Turkish calligrapher decorates delicate dried leaves

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A skilled calligrapher in Turkey's southeast is making a name for herself through the unique art of decorating delicate dry leaves.

After learning traditional Turkish arts at Gaziantep University, for the last eight years Saliha Aktaş has been teaching courses in illumination, calligraphy, and miniature at a vocational school of the Gaziantep Municipality.

Seeking an untraditional way to perform her art, two years ago Aktaş started decorating the leaves of the plants in her home and later extended this to dried tree leaves.

"I was working on paper," she recounted.

"After a while I started to look for a difference and said to myself, 'I have to create more remarkable works.' I started to work on the fine, brittle leaves using a very fine processing art of miniature and decorative art of illumination and calligraphy."

Stressing that working with leaves is difficult but enjoyable, Aktaş said:

"It requires fine craftsmanship. The leaf is so brittle and can be easily torn, but I'm very happy to introduce the very special Turkish arts with leaves."

Aktaş first dries the leaves and starts drawing on them, using acrylic and poster paints to color them.

"While doing illumination and miniature on leaf, I mostly try to reflect our traditions and customs. I draw bridal ceremonies and traditional Gaziantep houses and historical monuments. I try to blend traditional motifs with my imagination."

She said shows of her artwork have drawn a great deal of interest.

"Some people want me to teach them how to do it. I want to spread this art as much as I can."

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