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Gunay F. Uyan
Tell us something about your background and how did you become involved in needlework?
I come from a long line of stitchers on both sides of my family. Before I even started school, my mother and grandmothers had taught me how to knit, crochet, cross-stitch and needlepoint! I learned how to sew soon afterwards and have been enjoying these skills ever since. I should add that I was born and raised in Istanbul, where stitching is a passion with many people. My mother is a seamstress by training and has been able to assist me in any stitchery project I wanted to get involved in from a very early age. She often designed our clothes and has even helped me sew many of my earlier designs in clothing, multi pocketed tote bags and wall hangings.
I studied Computer Science in college and was immediately drawn to computer graphics. For my thesis, I worked on a method which is also applicable to representing needle-arts projects in computer generated environments. Yes, there is nothing like the feel of fibers in your hands, but programming is also very rewarding in many ways.
Do you involve family members in any aspect of your design/teaching business?
My husband, Jonathan and I will be celebrating our 24th wedding anniversary this month. We have two wonderful boys, Ryan and Troy, who have become two of our best friends.
The entire family is involved in Turquoise Graphics & Designs in their own way and at varying degrees of interest. Jonathan is a great help in giving me constructive feedback on the designs. Our boys are still in school, but as they find time, Troy is self training in web and graphics design while Ryan assists with other aspects of the business. Even my parents contribute in their own way. I feel very blessed to have all of their support.
If your other hobbies or interests have influenced your craft, do you incorporate or combine these elements in your needlework?
I enjoy all forms of fiber arts. I have been knitting from a very early age and often create my own knitting designs and knit them for my family members. I enjoy working with wool, mohair etc. Many of these fibers are available for cross-stitch projects and I try to incorporate them into my designs as much as possible.
I also enjoy beadwork tremendously, particularly woven beadwork. With all the beautifully colors of beads available I can't help but add them to my designs where I believe they will add to the finished work.
One of my earlier hobbies is painting. I especially enjoy painting sculpted objects such as lighthouses, or replicas of ancient artifacts. In painting I try to create authenticity and age the objects, or weather them. I try to incorporate that aged look into some of my designs as well, and that is one of the reasons why I like to work with over-dyed fibers where appropriate.
Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
Inspiration comes from everywhere and everything around me; from a little beetle on my deck, a flower in my vase, or a trip to the Aegean Coast. I have interests in a wide range of topics (Archaeology, Ancient Languages, Computer Science and Nature to name a few) and that really helps in keeping the projects coming. In fact, perhaps I have interests in way too many topics, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I have tried other forms of expression (drawing, painting etc.) over the years but creating the designs with fibers is where my heart lies.
How has modern technology – charting programs, color printers, computers, software programs, and the Internet, etc. impacted your style or your work?
I got into the Information Technology business in the 1980s. In fact, I had plans of writing my own charting software, but with full time work and then the kids, life got pretty busy and I never had a chance to work on that. Since I like technology, I find it a time saver to use a program to chart and create my designs. It also gives me a chance to try out the design on different fabric/fiber colors to see if a more attractive match can be found.
I find the Internet particularly helpful in promoting my designs. Turquoise web site is my connection to the shop-owners and stitchers. I often check the web statistics and am always pleased to see that we have visitors from all around the world.
Do any of your designs have a special story behind them?
My sister had just had her second baby when I released my fifth design. She loves to stitch but prefers designs that she can stitch quickly. Even though she had already stitched one of my designs (Child's Laughter) she requested that I design some others that were quick to stitch. After visiting her and the baby, I decided to design "Lady Bug": something quick and fun to stitch; but very decorative. In fact, I enjoyed designing and stitching it so much that I released a total of six designs in that series so far.
Her third baby is due any day now and I will be designing something special for her birth.
Where do you display your work or exhibit?
Where are your designs available or how can consumers purchase them?
My work is displayed mainly online at the Turquoise web site at www.tgdcharts.com. About once a month I update the web site and post the latest releases. I also send out an e-mail at that time, anyone who is interested can sign up to receive this e-mail which I am hoping will turn into a newsletter in the coming months.
The designs are available from our distributors or from Turquoise directly. I strongly urge all of our retail customers to support their local needle-arts stores. With a growing collection of designs and after some customer inquiries, we recently added retail sales including some specialty packs for some of the designs (fabric, beads, specialty fiber etc.)
How did you get involved teaching?
In my home economics class when I was in middle school (in Istanbul), for several weeks we had split the class into girls and boys. The girls were to knit and stitch, while the boys did woodworking projects. One of the boys had no aptitude for woodworking that our instructors thought he would be better off learning to knit : Much to my surprise our teacher assigned me to be his teacher. Later, again much to my surprise, I had taught him how to knit! It was both funny and rewarding. I remember thinking to myself 'if I can teach a boy how to knit – imagine what I can teach the girls".
Over the years, I did some informal teaching to family and friends who were interested in learning how to cross-stitch, needlepoint or knit. And recently I have been teaching more formal classes when there is interest.
How have the Caron Collection threads impacted or influenced your designs?
Caron Collection's colors in particular are what drew me to them in the first place, in addition to the quality of the threads. My favorite Caron Collection threads are the Waterlilies, and among them the color 'Kelp" in particular. Whenever I want to work with silk and I lay out the silk threads to choose colors for a design, my hand always reaches out to "Kelp" for some reason.
Sometimes, I see a Waterlilies color and a design materializes in front of my eyes, just from a color! I call that a pretty strong influence on my designs and am delighted at the color variations that are available.
What kind of upcoming projects or plans do you have?
With an ever thickening "pending designs" folder, I am always quite busy. I started a new series "Ladies - Mistresses - Goddesses" and I hope to release a few more designs in that series. I have been really humbled with the response to my first design in this series.
I also plan on working on some samplers which have been in planning stages for some time. And, of course, continue adding more to the already existing design lines.
One of my other plans in the near future is to post some classes online at our web site for beginners and also for stitchers who are ready to try something new, like a specialty stitch.
Needlework is our passion. How can we pass our enthusiasm and skills along to future generations in a way that is appealing and exciting to them?
I think teaching our kids, grand kids, and our neighbors' kids at an early age is a great way to get people interested in needlework and to pass on the pleasures of stitching. These skills are so easy to learn, even at a later age in life. I strongly believe that stitching together (and teaching in particular) creates a strong bond between people. If you can, plan a monthly stitching social at your house and invite friends and family to bring a project to stitch. Whenever you can, stitch outdoors, at a park or at the beach. Not only is natural light great for work, but perhaps other people will show an interest and you will have an opportunity to teach someone your skills.
Being born and raised in Istanbul, I should mention that in middle school, our home economic class contained sections in sewing, cross stitch and knitting in addition to all the other fun stuff you study for this class. I would like to see, perhaps volunteers at middle schools to teach students who are interested in all forms of needlework. It is a life long skill that truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
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