The Etsy Blog

A Visit to Istanbul With Toosis

toosis4.jpgMy name is Pinar Sondal. I am an architect and mother of two sons, born in Pennsylvania. I have lived in Istanbul since the 1980s and have been designing jewelry for many years. My brand’s name is Toosis, a name developed by my sister and I because we are two sisters, two architects, two hearts, having too much fun designing.

I use precious stones, silver and gold in my designs, as well as several techniques, such as metalsmithing. I like preparing hammered sterling silver dipped in bright 18K gold, with semi-precious gems or pearls. Onyx, jade, quartz, tourmaline and amethyst are a few of my featured stones, and sometimes two or three get clustered together on a ring or bracelet. I think my designs have a character of their own. They are modern and unique, yet a little bit urban with a vintage style. I love creating big pieces — designs that make a statement and can turn heads.

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For me, architecture is about respecting and observing the past by creating new designs that represent your time line for the future to come. Similarly, handmade jewelry echoes accessory choices from the past while blending with the modern of ensembles of today.

Since my early childhood days, I knew I was going to do something related with the arts. As a young child, I played the violin while dreaming of becoming a performer. But unfortunately, I lost my interest among the way. I also loved drawing and making collage pieces that eventually influenced me to be an architect. I define myself as an architect who lost her way in design and ended up being a jewelry designer.

Istanbul is my muse. It has been home to many different civilizations and nations over the centuries. To see the beautiful old houses, the fishermen, the sidewalk groceries and the Anatolian coast takes my breath away. What were once pagan temples have been converted to churches and mosques. The fortress that surrounds what used to be the old city still tells the stories of war and conquests, glamour and courage. These palaces were once constructed to host Sultans and the Pashas. The hammams —bathhouses where mothers once observed the neighbor’s daughters and picked among them for their sons to marry — have also been repurposed today. Although the parade-like atmosphere of the old times no longer exists, you can still observe the culture and history of many civilizations embedded in the lives of the local people.

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Making the video was another fun project for me and my sister, Etsy seller Queenece. While we were shooting pictures of my new collection we thought, why not also film it like a documentary? We didn’t need to stage anything; a friend simply collaged what we already had. Pictures, films and audio records were pieced together to form a wonderful narrative. Since videos are now shared through cell phone messages, Facebook and blogs, I think it is wise for a designer to present his or her work through this medium.

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