall post, including light standards and mosque minarets.