Last summer in 2014, I went to Istanbul to attend The Third International Conference on Cloud and Molecular Aesthetics. It was an amazing gathering of artists, curators, scientists and theorists…convening to explore intersections of art, science and culture. I was there for a week…so had time to kick around the city, take photographs, shop for spices and hunt for treasures. My conference buddy (& keynote speaker!) Anne Balsamo and I visited the Spice and Antique Markets one day. We stumbled upon a unique dealer who had had his shop in the market for 50+ years. It was 3/4 shop and 1/4 workshop…as he makes chandeliers and light fixtures from old parts and pieces he collects. GOLDMINE!
I spent a full hour with him…looking through his ‘1/4 workshop’ and finding odds and ends that I wanted to use to make jewelry. He told me many of the pieces were very old…as in Ancient Rome, old. I was in heaven. I think altogether my pile of little pieces amounted to about $75. When I got home, I spread all the pieces out on my bed and marveled. Not sure what prompted me to look up the legalities of exporting such things…but I did. And I found the Turkish Antiquities Warning site that strongly warned against trying to bring “antiquities” out of the country. The law is there for more large scale export issues…but it got me rattled. I had a few more days to ruminate on getting my Turkish booty out of the country. I researched some of the individual pieces…and found I had some true Roman Empire rings and other ancient chain & medallions. I wore as many of the pieces I could for my remaining days, still not sure what I would bring home. Finally…my risk averse nature got the best of me. I bundled up all of the questionable pieces, put them in a sack and left them on my bedside table in my hotel room when I left for the airport.
I did bring a fair amount of unquestionably non-Roman antiquity pieces…and vowed to make some special pieces with them to remember my Istanbul adventure. These 2 pieces are the necklaces I made for my inspiring friend and mentor, Anne Balsamo, who I had the great fortune of getting to know throughout the conference. She was just in Seattle last week for her Distinguished University of Washington Katz Lecture…and when I met with her, she was wearing them both!