Sunday, September 30, 2012

Epic Picture: Father Talking to the Road Policeman

I realize that you know more about my dog than about my daughter. This is not because I love the dog more; I just tend to be quite reserved about the baby publicly. Anyway, I have a daughter, her name is Madina and she is 6 years old. She loves doing many things including drawing and telling stories.

She drew this epic picture a couple of days ago. When asked to explain, she said that the man on the left was her father, handing the Road Rules Manual to the road policeman (right). (It is my husband's hobby to educate our road police; I hear you cannot argue with a road policeman in the US, but here we have to argue if we do not want to be fined for nothing, and my husband is an expert. He even provides advice to a number of friends, in real time, over the phone, saving them from fines.) So, in this picture he is educating the policeman who is standing with a puzzled look, with a traffic radar in hand.

Madina firmly believes that her father is the greatest, strongest and smartest, and that he will make all road policemen 'more clever'. Let us hope that all people around become 'more clever'; I, too, have a huge scope for improvement.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Handmade Enamel Earrings and Ikat Pillow Giveaway!

The enamel earrings and the ikat pillow case, worth US $47 together, will be sent to the international winner.

My first giveaway brought me a lot of joy, excitement and traffic, so I decided to have another one. This time I am joined by Alery Accessories - a wonderful Etsy shop selling handmade enamel jewelry and silk scarves. It is a great privilege for me to have a giveaway with this excellent artist. Alery is giving away these beautiful red and black earrings, perfect for Halloween. As for me, I am giving a silk ikat pillow case made of salvaged vintage silk. I love this striking fabric and I hope it will go to a loving home.
The giveaway works as follows:
First you leave a comment telling us what your favorite colors are (you do not have to limit yourself to this, though) and then sign in the form below to provide your name and to state that you have commented (please use the same name).  
After you indicate that you have left a comment on this blog post,  you will see options for additional entries such as blogging (3 additional entries), sharing at Facebook (2 entries more), etc.
Even if you are not interested in those additional options, you will need to at least register your comment using this form in order to enter, because the winner will be chosen automatically with the help of this software. If you do not do that, you will have no chances to win, sorry.
You can get 25 more entries if you buy something from us on Etsy. In that case, your chances are growing dramatically - actually the first giveaway was won by my customer!
And if you happen to win - we ship all items for free, including your purchase! (If you do buy, please send to the respective shop owner (Alery or MulberryWhisper) a note to delay shipping until the end of the giveaway). This includes our past customers. If you have already bought from us, you qualify for the additional 25 entries! Claim them and indicate your Etsy user name in the form.
This giveaway is open worldwide and comes with free shipping as long as you have a valid address (no P.O. boxes please). You should be 18 years old and above to qualify. All entries of the drawn winner will be verified.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you very much for participation and comments! We do apologize for not responding to individual comments, but we highly appreciate them and very grateful to all of you!

UPDATE: The Winner is Lulu!... Congratulations; we will mail your prizes to you within a couple of days! Many thanks to everyone who participated, and please check back for more giveaways!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Russian Folk Tales as Seen by Tatiana Mavrina

Can you see my hand painted floral silk shawl in the collage? It is in the upper left and right corners. It mingles really well with the lovely illustrations by my beloved Tatiana Mavrina, does not it?

Tatiana Mavrina was a Russian artist famous for her book illustrations. She lived from 1900-1996, and was very prolific. Her works were not limited to illustrations; she painted pictures, too, and made sketches for cartoons. But it were her works for books that brought her fame, recognition and prestigious awards. Books are so much more affordable than pictures, and I had two books illustrated by Mavrina when I was a child. Now I have several, including Russian folk tales and tales for children by Alexander Pushkin, and would like to buy more, but it is not so easy to do now.

I own several books illustrated by her, and reading them is a pleasure. However I do not feel that she was painting for children, and my mother agrees with me. Her pictures are wonderful, but they are clearly for adults, in our view; my own daughter was not impressed at all when she was 4 years old. Now she is 6; just several minutes ago she came to see what I was doing and said the pictures were beautiful, but I know she still prefers more 'life like' pictures to these sophisticated paintings.

Russian lubok, together with other traditional forms of Russian art, clearly was among the origins of these works; however Mavrina went far beyond it. Lubok is always very clear and unambiguous, whereas Mavrina is not. Her paintings are very decorative, highly stylized, with amazing color combinations, but not easily comprehensible for small children. However this is not something to be upset about: I am sure that my daughter will love her works like I do when she becomes older. 

Below are several beautiful examples of Mavrina's paintings, and you can find more here, in the Russian part of the internet (but of course texts will be in Russian), or look for information in English, but there will be fewer paintings of course. You could combine both approaches, it will be the most efficient way.

I would love to publish many more pictures by Tatiana Mavrina - it is such a pleasure for me to look at them - but I am afraid the post will become too long. I have had to make an effort to remember what made me think of Mavrina and write all this; it was a floral vintage silk shawl, painted by hand, which is so redolent of Mavrina style - indeed it looks as if painted by her. I listed it today but I am thinking of removing it... We will see; I think if it does not sell, I will keep it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Dog Cannot Hear Me!...

...Some people seem to think that if their dogs do not obey their commands this is just because the dogs have not heard them well. So they increase volume to make it easier for the dogs to hear and understand.

A lady behind my window has been shouting for half an hour now, with increasing loudness: 'Celine! Come! Come, I told you!!! Do you want me to spank you?... Come immediately, you bad girl!...', and then - 'Sit. Sit! Have not you heard me? I told you to SIT! Not walk away! Sit down, Celine, darn you!!!...'.

I cannot tell you how much it irritates me. I try to be patient and remember that not all people are as interested in dog training as I am. It is not really necessary for this elderly lady with a very loud voice to have an ideally obedient cocker spaniel, so why should I bother? The dog is not young, too. However I cannot help twitching uncomfortably when hes screams become especially loud and emotional. If you did not train your dog, you should not expect it to obey.

It is just 8 am, and the clean morning air is full of these screams. She also whistles from time to time and pleads the dog to come at last. Maybe I just need to close the windows...

Tomorrow I shall go for a long walk with my own dog. Not to train - just to walk and play in the big unkempt park a couple of miles from home. I like the place because it looks so wild, and there are no people at all in the morning. Our walks were limited recently due to me being overloaded; need to compensate him for that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Joined the Movement

I saw this button at the Muddy Boot Dreams and could not believe my eyes at first - someone made a button and started a movement! Brilliant! I do love to read interesting blogs, and love to comment, and I hate it when I have to fight with this word verification Cerberus. As a rule, I do not leave meaningless comments for the sake of establishing my presence; I usually try to make them informative and share something, and it often takes me a while to write a comment. After spending more that 30 seconds on writing the comment, the necessity of deciphering the tangled symbols can be quite irritating. I try once, twice, and then leave - often to never be back.

You can read more on the topic and grab the button here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I Won a Giveaway!

I am very excited to inform you that I have won a giveaway - for the first time ever - and a very nice one! It was a giveaway for ad space at Creativity Unmasked - a beautiful blog about arts, crafts and small business, which is very well managed by Laura of Moags and Smeet Jewellery.

I am especially pleased to have my ad placed at this blog, because Laura is:
a) a very good artist with a distinctive style;
b) a very good blogger who writes posts which are easy and pleasant to read;
c) an excellent photographer (see her blog);
d) obviously a very good cook who shares great recipes;
e) a pet owner, who has the most beautiful Dalmatian I have ever seen (she bakes biscuits for him, too!), and a lovely rescue cat Tig;
f) a pet activist, donating to RSPCA:
g) a beautiful and intelligent woman.

And I am sure there is much more to say about her!

Laura makes beautiful jewelry of semi-precious stones and handcrafted components she buys from fellow artisans. Actually, that is how I met her - she was having a giveaway for a pair of custom made earrings. I must confess, as a rule I am not interested in giveaways and would not bother, but I checked her shop and found too many pieces to like, so I entered! I did not win that giveaway; however, winning this one might be even more important and useful for me. But I might buy some of here pieces eventually, too, for they have that organic feeling that appeals to me. The designs are clean and simple, and that is exactly what is needed for the beautiful stones Laura uses - it makes them stand out. (The bad news is I am afraid Australian Post refuses to ship to us - last time I tried to buy pearls from Australia, the parcel was not let out. I wonder why is that). 

Laura invites artisans to be the guests on her blog - you can see the submission details here. She says: 'There is absolutely nothing wrong with shouting "Hey, look at my stuff - its cool too!" and asking me to do a mini feature of you, your creations and/or your links'. I think this is a very good blog to be featured at, and there is never too much promotion.

Right now there is a spring sale at Moags and Smeet, and Laura provided us with this sale advertisement, beautiful and stylish like all she does. I urge you to check her shop before everything is gone - I do regret about missing a couple of items.

To conclude with, I will quote Laura herself:   

'I am an online regular and I try to be as interactive as possible.  I hope that if you are reading this, then you will also drop by one of my sites and say hello in person'.

Thank you, Laura! I hope you will be visiting Mulberry Whisper, too! 

My White Curtains

I have always had a weakness for embroidery. As a girl, I was taught to embroider by a very good artist who was trained in Torjok, traditional Russian center for needlework crafts. She was amazing; I could look at her completed works for hours. I have not learned much, but I can appreciate a good piece. So you will understand, I could not leave without these curtains.

I was looking for vintage silk and came to say hello to an old acquaintance of mine. That lady makes very good embroidery using her old sewing machine. She sells her own works, and sometimes vintage. Today she had one of these curtains on display... my heart stopped beating... I asked the price, and then I learned she had five of them! Fortunately, I still had enough cash, and I took all five.

At home I was admiring them for half an hour. The embroidery in the middle is amazing. It looks like filet crochet, but that is embroidered net, Russian style. And then there is beautiful cutwork, and a wide border of lace at the bottom, with lovely tassels. Someone gave a lot of time and commitment to make these.Not everyone knows how long it takes to make these things. It is very hard on the eyes, too. 

I listed them for sale. I do not have a room suitable for them, and certainly I could not cut them for pillow cases. If they do not sell for the listed price, I will just keep them and try to do something with my kitchen to be able to hang them... However I will be glad to let them go to a good home.

Friday, September 21, 2012

My Crazy Dog

Belgian Malinois are generally crazy, in the good sense of the word, but some of them are crazier that the others. My own dog certainly beats records for craziness when he is in the mood to play.

I have been browsing my video library and found this short video I made last summer when he was about 9 months old. I know the quality is awful but it always makes me laugh.

I am sorry we broke the little fountain but he had never done that before and I did not expect him to.

The music is Unza Unza Time by Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Pomegranate and Paisley Lizard

This is a watercolor painting I made as a sketch for a jewelry box.

I bought a round box in the flea market; it was nice, but the painting was extremely ugly. This was, hands down, the ugliest painted wooden box I have ever seen.

I took it home and decided to repaint it. Choosing a subject was not difficult; I thought that a coiled  lizard would fit in very nicely. I love lizards. However I also love paisley and pomegranates and would like to have them on my box. 

A brilliant idea then came to my mind: I decided to make a lizard with paisley and pomegranate pattern. I made the sketch within about one hour. Of course, I can see many deficiencies in it, but this was my first attempt at drawing after about 18 years. It took me 15 minutes to get adjusted to the brush - I forgot the feeling completely. 

Unfortunately, I have not finished the box. I decided to paint it with acrylic paints but did not like the way they behaved. This was my first experience with these paints, and I did not expect them to give me so little flexibility in mixing and making smooth transitions, as well as very low tolerance for mistakes. Oil paints are so much more flexible, obedient, smooth and forgiving... I almost finished the lizard itself, but now I do not have the desire to finalize the whole project which is unfortunate. I do not like leaving unfinished work. I might force myself to finish it and give as a gift to someone not too discerning... to my daughter, for instance. She would be happy.

...As for more down to earth things, I have just washed eight pieces of vintage silk satin with ikat pattern (khan atlas), one by one, so that if the colors run on one of them, it does not spoil the others. Washed them by hands, and hung to dry. As a rule, this silk must be dry cleaned, and that is what we recommend, but I still wash it once before making something from it. If colors run, it will be my loss and I will just use it for something else... a kennel mat for the dog? has not happened yet, fortunately. When they dry, we will examine them and decide which ones will be used for pillows or blouses or tops. I will take a photo of them as a bundle if I do not forget - they are very beautiful.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Samarkand Morning: Gur-e Emir Mausoleum

I went for a business trip to Samarkand last Friday. As a rule, when we go with a mission to this amazing city, we mostly do sightseeing; who wants to work when there is so much beauty around? However, this time the mission consisted of men, all engineers, and they had been there before, so we actually worked all Friday.

We had dinner at Zlata Praga. They have excellent roasted lamb which is their specialty dish and very good unfiltered beer.

Fortunately for me, we stayed at the President Hotel, in the center of the city, and it would be a shame not to use the opportunity to walk. I went to bed early and woke up at 7; quickly dressed and went out.

I crossed the road and entered a large unkempt park. There were many fountains of different sizes and shapes.

I have noticed a mausoleum I have never seen close. It is quite old, and rather modest in terms of size and decorations. To the right of the building you can see a small graveyard. This might be a mausoleum for a religious leader and his descendants - next time I will come and take a closer look, but this time I was in a hurry.

...I was in a hurry, because I had so little time, and I wanted to see the Gur-e Emir. I was so happy to see it ahead of me, half-hidden by trees and bushes, with its beauty growing on me as I was coming closer...

..and at last I could see all of it in the morning light. My heart stopped for a moment.

This is the mausoleum of Tamerlane (Timur the Great, also known as the Lame, who we call Emir Temur), his two sons and two grandsons and his religious mentor. I will not dwell on details - you can easily find them. On the photo below you can see another graveyard, but all the important tombs are inside.

The interesting thing is that tourists are shown the tombs in a lavishly decorated room on the first floor, all covered with gold tiles, but I was told that those were not real - they were cenotaphs. Imitations. At least this was the case with the grave of Timur, whereas the real one, with the remains, is one floor below, at the underground level. I have been there once, too, but it was many years ago and I do not remember it well.

The mausoleum was expertly restored, but I must confess that I love the non-restored parts even more. They are very authentic and real. Of course I realize that the place had to be renovated, or there would not be much to look at, and besides it would keep deteriorating. But anyway I like that it has non-restored parts, too.

It is surrounded by many mulberry trees, and has some inside the yard, too. 

Every morning this masterpiece is thoroughly cleaned; can you see the green bucket in the picture below on the left? And the photo on the right shows the beautiful dome and a tower, covered with majolica tiles. This ribbed dome is unique and beautiful like a piece of jewelry.

Two old men are sitting and talking quietly. This is a wonderful place to sit and talk, before groups of tourists arrive. Every day this mausoleum is visited by so many people.

...Not far from the mausoleum, a small pack of happy dogs was lounging and playing in the grass. I do not know if they were homeless or just left their homes nearby for a walk (which certainly should not happen, too, but it would still be better). But at least they looked well-fed and not abused.

My pictures do not give justice to this amazing place. You can look for professionally made pictures or, better still, come here to see the city with your own eyes.

To be continued...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dogs Around Us: Part 1

At last, I got to making that dog collage, judging that I have enough dogs for the first part - and a very beautiful pack they are!

The first one is Jarna, a 4 year old Great Pyrenees Dog owned by Galia Grayevsky (you can find more information here). Jarna and Galia manage a shop called CasaDeGato where they sell beautiful nursing necklaces, crocheted toys and jewelry made of natural materials. Jarna is a real star, with her snow white fur, black eyes and shining smile!

Then (to the right) comes Oli,one of the most beautiful Dalmatians I have ever seen. Oli is owned by beautiful and talented Laura who has a jewelry shop Moags and Smeet offering handcrafted jewelry and also maintains a very interesting blog Creativity Unmasked  on arts, crafts and small business.

The two beautiful Standard Schnauzers Twiggy and Fred live with Lyudmila and own Woolsolution on Etsy; the knitwear offered at the shop is as stylish and unique as these two dogs (halfsiblings, and Fred is a rescue dog).

Then comes Matthias who I love very much. I first found his photo somewhere else and tracked it down to his owner's blog. He looks very much like a working line German Shepherddog, and I am addicted to them. He was found wandering around Birmingham and it is very fortunate that now he lives a happy life with Ari. They own a lovely shop called The Happy Cactus.

Now it is turn of Arwen, Nyxie and Fenway (more about them here). They have a whole shop established specially to support dogs - For Pets Sake, although I met their owner Matt at the Upcycler's Team. I love his shop called Conversation Glass, and especially the new upcycled candle holders.

The lush and lady-like black Cane Corso is owned by the family of Alecia of Arctida. It only seems logical that such a beautiful dog has her own jewelry store; she would look lovely wearing a collar studded with rubies or pearl earrings.

Next one is Daniel of Rinnovato. I am not sure about the breed - he looks like a Labrador, Ridgeback and Pointer at the same time - but he is certainly an amazingly handsome dog. He has a very beautiful face with expressive eyes and a lovely velour coat, and there is no wonder that Marcy loves him so much. They run RinnovatoVintage together - I am sure Marcy would not cope without Daniel's help. And they even have some dog items there. such as this lovely vintage plate.

Edi of Memories for Life Scrapbooks  has a great blog which she maintains expertly and effortlessly, and a shop full of beautiful and unusual custom scrapbooks and other one of a kind gifts. She is helped by Harley the Pomeranian who looks amazingly different in the summer and in the winter.

Olga and her collie Chanya are old friends of mine - I have known Chanya from birth. They live in Atlanta now which is a loss for Uzbekistan and a gain for the US in terms of beauty, intelligence and good manners. You can see more photos here. Olga is a very good photographer, in my view, and if you live close to her you could ask her for a walk.

The last picture is of my beloved Mechelaar (Malinois) Arrack's Home Jagger. I am forever grateful to Marc Peeters for trusting me with this amazing dog - a stunning combination of endless love and tenderness, steel teeth and incredible courage.

...You are welcome to post comments with links to your blogs and FB pages with photos of your pets and information about them. I really enjoy reading about others' dogs and will make more collages to marvel at.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Vintage Silk and Wool Heaven

I am adding vintage silk and wool scarves and shawls to the shop. Beautiful, unique and very affordable, and I love each and every one.

I feel good about only selling things I love. 'Because if it doesn’t sell, guess what! You get to keep it' (c) Donna Menhert of Blackberrybeads. However sometimes it creates a problem: I feel I cannot sell... 

Monday, September 10, 2012

My Coral Berry Earrings

People keep asking me how I find topics for writing. What is the problem? My life is full of events, adventures and mysteries! 

The first thing I wanted to say to Yelena Turetsky Merener after receiving a small package from Israel was 'Are you crazy? You should not have!...'

You see, the whole affair took her several weeks to complete. First, she cunningly found out what I liked most in her shop. Then she somehow made me give her my street address. And then, just imagine me sitting at home, have not bought anything for a while (well, I have bought some beautiful and mostly useless things, as always, but nothing from Israel), and then I get this parcel! with the coral earrings I so much love! 

Of course my initial reaction was very impolite, and I want to correct myself. When you receive a gift, especially such a lovely one, you are supposed to say thank you.

Dear Lena, thank you so much! This is a wonderful gift, and you really know how to make surprises! I love these earrings, with all their natural imperfections and dents, thin lines and color variations - they look so much like hawthorn or brier berries, or small apples. They are beautiful, and I keep them on the desk beside me to look at and touch from time to time. I love the tiny pearls, too - they are like snow. These remind me of late autumn or winter when leaves are gone, but red berries are still there, on the branches... I love that time, and cold air, smelling of wet earth and fallen leaves... moist wood... my time, when I feel free and young.

Thank you. I love your jewelry, with its organic feel and beautiful textures; both simple pieces like these beloved earrings of mine, and more sophisticated, like a kinetic caterpillar or a turquoise puzzle necklace. They are a pleasure to look at, and my earrings feel wonderful to the touch, too.

...All this made me think of several things, and i created my first 'moodboard' - a collection of images which go together well reflecting my mood. Do not ask me why these.

Featured: 1. 2. 3. 4.

This is my first mood board, and I used PicMonkey. You are most welcome to add links to your own collections you post on your blogs, using the tool below. 

Linen Pillow Covers with Roses - Coming Soon!

It is a pleasure for me to announce that very soon we will present a one of a kind set of linen pillow covers - beautiful, thin linen in soft white with lovely roses and leaves embroidered in cross stitch technique. I found this piece yesterday and fell in love right away. Actually it will not be easy to cut... so lovely... but it will make very pretty pillows to love and use.

The embroidery is very elegant and professionally made in very small stitches; the linen is perfect. It is a new piece of linen embroidered by someone years ago to make a long hand towel ('ruchnik' in Russian and Ukrainian) and never finished - hems are unrolled. It will make two stunning cottage style cushion covers. If you fancy them and want a particular size or style, you can give me a shout.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What Is This?

I need to take a break and have some rest from the shop. I mean, a couple of hours. 

In the meantime, I want to ask my vintage loving friends - what is this thing in the photos below? I found this tin in the flee market a couple of weeks back. My mother said: "Why do you think you need this garbage? Do not buy!" but then she took a closer look and agreed that it was a lovely shabby chic piece. 

However we do not know what is is. I thought it might be a tea tin; my friend thinks it is a biscuit tin. My daughter thinks it was used to store candies. What do you say?

The most informative comments will be inserted in the post with due credits and links to your shops, blogs and whatever you want me to give a link to. Thank you!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Harem Worthy Pillows and Other News

It is funny how I always have something to say here. I guess I missed blogging; I have not had a proper blog for several years, after there was a stalker. He was a very unpleasant person, but that is a long story and I can tell it sometime later.

In the meantime I want to brag about my silk rug pillows:

I already mentioned that we were going to use my vintage rug to make pillows which I call 'Harem Worthy'. I like how they turned out; they are rich in color but not too much, and the pattern is beautiful. The rug is definitely made of natural fibers, judging by the feel of it and the burn test, but of course it is not silk. Most likely a silk and cotton blend. And real silk carpets are not very soft, by the way (but of course they are incredibly beautiful; more on that later...), whereas these cushion covers are lovely to the touch.

This rug is soft and silky and reminds of silk velour or velvet, so these decorative pillows are not only beautiful but also quite huggable. I hate things that make me itch, and actually I could keep a couple of these to myself - I seldom see these rugs in the market.

So, we have made 18x18 and 20x20  velour pillow covers so far, and will probably make 12x18 as well. So far, we still have a lot of material left and could custom make pillow cases in desired sizes.

...As for the other news, Mandy Hollowell has agreed to work on a unicorn pendant for my sister, and I am eagerly expecting drawings from her. In the meantime, I enjoyed reading her post about the process of making a metal bird. I am thrilled with the result of her work.

Besides, one of my favorite silk tops sold today, together with two scarves. They will go to Moscow. Those were limited edition (like everything we do, actually); I had just two scarves of each type, and just three tops of this stunning chiffon. One of these tops is mine, another one is in Wisconsin, and the third one will go to Russia. Hope the customer will be happy with them.

I am planning to list several beautiful vintage silk scarves I collected over the years. I do love vintage silk in all forms, and scarves are no exclusion. However I realized I have had too many, so I will offer some of them. If they do not sell, I will not be too upset though.

That is about it. Now I need to do my 'real life work' which is far more boring than managing My Very Own Little Boutique.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Our Giveaway is Over...

...and the winner is Galina Blażejewska! You can see her here, wearing our silk wrap blouse in autumn colors!

I could not be more thrilled - this is so exciting! I love Galina's felted things; many of them are truly museum quality. You can see some of them in her blog and her Etsy shop. And I am very pleased that my silk ikat scarf will go to this charming person who really appreciates handmade things and natural fibers.

I was not sure what picture to put here, so I am adding Galina's teapot purse which I love, instead of  flowers for the winner. Congratulations!

(And now I only have one such scarf left in the shop, and no such fabric left, so there are just two altogether).

Many thanks to all participants; we are very grateful for your support. We received great results, and I wish I had a prize for each and everyone! Thank you!

...We are starting a new giveaway in a couple of days (probably Monday); I will announce it on blogs and my FB page. Please come and join; there will be different prizes (and they are so nice, it will be difficult for me not to keep them).

Our Portfolio at Cotton Ridge Create: Thank You, Kathie!

It is been a while since Kathie Depew has created Mulberry Whisper portfolio on her web site entitled Cotton Ridge Create. We were extremely pleased and flattered that she noticed us. I know that Kathie admits submissions for the website, and I would suggest to my friends that they apply. The site is really nice, with a good atmosphere, and I like to be featured there.

Kathie has an Etsy shop, too - it is cottonridge, where she offers clay jewelry. There are many nice things, earthy, with lovely texture, and she is currently expanding her range. I like her white pendants.

I have a passion for pottery and I am jealous of those who have the opportunity to make it. We used to have a pottery workshop when I was very young, and I still remember the excitement of opening the kiln... No! first you have to wait for it to cool down - and you wait for hours, trying to do something else, and then finally you open the kiln full of beautiful glistening things... An amazing feeling. 

Kathie, I am wishing you a great success in all you do, and thank you again.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Autumn Silk

My friend asked me what vintage silks we had in stock which would be in the autumn mood, and which are not ikat.

Of course, we have plenty, because we are crazy collectors and buy a piece of silk whenever we see one. Given that it is beautiful, of course. Many of those pieces will not be offered in our shop - for instance, I will not part with my decadent black silk chiffon with mellow fruits and flowers, just like I had to keep one tunic of black, green and white silk chiffon to myself. (Of course there is still a small top from that silk for sale in the shop, but if it does not sell I keep it).

So, these are the autumn silks I currently have at home (click to see full size). Most of these are enough even for a dress, but none are in the amount sufficient for mass production. Which is perfectly fine with us. 

 And we still have a piece of the beautiful autumn colored silk with leaves like this, and can make a tunic similar to the one below or a blouse, or something else. Galina of Galafilc (upscale felt clothing and accessories) looks happy in the picture, and we are happy, too. Of course she has chosen the color wisely - it looks great on her (it is not surprising, given her perfect taste and sense of style, and we were very honored to make a custom order for her).

 If you fancy any of these fabrics, do not hesitate to write to me. It will be a pleasure for my mother to make a custom piece of clothing for you, based on your individual measurements and a pattern she will make herself. She loves it.

Creatures of Hollowbourne

I know I promised not to make any shop reviews. You can find enough around and I personally become somewhat tired of reviews, sponsors, etc. No sponsors here, promise.

And this is not a review. I just have to share these amazing, funny, cute and very different creatures I have just stumbled upon while looking for something to give to my sister. She will be 12 in November (and will be 35 in December, by the way - how to you like the gap? Same parents).

To say 'I like them' would mean not to say anything. I am smashed by the fox's nose (she looks a bit like ant-eater) and her tail; by the sweet smile of the hug me cat, by the huge eyes of the hanging black and white cat (ever seen a cat hung like that? their eyes look exactly like this) and the lonesome thoughtful bird. And then comes the dragon! The small happy dragon! with the paws, sticking in front of him in the most hilarious way, and with a fiercely happy smile, and altogether he is a bit like a turkey!...

I am exhausted of admiration. I looked up the artist's name - it is Mandy Hollowell, and she has a blog here. I will go and look for more dragons now. I might buy one for myself, I am still young enough for them!

Update: The first two readers said they loved the bird (they call it crow) most of all. As for me, I am drawn to the fox and the dragon. And what is your favorite?  Please share!

...The majority voted for the bird.

And today my mother came to visit me and of course I demonstrated my finds to her, too. She was thrilled (especially with the Hug Me Cat and the Happy Dragon - we have very similar tastes). Now she is asking if Mandy could make a unicorn for my sister. Katherine's favorite book is The Talking Parcel by Gerald Durrell (I wrote about it here), and there are unicorns, so she will be happy to have one.

National Sewing Month (I Steal That One, Too!)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Hope it Is OK to Steal Your Widget

It can be really useful to look carefully at others' blogs - not just for the content, but also for widgets.

I often read Memoriesforlifescrapbooks - Edi has a lovely style of writing, her photos are very good, and the blog is just nice to visit. Somehow it has a very homely and cozy feel. She is a very nice and friendly person, too - always responds to comments and says thank you for Treasuries (she even posts them on her blog with links to the curators!). Who would not want to include her items? And, of course, they ask to be included, being beautiful and stylish, and with excellent pictures - take a look at her shop, memoriesforlifesb.

...I know I can never be short in my writing - bear with me. I will try to be more consise.

So, I found an interesting widget at the left sidebar of her blog. It looks a bit like the one provided by the Craftcult, but simpler in design. I followed the link to the source, and found this -

Looks like the place is fool of useful things. I have not checked all of them yet, but I like the 'Shop Helper' that produces a downloadable Excel inventory of all items in the shop. '...It contains the columns Listing Id, State, Title, Creation Date, Number of Views, Price, Expiration Date, Quantity, Section Title, Sold?, Listing Fee, Selling Fee, Shipping Fee, and Date Sold'.  I will think of how to incorporate it into my Excel based accounting system; I am sure it can be done.

So, Edi, I have to thank you for this widget, too.  I will certainly be around.

My Mother is a Star!

...No, not a star - a super star!

Of course, I always knew that, but now I have another proof - an interview with her has been published at Katrinshine blog. This is great news news, and mom is extremely pleased  and flattered by the fact. Katrin has a really nice shop with lovely and stylish items such as jewelry, bags, pillows, and even high end corsets, and her request for an interview was a very pleasant surprise.

My mother has never ever given an interview before, and she was not quite sure what to talk about and where to start, so I suggested to start from things that interest her most, rather than try to cover everything, including her school years, books she loves and her kids. Those topics would have to be covered in about twenty additional interviews.

There is not much more to write - maybe you will just take a look at the interview. It is entirely hers; I just translated it. I must say, I love her approach to clothing design.

I hope that this is the beginning of the international recognition of Mulberry Whisper, and hopefully we will become rich and famous one day. Katrin, thank you very much for helping us with the first steps towards the goal!

A Milestone for our Etsy Shop


Today the number of 'admirers' of our Etsy shop has reached 300 people. This is a very important milestone for me. I opened the shop on February 16, we received the first order (a custom made chiffon blouse) on March 13, and worked throughout the spring. 

In June I was not doing anything for the shop at all, due to being overloaded with my 'real' work and having to deal with personal and health issues.

I had a great vacation in July, and came back well rested. I still was not sure about how much time and energy I wanted to invest in the shop. My photos were horrendous, my texts were bad. But I looked at all the wonderful feedback left by the customers, and my heart melted... Even though pictures were bad, the actual things were good, and people loved them. It was my fault that I could not present them well. 

I consulted with my beloved Russian Artists's Team and made an effort to improve. I read articles on how to make better pictures in totally unsuitable conditions (I have to photograph in a rather small room with poor lighting and this is unlikely to change in the near future) and how to make my shop more easily found. Later on I joined the Upcyclers' Team, and they provided lots of support, too.

I revamped my shop three times within three days, changing most of the photos, until I came up with the style I considered most suitable. I am almost happy with what I have now.

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped, with special thanks going to Irina of IrinaPhotographyCard, who knows everything about photography and is always happy to help; to Lana of BelleCoccinelle, who gives me priceless advice on home textiles and style - and her own style is impeccable; to Lena of LenaMer, who supported me throughout the revamping process; to Oksana of LaFiabaRussa for advising me on how to arrange the giveaway in the best possible manner, and to each and everyone who supported. Even a few words like 'Eugenie, I love what you are doing - keep up the good work!' are important and valuable. 

I do apologize if I forgot to mention someone specifically. I would love to thank all the team fellows, and even some of those people who do not know me personally and never talked to me. There are some really amazing shops out there which serve as great models to me in terms of coherence of style, quality of photos and texts, and shop policies. I do my best to learn. 

And of course I thank my wonderful customers for their support and trust in us! We work for you, and your satisfaction is the best reward for us.

To conclude with, I want to share a lovely feedback I received yesterday from Vivian who bought four silk ikat scarves in our shop.

'...The colours are out of this world, far more subtle than on the PC, and the whole scarf is just breathtaking. What extraordinary craftsmanship to make these beauties! And the service was as outstanding as the scarves. Thanks for providing us with the opportunity to buy these beautiful things!'

This is what gives me energy to go on, even when I am really tired. Thank you!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Beloved Pastels and Neutrals

We are introducing another direction to our shop. Along with bright and bold statement ikat fabrics, we are now going to present more silk ikat fabrics in pastel shades. They are not easy to find, and I am afraid it might be difficult for me to part with them. However, my closet is not limitless, and there are only so many days in the year. I cannot keep everything I like.

Yesterday I had another photo shoot and replaced old photos of this scarf that I have had for a while. I was so happy while taking the pictures, and so engaged - I forgot to have breakfast, and then I only had lunch at 4pm. And all that was after a sleepless night (I was finishing a large translation).

...But it was a bliss! Look at the pictures of my ikat silk scarf in pastels, with 100 inch strand of freshwater pearls, and believe me that it was much better in real life. It is so sublime, with soft pastel colors and elegant lace like pattern, but still feels earthy and organic, due to the handwoven nature of this smooth and cool shoyi silk.

 (the scarf is here)

I am very happy to have a motivation for taking pictures again. I lost interest a while ago, and was mostly taking photos of the kids (including my dog), but now I am really interested in taking great pictures for the shop and this blog. I know there is a huge scope for improvement, but I am working on it, and it feels great.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Silk Ikat Blouses for Elizabeth

Today we are shipping a custom order. We really love how it turned out, and I would like to write about it. 

...All of our customers are very important to us, valued and special, but Elizabeth will always stand apart. She was our very first customer on Etsy. Elizabeth found us in the spring 2012, when we just opened; she placed a custom order, and ordered a number of pieces from us since then. Her reaction to the items she receives from us serves as a great incentive for further improvements and a wonderful support. Her first feedback was as follows:

'...Exquisite, gorgeous - I cannot describe how beautiful this set is. The fabric is stunning and the design modern, comfortable, and attractive. It is also perfect fit, thanks to Eugenie's excellent communication with me and Irina's amazing skill and eye for design. I am already planning on another custom order!'

You can imagine how happy we were to read this! I translated it to mother, and I think she learned it by heart. Of course we are blessed to have Elizabeth as a customer and we treasure our relationships. 

Recently Elizabeth asked us if we could suggest some blouses with relaxed fit and short sleeves for her. She wanted them made of khan atlas - that is pure silk satin, smooth, cool and luxurious, with traditional ikat pattern. My mother has drawn four sketches:

...and Elizabeth has chosen the two on the top - one with a split neckline and the off-shoulder one. These were our preferences, too. 

Mother made custom patterns based on our customer's measurements. She never uses ready made patterns. For each new customer she makes new patterns from scratch to ensure that the clothing will fit. She believes that this is what custom made clothing is about. 

The split neckline blouse was relatively simple in terms of fit, whereas for the off-shoulder one she decided to make a model first - to sew it from a piece of cheap cotton first to see how it comes out. That cut is more complicated because it should be off-shoulder without slipping further and making you feel uncomfortable - in other words, that shoulder looks like falling but it is supposed to stay in place firmly. Besides, the bottom hem is supposed to be even and not skewed. And the fabric chosen by Elizabeth for this top was extremely beautiful, rare - a vintage piece - and valuable. So, mother produced this model, roughly sewn but fully in line with the pattern of course:

She looked on it, tried in on the mannequin, tried it on herself to see that the balance is good and then, satisfied that it fit perfectly well, she cut the silk ikat fabric.

The model was not needed anymore. Actually I quite liked it and said we should not dump it. I could tea stain it, put some lace, buttons, ribbons, old Lego pieces, coke tabs, etc. on it and sell it as a truly unique Boho one of a kind tribal ethnic magic wearable piece of art - Etsy is full of them. Unfortunately my mother did not appreciate my idea and told me to do something useful instead of talking nonsense and distracting her. You see, she is hopelessly practical and believes that clothing should be professionally made, beautiful, stylish and long lasting. (I might sneak this model away though to alter and list it to see if it will be popular).

So, as a result, mother made these two blouses (tops, tanks, tunics - you choose).

We consider them to be really good. They are bright and bold, but can be easily balanced by solid color coordinates. They can be worn with blue jeans - especially the off-shoulder one, since it has so much blue - or with black, gray, slate, dark green or white pants of various lengths and proportions. They will look great with both capri and pencil pants, and there are more options possible, depending on personal preferences. 

This ikat fabric has one very valuable feature; it is extremely flattering, making the wearer appear much slimmer. We call it 'our instant slimming silk'. This is especially true about the blouse on top; those areas with more narrow pattern on the sides creates a strong visual effect of a much slimmer body. I have a green and black ikat tunic myself, and I look almost too thin wearing it.

I hope Elizabeth loves her blouses. My mother did her best in making them, and I did my best to take pictures as true to life as possible.

We now offer these models in our shop, both the ikat top with split neckline and the off-shoulder silk blouse. They will be made based on each customer's individual measurements. And of course something totally different can be designed and made from scratch. We have lots of lovely vintage silk in different colors (some are here), and we can always offer additional choices.

My mother loves this work. She keeps singing while working, and that makes me happy.

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