Büsra Velioglu was born and bred in Istanbul to a life of making jewelry, but she discovered her vocation by chance in faraway South Africa when she was already in her twenties. On a round-the-world cruise with seaman ex-husband Cenap, she found herself in Durban with nothing much to do except search out other expats from her home town. Serendipity brought her in touch with Rose and Jacob, originally from Istanbul, Mecidiyeköy, and their stock in trade, shells, agates, colourful pebbles and other beach-found objects, ideal for making one-of-a-kind, idiosyncratic jewelry. Just like that a career was born that has fulfilled her life while delighting her customers.
Once back home, she apprenticed herself to Atelye Cizgi, an Ortaköy workshop-gallery, where she developed a style and cultivated a design sense with pieces that proved marketable from the very first exhibition. She was offered her own workshop and store across the Bosphorus in Üsküdar, where she worked tirelessly at her craft, without much occasion to indulge in outside activities since during the same three-year period she had a baby boy and had to stay put to tend to his needs.
Büsra, in an effort to expand her repertory, took courses in techniques, especially the crucial craft of molding her designs in wax. But what really helped to mature her in the trade and develop her worldwide reputation she attributes to her time with master jeweler Gündem Ilkorun. It was Gündem who showed her that jewelry is a generous artform, where imagination and inspiration work hand in hand with a craft that has adorned human beings since time immemorial.
It was also Bodrum-based Gündem who paved the way for Büsra’s relocation in 2001 from crowded, expensive Istanbul to the easy-going pace, clean air and vibrant marketplace of the south-eastern Aegean tourist haven. She spent seven years in Bodrum, and finally found her ideal home- base some ten kilometres up the coast in the smaller but equally beautiful Bitez, where her shop-cum-atelier reigns jewel-like on the village main street.
Here she spends countless hours diligently creating her earrings, necklaces, rings and bracelets, as well as wall hangings and other art objects, using glass, pebbles, wood, leather, fabric, felt, bones, horns, coral, and precious or semi-precious stones mostly anchored to silver, her preferred metal.
She draws her inspiration from nature, but also from the Ancients, going back as far as the Trojans. Befitting the fishing heritage of her location, she is fixated on fish, whose geometric dimensions and aerodynamic minimalism she introduces as often as possible to her designs.
Büsra Velioglu creates a new collection based on a different theme every season, often influenced by the colors and lines of the new trends in fashion, but always within the parameters of her traditional themes and original concepts. What makes Büsra special is that she creates personal and unique pieces of jewelry designed according to and in harmony with the character and style of like-minded customers, who develop on first contact an affection for her warm personality and an inalienable attraction to the unique vision of her designs, to the meticulous expertise of her workmanship. Nothing gives her as much satisfaction as to sell a piece to someone who admires her work. “It’s like finding a new home for a little part of myself,” she says.
Büsra’s designs are available in Istanbul at“Takil Pera” Asmalimescit, "Asayra" Nisantas, "Marmara Otel-Pera" Taksim and "Bir" Kuskuncuk; in Bodrum at Marmara Hotel’s "Sufi Boutique" and at "Çerçim"; and of course in Bitez at her own self-mamed shop. If ever in the Bodrum area, it is very worthwhile to make a special trip to Bitez to meet the lovely lady and witness first-hand the birthplace of her creations.
Story by Byron Ayanoglu
Photographs by Algis Kemezys (c) 2012