Pens, plates, bouquets of flowers, tea saucers, even candlesticks. All of these items crafted by Emine tusavul are actually made from paper. One of her customers even made a marriage proposal using one of her paper flowers!
Tusavul has been a graphic designer for 20 years now. But her paper-design shop project, Kağıthane, is still new. After opening branches in both Karaköy and Galata, she recently opened one in Nişantaşı as well. She explains, “Some of the stores I saw abroad -- and fell in love with -- that sold everything having to do with paper gave me the courage to do this.” In any case, what she has done is decide to make everything she could come up with associated with Turkish culture, but in paper. Examples range from those classic lace pieces you might find in every corner of certain homes, lace straight out of a woman’s trousseau, to those classic red tea cup saucers you see everywhere in Turkey. She has even replicated that famous duo of simit and cheese. Everything, simply everything here, is made from paper.
American placemats topped with traditional tea saucer designs
You can find the design of traditional Turkish tea saucers almost anywhere. These designs can be red and white, but some are blue. So to see these very designs embellished and placed on top of American placemats is very ironic. At the same time, some of the paper tea saucers here bear lace motifs, lahmacun and sometimes simit designs. You can also find notebooks, wrapping paper and watches with these designs. And take a look at the simit with cheese or fish motifs symbolizing the Bosporus while you are here. Tusavul notes that some of her best customers buy this kind of funny wrapping paper to wrap up expensive gifts like perfume or jewelry for those they love.
‘Bakkal notebooks’ from boss to employees
We notice in one corner of the shop some pens made from paper, as well as notebooks for Turkish youth. These are copied from items dating from 1945. And there are those classic “bakkal notebooks” (notebooks that keep record of who owes the market what amount of money) that we had forgotten about, too. In fact, one customer apparently bought a bunch of these before New Year’s Eve, with the intent of giving them to his employees, whom he admitted “don’t know anything about keeping an accounting ledger. Maybe they’ll learn with these ones.”
Family happiness through games
“İsim şehir” (a game of compiling a list according to letters), “adam asmaca” (hangman), “SOS” (a grid game), “amiral battı” (a battleship game)… These were all games we used to love as kids, and now Kağıthane has taken them over, giving them a new look with uniquely designed notebooks. These special notebooks, one for each game, seem to attract mothers especially. In fact, Tusavul has received profuse thanks from some mothers frustrated by their children, who don’t seem to “get up from in front of the computer,” and the mothers point to these games as the “only ones we can play with our kids.” There are some who even insist these are games that ought to be taught these days in primary school!
The weather outside is freezing. But this shouldn’t stop anyone from making paper handheld fans! Of particular note are the fans made from cotton candy and decorated with photographs of cats on the street. And there are the calendars, of course. The calendar bearing maxims from various notables begins with the words from former President Süleyman Demirel, “Dün dündür, bugün bugündür” (“yesterday was yesterday, today is today”). And there are funny postcards with memorable lines in Turkish as well. Most everything incorporating writing here is in Turkish, though some T-shirts and bags here are printed with the words, “This is a pencil” or “This is a book.” But the English does not go further than that. As Tusavul herself reminds us, “After all, the purpose is to reflect our culture.”
Marriage proposal using paper flower
Hydrangeas, carnations and lilies. ...You will need to use your imagination to pick up the lovely aroma of these particular flowers, as they are fabricated from paper. One British man who visited the shop took away with him a large bouquet of these paper flowers to give to his fiancée. Another young man who came to the shop had not been able to find a box in which to put the ring he was going to propose marriage with. So Tusavul came up with a solution: She helped him hide the ring carefully inside a paper flower.