Irem Yazici: Embroidery in miniature
Irem Yazici was born in Istanbul Turkey. She studied public relations and advertising at Anadolu University.
Irem says: I didn’t like my department and I didn’t want to work in an agency. I feared when I graduated, I would be sucked into a lifestyle that I did not want. So I stopped going to classes and delayed my graduation. With dropping the classes, I had so much free time. Then I suddenly took an interest in embroidery. I spontaneously bought some fabric and threads. That was the best decision I made in my life….
In this interview, Irem reveals how she transfers images from her imagination into her delightful miniature hoop landscapes and explains exactly why embroidery is so precious to her.
The feeling of becoming whole
TextileArtist.org: What initially attracted you to textiles as a medium?
Irem Yazici: When I was a kid, me and my family would go to my grandmother’s place at semesters. She was such a good tailor and she had a whole bunch of embroidery supplies. I really loved to mess with them.
My mother was trying to teach me how to use them properly. She taught me to crochet and cross stitch. Her teachings were so magical to me. I remember I was fascinated how the thread, with the help of a needle, became something totally different.
Years later when I held the needle and threads, I felt the feeling of becoming whole which I never experienced before. I was fascinated by repetitive patterns, embroidery equipment and textures.
In my eyes, embroidery is very precious. It can take some time to work even on small areas but the results are equally rewarding. That has a pretty big impact on my bond with embroidery.
And, more specifically, how was your imagination captured by stitch?
My first works were a recoil of embroidery being used for only traditional and decorative purposes. The idea of mixing the inherent tradition of embroidery with modern ideas seemed interesting to me.
At first, I did some miniature landscapes and put them into small bottle caps. After some time, I started doing pieces directly from my imagination. I began to stitch not only with traditional methods but with beads and sequins.
Since the old times, embroidery has a very natural and a strong relationship with clothes. I think the embroidery is an important part of what gives a dress a soul. To transform a very basic dress to a unique piece of art is possible with embroidery. Working on accessories like collars, purses and pins, making embroidery, to be realised as a usable art form, feels very refreshing.
What or who were your early influences and how has your upbringing influenced your work?
Back in my childhood, my brother and I were constantly making each other believe that what we were doing was magic. Even if it was momentary, the idea of there is something beyond our comprehension was felt precious.
This feeling is one of the elements that made me who I am today. I am trying to complement that feeling with my works today.
Exploring my artist self
What was your route to becoming an artist?
Unlike other textile artists, I never went to a fine arts faculty. In 2014, I started embroidery and as an embroidery artist, I’m learning step by step and teaching myself. I’m exploring my artist self directly with embroidery.
Tell us a bit about your chosen techniques.
I try to use different embroidery techniques together. Enriching texture to give it a visual dynamism is very important for me.
Mostly I try to use embroidery techniques on patterns that match their real life texture. I enjoy combining these traditional techniques with the modern patterns. I also like fancy and intricate embroideries and I wouldn’t hesitate to decorate my works with sequins and beads.
How do you use these techniques in conjunction with pin embroidery?
I am a very detail oriented person in my works. Because of that, I try to work on a small space as accurately as possible. Working on a miniature scale is very relaxing and satisfying for me. I started making pins because I believe their effect on a dress is huge.
I sometimes try to embellish and dimension them with a single bead or a sequin.
How would you describe your work and where do you think it fits within the sphere of contemporary art?
My works consist of quirky, dreamy and surreal worlds and characters.
Even if I don’t know where to place my work within contemporary art right now, I do think they share similar characteristics with both illustration and fibre art and I try to achieve a balance between them.
Do you use a sketchbook? If not, what preparatory work do you do?
I use sketch books but I still haven’t made the habit of carrying them wherever I go.
At times when I have no sketch book with me, a piece of paper or a desk make fine temporary replacements, not to forget about the ideas that I’ve just have. Then I transfer them to my sketchbook to gather all ideas together in one place.
Formations from the imagination
Tell us about your process from conception to conclusion.
Everything develops around a simple image which happens in my head. After that, I try to fit the image in a proper world. All of these are part of the process which happens in my mind.
It can take some time to reach its final form. So I can say that the layers that come from the first image are conceptually planned parts. Then I illustrate the idea and make it better with the final changes to transfer on fabric.
The colour of background plays a decisive role on what the other colours will be. Colour palette usually shapes up when I working on the piece.
After I finish, I have them framed or just leave the piece in its hoop.
What environment do you like to work in?
I am at my best when I work in peaceful and quiet places. Even though I very much enjoy a tidy and organised work place, that sometimes can be very difficult with embroidery since using a lot of different materials at the same time can easily cause a mess.
What currently inspires you?
I started meditating recently and I use images from my spiritual experiences. Apart from that, I draw inspiration from both illustrators and fibre artists. To name a few Davor Gromilovic and Paulo Duro are the biggest inspirations in my most recent works. Also, Anna Jane Searle’s texture works have inspired me lately.
What piece of equipment or tool could you not live without?
I cannot imagine how would I embroider without my embroidery hoop stand. When I first started, I had no idea such equipment existed. I was holding the hoop with my hands all the time. Because of that I experienced neck pains and had to take physical rehabilitation sessions.
With the hoop stand, I ease my pain that my arms had to endure and I don’t need to learn anymore. It is very precious to me.
Do you give talks or run workshops or classes?
I’ve never done these before but I decided that I might as well as run workshops since people request it.
Between next May and October, I’ll be arranging workshops at Burgazada, Turkey.
For more information visit: https://www.instagram.com/_.baobap._/
Let us know what your favourite aspect of the artist’s work is by leaving a comment below.