Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tbilisi Tips: Enamel Workshop

So earlier this year, I took an enamel class at the Embassy and wrote about it here. Sometime late spring, the CLO office (which coordinated the class), switched to an organization from the Tserovani IDP settlement.

An IDP settlement is for Internally Displaced Persons. Tserovani is a settlement for people displaced from the South Ossetia area of Georgia during the 2008 War. About 7000 people live in this settlement (note the red roofed houses go on practically forever).

With the help of the Peace Corps, some women from the village have established a social enterprise, Ikorta, that leads a hands-on enamel jewelry workshop (I totally stole that wording from their info sheet).

The workshop runs on Saturdays from 11am - 5 pm (we've ended early both times.....). Due to the size of their shop and assistance people will need, class size is limited to 6 people (with a minimum of 3 people). You are served coffee or tea, with a light lunch made from traditional dishes from the South Ossetia area. They will provided transportation for groups upon request.

Prior to arrival, they will ask what jewelry items you are thinking of making so they can have a number of designs to choose from (we've made pendants, earrings, rings, and cuff links). They go to the gold market in the city and pick up the silver forms/ribbon.

I picked some rectangular cuff links to make for Richard.

You begin by using the tweezers, the end of the paint brush, and the scissors to mold the thin silver ribbon into the designs you want.

I went with circles because they are easy :)

You adhere your designs with a powdered glue to your item.

The women will help you with your shapes too!

The next step is to pick out your colors (this might possibly be the hardest part!). I went with orange (looks white) and teal for the turtle I was making Mason; dark red and black for the cuff links I was making Richard.

Then using your brush, you put the enamel powder into your jewelry.

The women will fire the jewelry in the kiln (note the temp....769 °C).

Coming out of the kiln, the colors will be all black. As it cools, the color returns. Depending on the depth of the jewelry, you will do this portion of the process two or three times.

You then paint a clear top coat onto the jewelry and the women fire it one more time. At this point you are finished. In the evenings, after work the women meet back at the house and will seal and polish the jewelry into the final products.  They will then coordinate delivery to you within a week.

The cufflinks and turtle I did.

The cufflinks Jim made and the pendant Ann made.

The cufflinks Sarah made and the rings Crystal made.

Note: I will keep editing this post and adding more photos of cool things we have made.

The women will meet during the week and work on projects of their own. They will use these items to sell at bazaars/fairs. You can also purchase additional items already made (I've bought some earrings). They will also have items other women in the settlement have made (I got some super cute wool felt snowmen).

I have gone to two classes already at Ikorta with a group of ladies from the Embassy (the last class, I brought my in-laws....the women will share stories of their artistic and cultural heritage (stole that line too)). We are already talking about when our next class will be.

Enamel Jewelry Workshop
Tserovani IDP Settlement, Row 11, Cottage 1624 (remember they will provide transportation)
Saturdays 11am- 5pm (reserve your place at least 5 days in advance)
80-100 GEL depending on the piece you make (already made items are priced 35+ GEL), cash only
Contact info:
uketesimomavlisatvis@gmail.com or 599 410 250

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dubai, UAE: Burj Khalifa

On our last day in Dubai (again with Tbilisi's early morning arrivals our flight didn't leave until after midnight), we headed to the world's tallest manmade structure....the Burj Khalifa.

According their website, the Burj Khalifa is 828 meters (2716.5 feet) tall. It touts the highest number of stories, the highest occupied floor, and the highest observation deck to name a few.

We opted for the basic ticket that takes you to the 124th floor (you can pay 4x as much to go all the way to the 148th floor).

I am well aware that Dubai was built from nothing in the desert. I still commented to Richard that everything was so brown/sand colored.....from the ground there is lots of landscaping and you don't notice all the sand as much.

 Looking up from the 124 floor to the top of the building.

Note the shadow of the Burj Khalifa.

You can see the 'World of Islands' that I mentioned was across from Jumeriah Beach.

Buildings, buildings everywhere as far as the eye can see!

An ariel shot of the fountain used in the nightly water/light show. We watched the show the night before from the little bridge to the left of the picture.

I found it interesting that construction began in 2004,

and the building was completed in 2010. Those 6 years seem like a long time in one respect, but then when you admire the hugeness of the building, it seems like such a short time.

Afterwards, we had lunch in the Dubai Mall (it is connected to the tourist entrance to the Burj Khalifa). Then we both went our separate ways to explore the mall (I'm not as interested in electronic stores and Richard could care less about going into to Sephora).

Overall, we had a great trip. We brought the kids back some surprises which made their day, but we are definitely planning on bringing them back to visit.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Dubai, UAE: Arabian Gulf

After our sunrise hot air ballooning adventure, we made it back to the hotel in time for the free breakfast and then caught the shuttle to Jumeirah Public Beach. Jumeriah Beach sits on the Arabian Gulf (also listed as Persian Gulf on some maps). On this sunny December morning, the beach was practically empty.

When we climb on some jetties, we could see the 'World of Islands'. These are some 300 islands that were constructed of dredged sand to make a map of the world (see wikipedia for their aerial photo).

Being a marine biologist and all, I must explore the tide pools.....Richard followed me out there.

Limpets, urchins, barnacles, oh my!

Wishing I had brought my snorkel gear....but with the number of urchins in the water that may have been dangerous.....

Barnacles on a limpet.....(I have never denied I'm a science dork)....

My view for a couple hours. Richard went exploring/walking the beach, while I took full advantage of the fact I was at the beach with no kids and I just laid back and soaked up some vitamin D.

By noon, it had actually gotten quite a bit warm. Richard and I walked the shore a bit, I picked up some shells, and then we waded into the water. It was actually pretty warm (mid 70s). We walked over towards the jetties again and checked out some more wildlife.

Close up of urchins.

Fish, fish and more fish......I wish I had a field guide.

We took some photos of the Burj Khalifa in skyline behind us....or maybe I started to grow a unicorn horn....I like that idea!

After our fun in the sun, we showered and the headed down to the Gold Souk (market). 

Its was much brighter and more open air than the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, but we were somewhat disappointed in how aggressive some of the salesman were. If you walked by, they would start inviting you to look in their shop and continue following you and repeatedly invite you in. It's possible we were just overly tired from our early morning ballooning adventure and then 4.5 hours at the beach. We did stop to look in one window, which contained the world record for largest ring!

I'm not sure if it is even possible for a single person to lift that ring, let alone wear it! The Gold Souk is located near the banks of the Dubai Creek. There were a large number of boats/barges as well as mountains of boxes being delivered/loaded along the creek.

Near all these barges you can catch one of the many abras (water taxi) ferrying people across the creek. We were offered a private creek tour for 100 dirham, we opted for the 1 dirham group taxi straight across. 

Another abra crossing the creek.

A mosque we could see from the water.

After wandering around the Fabric Souk. There were still somewhat aggressive salesman, but not as bad on this side of the creek. It looked as if most shops you would pick our a fabric and then they would make to order the garment you wanted. 

Afterwards, we headed back to the Dubai Mall for dinner and to watch the Dubai Fountain light show.

We also go a decent shot of almost all the Burj Khalifa (which gets its own post).