Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Antique Central Asian Textiles: Alive and Bright Beauty

A couple of days ago I went for a walk with a friend of mine who is a dealer in antiques. He mostly buys and sells Uzbek, Turkoman (Turkmen) and Kyrgyz rugs and carpets, as well as suzani and other textiles - adras, khan atlas, shoyi and other silk and blend fabrics traditionally made in Uzbekistan and neighboring countries. He maintains a very interesting group in Facebook called 'Uzbek Suzani', with lots of pictures and information, and is very knowledgeable; I love reading his explanations.

He certainly told me about the items in the photo (the photo is made by me, the items are his), but I already have forgotten (that is because the report I am translating now erases everything bright and beautiful from my mind, filling it with legal jargon and figures). I think I will ask him about them again and write down the answers... But they are beautiful, anyway, are not they? They feel alive and real.

I have more pictures and will share them after I get rid of the report, that is, if I survive it.

Monday, October 29, 2012

My Piece of Magic Forest

I have received my 'Elvish Stole' by Galina Blażejewska of galafilc last week, just before the beginning of very difficult negotiations. I was so astonished to open the package on the way to the office! feeling the warm softness even before I could see this richness of greens with red and gray and many other colors!

It was too beautiful for a taxi, seeming to fill all of it. Remember, when you open the windows after the rain, the trees beside it seem to burst into the room? the scarf did the same. It is too beautiful for the city, too, but I do not mind that. Wearing it is like wearing a piece of enchanted forest; this stole seems to cover and hide me from anything I do not want to see or feel. Believe it or not, I was not parting with it for two days (and we worked 11 hours on the first day and 13 hours on the second one). I was wrapping in it, or, if it was too warm, I would put it on my laps and pet it like an animal, touching the tails and feeling the texture of the scarf. And it is unbelievable how much comfort it gave me.

Today I have had taken a photo of me wearing this felted scarf.

I feel wonderful wearing it. My mother was fascinated, too, and said it was fit for a mermaid - one living on a marsh where cranberry is growing. And this is exactly what I asked from Galina and hoped to receive (but, being a realist, I tried not to hope for my dreams to become real - it happens so seldom). However Galina made much more than I asked for.

I have never owned a felted item before and frankly I did not have much trust in them. I had a feeling that a felted scarf would either be flimsy or quite thick and coarse. However my felted scarf (maybe I should call it a stole, I am not sure) is almost cashmere soft (I know it is made of fine merino) and very supple and drapes well. Besides, it feels very strong and sturdy and I hope to wear it for many years to come.

It also has a wonderful texture. The pattern is of course not botanically precise but it has the wonderful irregularities which make it so alive and natural - like a piece of a swamp. Yes, I am wearing a piece of a magic cranberry swamp and I am very happy; it is also a long way through an enchanted forest, it is a map of wetlands, it is my green shield to protect me from cold wind and sad thoughts.

Galina, dear, I cannot thank you enough. It has been long since I was so happy about a piece of clothing. There must be some magic in the scarf - possibly due to the two magic orange tails. Thank you!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

New Velour Pillow Cases

This has been a very busy week. I have participated in the toughest negotiations... actually, they were tough mostly because the parties were not very well prepared, or, more specifically, the documents were a mess. I hate participating in the negotiations when documents were translated by someone else (save for my proven partners), because as a rule there will be mistakes and inconsistencies. I make mistakes, too, but they are my mistakes... and there are not many, frankly. But in this case the legal agreement was one big mistake. We worked for 12 hours for several days and when everything was finished and the minutes were signed (at 10pm!) I was very happy. I even uncorked a bottle of champagne at home.

Speaking of nice things, my Uzbek ikat velour pillows from the previous post sold very quickly, and now I have another pair. They are even more beautiful, but oh so hard to photograph because of this silky glistening - even in the soft light. What can I do! Maybe it is not a bad thing when the item is better than in the photograph - better than the other way round, that is for sure!

It is a pity that a photograph cannot convey their silkiness and softness. This vintage silk velour is amazing to the touch; I do need to have a pair of such pillows for myself, only I need green or gray ones, to go with my new old Chinese rug.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Ikat Silk Velour - A Kinesthetic Heaven

I was very pleased to find this piece of vintage silk velour which was just enough for two pillow cases (20x20 inches). 

As a girl, I did not appreciate this fabric which was so much loved and treasured by my Uzbek relatives. They had pillows, bed covers, throws, decorative cushions and floor seating made of this ikat velour fabric, and I used to think snobbishly that it was too bright and 'too Uzbek'. It was in the same category as heavy handmade furniture made of walnut wood, hand cut lead glass vases and thick Aubusson carpets. All those things seemed very old fashioned, heavy, bulky, awkward and even ugly.

I am still indifferent to lead glass; however I like that old fashioned furniture, even if sometimes it looks somewhat primitive and naive in its attempts to imitate European style thus creating a new 'European Asian style', in my view. In addition to that, I bought a wonderful Aubusson rug last Sunday (you will see it when I get if from the dry clean). I have learned to appreciate the coziness of traditional Uzbek houses where everything is covered in rugs and carpets, throws, blankets and bedspreads, with lots of throw pillows and other soft things to lean and recline on. And this ikat silk velour (called 'bakhmal') is particularly treasured.

It is easy to see why Uzbek silk velour (or is it velvet?) is so much loved. It is lovely to the touch, smooth and cool, like grass in the shade or running water; it is a pleasure to hug a cushion covered with bakhmal. I can virtually touch it with my hand for hours while sitting at someone's house and talking, and I will keep enjoying the sensation.

This silk velvet is traditionally produced in Samarkand, in a rather primitive way, and it has a cotton foundation and a silk pile. Very easy to care for, and durable, and looks good even worn out, like a good rug. 

My pillow cases are especially nice, to my taste, because of the unusual color combination; I was fascinated by the slate blue background with greenish yellow vine, leaves and flowers contoured in magenta. This one is definitely not over the top, and it seems to have a certain Chinese influence. I would say that is is Uzbek fabric imitating Chinese designs imitating European art nouveau - is not it a nice example of cultural penetration and exchange?

I love how it looks in the afternoon sun, with spots of light here and there. It reminds me of grapevine in the autumn, when heavy grapes are hanging like crystal chandelier, and sun falling through the rusty colored leaves. Pity that this autumn I did not make it to Ferghana Valley, to take pictures of their amazing grapes; next year, maybe... In the meantime, I still have these velour cushion covers to look at and to touch.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Spring, Do You Miss Us, Too?

Yulduz Usmanova is easily the best Uzbek female singer. She seems to have been forever - I remember we had her album when I was really small - and she still looks young and seems to be full of life. I do not like her musical style in general (there is too much noisy music, to my taste), and I always regret she does not sing folk songs with acoustic accompaniment, or blues and jazz - those styles would suit her voice perfectly, in my view. But certainly I am not the one to tell her what to sing or not to sing. In any case, I love her voice, strong and emotional, with its smoky notes; she uses it skilfully.

This song I have not heard before. The title can be translated as 'Spring, Do You Miss Us, Too?" It is beautiful and is clearly based on folk music. Hope you like it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nostalgia Rustic

It may sound funny, but sometimes I become tired of our beautiful silk ikats with their barbarian boldness and lavish beauty. I long for something rustic and earthy to see and to touch, to clean my senses of rich colors and sophisticated patterns. Something of cotton and linen, in white and some clean plain colors, looking as if it should smell of old type plain soap (because the soap is stored in the cupboard where linens are also kept) and laundry blue.That is how linens in my great grandmother's house used to smell...

My pillow covers made of vintage linen with cross stitch embroidery - a set of two linen shams with roses and leaves, and one square pillow with flowers and a butterfly (the cut out details are lovely) are perfectly in line with this nostalgia for rustic simplicity. I am looking for something we used to have, and then got rid of;  I miss the smells and feelings.  The white curtains with crocheted lace and embroidery are also from that part of life which is over.

I wish I had at least three houses; one for this rustic style, linen and wood; another one for oriental lavishness with rich colors and luxurious fabrics; third one for clean Japanese simplicity with exquisite details. I would be moving between the houses depending on my mood. As it is now, I have to look for some sort of a balance in my only house.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Elvish Stole by Galafilc

This is something I must share immediately if I do not want to explode! Galina of galafilc on Etsy has made a felted scarf for me - I believe it is the most beautiful, unique and unusual scarf in the world!

I asked her for something easy to wear. I love greens and grays, and wear them a lot; my working wardrobe is mostly solids, and I wanted a scarf with a pattern. It was not difficult to decide what I wanted; Galina has a number of very elvish-looking pieces, like these mittens, and I wanted something fit for an elf or a dryad, too. I know I do not look like an elf, for those are 'inhumanly beautiful', unlike myself, but I still want something elf-worthy sometimes... so why limit myself?

I asked for a large felted shawl or stole with a vegetative pattern. I love fruits and berries, so I wanted the shawl to be like cranberry in the moss, and the colors had to be green, gray and a bit of red.  In response, Galina made a piece which far exceeded my expectations.

I just cannot tell you how much I like it. It is huge - 80x18 inches - and I am sure it will be heavenly soft to the touch. And warm. I need a generous and warm shawl for the office, and with this one I will feel like a dryad living in a magic forest. I adore the colors of grass and moss, and the red drops of berries. I hope the scarf will not be making me forget that I am at the contract negotiations and not at a gathering of ents. The shawl also has two 'magic tails' for making wishes, those orange in color. I am sure they will work!

I am amazed at how well Galina understood what I wanted and made even more and better than what I had in mind... she is a wonderful artist who seems to be a mind reader, too. I know the shawl will be even better live, and now I am only concerned about surviving until it gets to me. In addition, Galina is lightning fast; she decided on the design yesterday, produced it yesterday and shipped today! pity the mail is not as fast as her...

...For other dryads and elves - those who prefer shades of autumn leaves and wet earth - she has a scarf which might be equally amazing. I am just fortunate that its colors are not good for my complexion, otherwise I would have to buy it. It is quite different from mine, but just as unique and ecological in style, with amazing texture and colors.

And, of course, there are many other beautiful things at galafilc. I enjoy just browsing the shop now and then. The teapot purses are my favorites and I keep thinking... no, I am afraid I should limit myself for a while. 

Now, I am tired of emotions. I will go to bed, thinking of my scarf traveling a long road to me... Galina, thank you so very much! Hope it arrives soon. I know I will love it - I already do!

One Morning in Samarkand: the Ruhabad Mosque

...I started telling about my visit to Samarkand in September, and at last I came to finishing this short story. My walk only lasted for a couple of hours in the morning before work, but it takes me very long to write about it... however I promised to my friend that I will finish the story.

After marveling at Gur-e Emir Mausoleum, I started walking in the direction of the hotel, and saw a minaret on the right ahead of me. As I still had some time left, I let my curiosity lead me there.

So, there was this minaret with beautiful carved wooden doors, secured with a modern-looking padlock.

There were some roses around, much beloved by our poets, and old trees that would not let me see the mosque in its entirety. So, you will also see just bits and pieces, the way I saw it.

I stepped inside the small unfenced yard, and found myself in the beautiful shade provided by huge mulberry and fig trees. I love the sun spots on the old stone stairs... And can you see the box for collecting money for maintenance of the mosque? Everyone gives as much as he or she can, and I always put some money inside, too.

I love fig leaves, with their sandpaper feel and astringent smell. I can stand under a fig tree for hours, it seems, cooling down and feeling tension go away.

The roof of the mosque has beautiful details.

...and the inside part is beautiful, as well. All of the painted patterns have a ritual meaning. They will correspond to various meaningful figures, like the number of sura in Koran, the number of the Prophet's descendants, etc. 

There are eight doors to the inside of the mosque, like there are eight doors to the Heaven.

In the shaded yard, there are two big wooden couches (takhta or topchan). They are wonderful for having rest with a cup of tea. They put thick blankets on them (you can see one blanket - kurpa - on the couch on the left, but it is just one, and there should be many), some throw pillows, and in the center they put a low rectangle table. People will sit or recline, drinking tea with sweets, such as sugared nuts, milk nougat and dried fruits, almonds and pistachios, and then they can take a nap right there.

While moving slowly around and seeing the mosque in bits and pieces, fascinated by its quiet beauty and the play of shadows, I met a mullah - a Tajik man in his forties, with a noble face, sad eyes and a tired voice of someone who has to talk too much and does not enjoy it. He was very friendly, and told me a little about the mosque in his quiet slow voice.

It is called Ruhabad Mesjidi (Mosque Ruhabad) and dates to 1800-1820. It was a local area mosque, built to serve houses nearby, and it is close to a medrese (a religious school) and Ruhabad mausoleum. Ruhabad Mosque still functions, and the small minaret is in use - they call believers to prayer from the top of it. It stands close to the Ruhabad Mausoleum which is much older (dating to 1380), and to the Ruhabad medrese (a religious school).

This was a beautiful place, empty and serene, and I enjoyed that half an hour I spent there. After that, there was a long day, and we traveled through a desert and across hills before arriving to Karshi to take a plane home. But traveling in the desert is a different story.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Happy Birthday, my Jager!

My beloved dog, Arrack's Home Jagger (call name Jager), is 2 years old today! I am congratulating him, his breeder Marc Peeters, and myself!

On Sunday we were at a dog show. I am not really interested in shows, this was our first  experience. Jager was titled Best of Breed, for which I am grateful, but it is not really important. It was more interesting for me to show some obedience and just to watch him in the crowd once again. He always behaves perfectly  and does everything to please me - my perfect dog!

Friday, October 5, 2012

St Clement's Majolica Plate - It Is Here!

I just have to show this plate! I bought it from KimmiesTREASURES and it arrived several days ago. It is a majolica plate by the famous French St Clement factory, and it is so lovely - pictures just do not do it justice (very difficult to photograph, too, because of the glare).

I must say I love all things fruity - dresses, scarves, sweaters, purses, plates - and I just had to have this plate. It is quite old but in perfect condition, and a beauty to look at and to touch. Kimmie provide excellent service - great communication, fast shipping, sound packaging - I could not be happier! I must say that the price was very affordable, too. Kim does not have a lot of sales on Etsy yet, but I checked her feedback on Ebay and was very happy. I cannot recommend her enough.

Thank you, Kim, and I will definitely be back, especially if you find more fruity treasures for me!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Real Nomadic Rug

...Nomads, by definition, cannot own a beautiful house with a garden, a swimming pool, a conservatory and other wonderful immovable things, or they will stop being nomads. No beach cottages (do not go there right now, for you will not be back soon),  no supermarkets, dry clean, fast food, and even no shower. They have their livestock and yurts - and, of course, they have the whole desert and the sky above it... And obviously because they own so few material things, they have to make them as beautiful as possible. Their saddle bags, rugs, clothing, wooden doors of the yurt, runners - everything is lavishly decorated in bright colors, with patterns and symbols with deep ritual meaning. In many cases the meaning of symbols is lost, but the symbols are still used...

If you ever happen to visit Uzbekistan, make sure you have time to go to Nukus (the capital of the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan) to see the Karakalpak Museum of Arts founded by Savitsky. Besides unique collection of Russian and Uzbek avant garde art, the museum owns amazing pieces of Karakalpakstan folk art, including a yurt and its accessories. I was very impressed when I saw it for the first time, about 12 years ago.

I remembered nomads today because I took out the pieces of the most beautiful ethnic rug I bought recently to look at and photograph. Our rug pillows introduced recently were a success; at least I hope so (I have already received good feedback and hope that the other buyers will love their pillows, too). They were sold in a moment, and I only have one left of the second series. Now I am offering new rug cushion covers, made of a beautifully worn rug in autumn colors - I only listed them today. All these were made of soft and silky vintage rugs, made of silk and cotton or rayon; they are beautiful and lovely to the touch, and certainly more 'civilized' than a kilim made of coarse and itchy wool.

However, what I found recently is the most stunning, wildly beautiful, unusual and insane rug I have ever seen - not civilized at all. Behold!

The tribal pattern is intricate, and the colors are very autumn-like, festive and vivid. The color scheme is not very usual; the combination of pumpkin orange, dark blue, brick red, navy and sage makes me sigh in admiration every time I look at it.

As you can see, the pile is very thick, and it creates a striking contrast between well-preserved areas and worn out ones.The rug has holes and patches... it has certainly seen a lot during its long life. 

These two pieces are just enough for two medium sized pillow cases. They will not be easy to make, but I am sure they will be breathtaking. I know it is a very banal thing to say, but it never ceases to amaze me how things can travel around the globe; who know where these pieces of old nomadic rug will end up? and will  they be bought together or will be parted? We will see... I hope to offer them in my Etsy shop next week.

By the way, even though this is a very real nomadic rug, it is not coarse and itchy at all. It might have been owned by a family with distinguished taste.

My Favorite Toys: Nails and Clothespins

A while ago, Etsy admin asked the readers to tell about their favorite toys. It was fun to remember; this is what I wrote.

"Wooden clothespins! I pretended them to be a pack of wolves and invented stories about them. I had about 20 wolves in the pack, and each one was different - I could tell one from another by the shade of wood, speckles and stains and such. I remember there was a she-wolf, light beige in color - almost white - she was young and beautiful. And then there was a pack leader who was a veteran of many fights; he was dark brown and covered with scars. And of course there was a romance, and many adventures, and cute wolf cubs later on. I was about 6 then. Thank you for asking, it made me smile".

(the clothespins were just like these, offered by vintiquesprims)

It is true that those clothespins gave me hours of happiness. I used to spend summers with my great grandparents in the Crimea; they did not have many toys at home, and I did not bring my own with me. They had many other interesting objects instead. 

A tabby colored cat Dina (live). 

Two porcelain figurines - a fawn bulldog and a white deer.

A chest full of crocheted doilies, yardage lace, embroidery and samplers; it smelt of camphor balls. I still love the smell. I know everyone hates it, but I love it. 

A cupboard with items like cookie cutters, pottery, silverware (could be played with, too, but great grandmother would not allow me) and a very old and thick book entitled "How to Be a Model Housewife", with pictures of new look style dresses,  recommendations on how to be a good wife and mother and lots of recipes. A bag full of buttons was also stored in the cupboard. 

(and these cookie cutters from vintagewall closely resemble ours. actually I need to buy a vintage set, and this one is very nice, but I will try finding one locally).

...I actually wanted to say something about the clothespins. That is right, we lived in the Soviet Union and were not spoiled with toys. We had some, but not nearly like the choice and quality of toys available to the US kids. However I believe a child does not really need a lot of bright expensive ready-made toys; to a certain extent, they can even be... not harmful, of course, but probably not very useful, because they leave so little to the imagination. A Barbie can only be a Barbie, even if you put a Scarlett O'Hara dress on her. She is too discrete. On the other hand, a very basic doll, with a primitive face (there can be no face at all), can be turned into anything. 

I also had several nails as toys (I was 6 or older so it was safe enough and they were not sharp). They were rather large iron nails; found them in great grandfather's toolbox. I would take a piece or rope, cut and untwist it, and make hair for them. Dresses and coats were made of leaves. I played with them in the garden - it was about half a mile from home and I was asked not to take the clothespins there so that not to lose them.  Of course, the garden was full of amazing things such as Colorado beetles, tiny frogs, worms etc., but sometimes I just wanted to sit and play with something so I found the nails and they were great. There were a princess (blond), a warrior (read haired) and a wizard (gray haired). 

(very nice old nails, even better than mine, by epochco)

Of course there were many more items I played with, which were not intended for play (I am not talking about knives now, although I loved them, too). Clothespins and nails are just very good examples of how a child can play with very simple things which cost nothing. 

I know that now there are wooden dolls available which can more or less serve the same purpose. They have very little details, and a child can turn them into anything: this is what I call a good play! (I only need to explain to my girl that she will have clothespins instead of new Liv dolls from now on. But in fact she has a very good imagination and often invents new uses for things which I like very much).

And what were your favorite toys? Please tell me! 

(basic wooden peg dolls by LaFiabaRussa)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Custom Order Screens and Other Things

...Life has been busy recently, which is not a bad thing of course. Today I need to ship three packages, and there will be two more tomorrow; right now I work at home, so I have time to go to the post office more often, as items are ready.

Within the last several weeks, two of my items which were reserved for specific customers were bought by someone else. This causes certain difficulties for me as I have to cancel the order and wait for the cancellation to be processed, and this is a nuisance to me and a disappointment to the buyer. 

In the first case, my customer just gave up a magnificent Russian floral wool shawl originally reserved for her, telling me not to cancel the order for her sake. In the second case I had to cancel the order because I promised to send that scarf as a gift to another customer. Now I understand why people use screens with words like 'RESERVED' or 'CUSTOM ORDER' - for custom orders and layaways, hiding the actual item pictures. It is because the buyers often do not read carefully. 

To a  certain extent I am pleased that someone was so thrilled with my item that decided to buy it immediately; on the other hand, I would prefer people to actually read the text... at least some of it, where it says about dimensions and specifics...

So I made two pictures for my custom orders and layaways and hope they will help prevent such accidents. 

These are based on old parchment and suzani and old hand printed fabric. I can already see I will need to adjust the letters because on preview they touch the right border, but I can do it later.

Today I need to ship the packages, proofread a report (my boring 'real' work) and take my dog to the club, to register him for a show and an obedience exam. I am not really interested in dog shows, and actually I believe the dog show industry (that is, after it became an industry) has caused a huge irreparable damage to health and working qualities of most breeds. But I want to show him to have a written statement that he has all teeth in place; given how this crazy Mechelaar uses them, he can lose some (in theory) during protection training; such cases are known. And we need to pass the obedience to have our paper on hands.

He looks just like a mythical dragon sometimes:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...