I was on a stroll through the downtown area in my hometown last week and came across a brand new shop filled with beautiful textiles, it was like discovering a new world of exotic goods just down the street from my house, such bliss!
I struck up a conversation with the owner Julie and we chatted for over an hour. Julie has been traveling to exotic countries all her life, which gave her an appreciation for different cultures and the handwork done by the artisans in different countries. After her first trip to Turkey she started importing goods for her former store in Palm Springs but she has relocated to the Bay Area.
Julie and her mother have just opened a beautiful store Bohca Bazaar in downtown Petaluma, California. Our town is famous for its antique stores and we have many, so it is wonderful to have a very different boutique filled with authentic textiles and home goods imported from Turkey and Uzbekistan, every inch inside is such a visual treat!
Julie considers her partner in Istanbul family, she has stayed with him many times and they have a long time business relationship. It was so nice to connect with a person who speaks the design language with extensive knowledge of the history and craftsmanship of authentic Kilim, Suzani, Ikat and similar woven and embroidered fabrics from the Middle East and Asia.
Julie was kind enough to answer all of my questions and take pictures in her shop, I learned so much! The following are quotes from Julie’s answers to my question, enjoy learning a bit more about these beautiful textiles from an expert!
What are the recognizable differences between Kilim, Suzani, and Ikat?
Kilim is a traditional Turkish woven wool flat weave carpet with geometric repeating patterns. It is made with strands of vegetable dyed wool knotted onto warps and held together by pressing the wefts tightly, the Kilim motifs are made by interweaving the variously colored wefts and warps.
Suzani is traditional to Uzbekistan and is needle work on a cotton or silk background, it is very distinctive, using a chain, satin and buttonhole stitch along with couching. Couching is laying a thread around a design and then adding a second stitch to secure it, giving is a raised feel around the motif.
Patterns often are repeating floral designs, and can include vines or birds. Really high quality vintage versions are available, often with a black cotton background and silk stitching. More rudimentary Suzani can be found, they are not as expensive but whimsical and fun and a great piece for the beginning collector. Reproductions are generally only in print work.
Suzanis in good condition are best displayed on a wall, bedcover, throw, etc. but you can take a damaged suzani, salvage the the pieces in good condition and make bench seats, cushions, poufs, ottomans as a lovely addition to any room.
Ikat is made with a resist dye process, to create the patterns the threads are bound or tied off, dyed and repeated, then woven together in a weft, warp, or double Ikat method. The ikat we carry is from Uzbekistan, however Ikat weave can be found in Indonesia, Central and South America, Central Asia. Okinawa on of the Japanese islands is one of the few places you will find double Ikat.
The fabric for the Ikat pillows we carry in the shop are woven/resist dyed velvet on one side and hand woven resist/dyed silk on the opposite side in complementary patterns and colors.
The Kilim furniture is made by my partner and they are are of Turkish origin. The sofas take 4 Kilim rugs to make, this is very difficult because each Kilim is one of a kind. When designing the piece, my partner has to study the patterns of different carpets in order to create a cohesive pattern. Smaller pieces like poufs, ottomans, and benches can be made from the best remaining piece from and old carpet.
Because our textiles are authentic, if taken care of they become heirloom pieces. When decorating, I think it is really important to spend the extra money for one or two pieces remembering that you are purchasing a one of a kind, handcrafted piece of art."
Tell me about the amazing lamps and ceramics in the shop.
"The ceramics are called Iznik which is the same as the ancient town of Nicea, not far southeast of Istanbul. Iznik Golu is the lake that the town of Izni/Nicea sits on. In the 15th century artisans inspired by the blue and white porcelain from China adopted their own method of making the ceramics.
They use quartz ground to a fine powder, then formed into a clay. The pottery is hand formed and painted, with raised motifs. All motifs have a meaning: the tulip is God and the Rose is Mohammed. The lamps are all made in Turkey, they and are called mosaic color lights and are very labor intensive."
Boots and shoes are New Suzani, the current fashion is platform but we do carry flats that are called Babette. We also produce men’s and women’s Kilim shoes, handbags and travel bags."
Ladies, aren’t these boots incredible? I must have a pair for winter!
Julie also carries dyed patchwork rugs, ottomans, benches, Turkish towels and robes, and authentic pashminas too (I bought one for my Mom for her birthday). Bay Area collectors and designers, be sure to give Julie a call or take a trip to the shop, she can source these textiles for you or your client, or have something made custom!
Julie’s husband passed away from a rare bone cancer of the spine Chordoma so proceeds from each sale from her shop go to that foundation to honor her husband. Bohca Bazaar is on Facebook and will soon have an online shop to offer these textiles to the rest of the country, so be sure to follow along. Thank you Julie for sharing your expertise ! …