Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A Joint Training Session with a Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Today, my Malinois and myself trained together with a Caucasian Shepherd Dog owned by my friends. Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are quite difficult to train, and I am very impressed with what I have seen today.

A lot of attention to the handler and readiness to work.

A very decent heeling.

This is how Jean does "come" - not fast, but this is not a fast dog. It is normal.

 He does love his trainer. They have a very good contact.

Jager's work today was mostly about waiting. He is a very active dog, and it is not easy for him to be idle when something is going on, and especially when I am talking and laughing.

But he did his best and was praised by me, and then we walked and played, and he was happy. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

More Ikat Infinity Scarves

We were so happy with our first ikat infinity scarf (which was bought right away) that we immediately made two new ones. I greatly enjoyed playing with these silk circle scarves, wrapping and draping them in so many ways. One of them is just insanely beautiful:

It is not easy to combine several different pieces of bright fabric with bold and intricate patterns into a balanced piece - I heartily congratulated my mother on this success! Taking photos of this scarf was a great pleasure, and the only hard part was to choose the main photo for the listing in our Etsy shop - I just could not decide which one I liked more. This rainbow of colors in traditional Uzbek ikat patterns is not for the faint of heart!

The second loop scarf is made from very old vintage Uzbek silk with black, white and dark green ikat pattern. It is almost antique (definitely older than myself), and amazingly smooth and supple - lovely to the touch! Certainly not as striking as the previous one, but probably is easier to wear.

It drapes softly, and will look great anywhere you go.We are very excited about this line, and working on these scarves is a pleasure. A loop scarf provides endless possibilities of wrapping it around your neck and shoulders (might be used as head scarves, too - I need to give it a try) in different ways, and pure mulberry silk is wonderful to the touch.

I hope there will be many more new ikat silk scarves at Mulberry Whisper soon; we should have introduced them long ago. Uzbek silks, with their gorgeous ethnic patterns, are an excellent choice for endless scarves, and we have plenty of fabrics to choose from.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Good-Bye, Little Bear...

I know I said many times that I was indifferent to teddy bears. Who wants bears? They are big, clumsy, with silly faces and there is not much you can do with them. Small stuffed dogs and horses are much more interesting. So I did not even look for bears. We have sold two vintage bears at MulberryTerrace and are offering two more at the moment, but I was not touched with then in the least, even though they are quite nice.

This one was made in Germany. He is made from mohair, stuffed with straw and has glass eyes.

He is beautiful, stylish and lovely to the touch. More photos and information can be found here.

The second "high end" bear we are offering now was made in the USSR in 1970s. It is a charming little creature made from mohair, with movable arms and legs.

He is so small, he can travel with his owner everywhere. At the moment he lives at Mulberry Terrace.

I like these bears, and enjoyed taking photos of them, but was not tempted to keep them, and will be glad when they sell. I am not a teddy bear person at all.

And then my mother brought me another one.

She told her friend that I was looking for vintage toys, and Vladimir gave her this sad looking teddy. His son (now adult) used to sleep with this teddy since he was 1 year old and till 12 years old (mostly keeping him under the pillow at night). The boy loved the teddy, took him everywhere, fed him with a spoon - you know what children are like. Then at some point the bear was forgotten and abandoned and spent many years on a shelf in the bedroom (not in the closet as I thought initially).

Mother's friend was uncertain about giving the toy away, but then he said that maybe someone would want it. He doubted that that because this was such an old and worn toy, so simple and awkward, while there were hundreds of beautiful new toys available.

The bear is from perestroyka time - 1980s - when Soviet people lived in very difficult conditions and not many of them could afford expensive toys for their kids. He was quite cheap, and was brought to Tashkent from Leningrad, Russia, as a gift for the little boy.

He looks very touching, with his awkward little paws sticking out in the silly way. And this is the first bear ever that I would like to keep.  He is already sold, and will go to the US together with the pink horse from one of the previous posts, and... well, I am familiar with "buyer's regret", but this is the first time I am having "seller's regret" and was almost thinking of cancelling the sale. Of course I will not do that - it would be too unreasonable, so he will go tomorrow... Good luck to you, little bear; I am sure your maker could never imagine that you would travel that far. I hope your new owners will be kind to you.

...And I still do not understand what is so special about bears. Can anyone explain this? 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Silk Ikat Infinity Scarf - Our First Experience

I have been looking at infinity scarves for quite a while, but cannot say I was fascinated with them. Possibly this was because I only saw them in photos. I was not inclined to carry them in our Etsy shop, Mulberry Whisper, but at last I decided to make it a try and asked my mother to make one.

We selected a lovely piece of Uzbek ikat silk - khan-atlas, loomed from variegated (self-patterning) yarn. This fabric is quite thick, supple, smooth and cool to the touch. We discussed the size, and my mother produced our first silk ikat infinity scarf! 

I must say that when I just saw it I was not too impressed. Of course Uzbek ikat fabric is striking, but what is so special about this particular type of scarf? Why are people so crazy about these scarves - infinity, eternity, loop, circle scarves and whatever else they are called? I was wondering... and then I started playing with the scarf, wrapping it carelessly around the neck of the mannequin...

...or letting it slip from the shoulder, which should look stunning with a strapless dress or a corset...

...or letting it rest on the shoulders like a huge cowl...

...and finally I let it unwrap in a single loop to look at this striking Uzbek ethnic pattern, all in multicolored lightnings - emerald green, red, yellow, blue, black, white... It is a generous size, and the design shows beautifully. The lush fabric is so smooth, it is gleaming softly, and you feel tempted to touch it again and again, just to enjoy the sensation of pure silk under your fingers.

Stunning. This is the right word to describe our ikat infinity scarf. It is so simple and easy to wear, and yet so expressive and bold - I understand now why people love these circle scarves so much. We will make more - we are eager to see this design in different shades and patterns of silk and cotton; put them on Arabella, our mannequin, and then stand and stare in admiration.

What about you? Do you like infinity scarves? Do you wear them? If yes, what colors and fabrics you prefer? Thank you!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Soviet Toy Horse Moves to the US

It is true that you can never know for sure what your child will be thrilled with. You might be buying something being confident she will love it, and then she hates it for some reason obscure to you but absolutely obvious to her. Or vice versa.

The little pink horse came home with me from the flea market; I bought it because it reminded me of toys I had as a child. It is very typical of Soviet toys - very straightforward, simple, primitive. Very cheap - 45 kopecks which was roughly the equivalent of 45 cents 25-30 years ago. I believe some of Soviet toys were produced at the factories under the Ministry of Defense as a by-product. I might be wrong though - there were many toy factories in USSR - but some toys really looked like they could be used as weapons.

Not this plastic pony, though. The pony is kind and nice, and I would like to own one when I was small. I still feel sorry for a yellow horse - my sand toy which got lost somewhere on a beach. I looked for it for so many days after and found many other valuable things (shells, coins, feathers, pieces of cheap costume jewelry, a broken doll), but no horse. And I have a weak spot for horses. I am indifferent to teddy bears, though...

So, about the pink Soviet horse, I would love to have one as a child - this is just the type of dolls I loved. The good thing about these very primitive toys was that they could be whatever you needed them to be. They left a lot to imagination, and such a horse could be a war horse for a knight, a beautiful mare for a princess, a flying horse from an oriental fairy tale, and so much more! Barbie with her horse is much more discretionary - she can only be Barbie, and even when she is dressed as Scarlett O'Hara, she is still Barbie in disguise. Which is not bad, too - not everyone is so recognizable.

When I brought the toy horse home and washed it, my daughter immediately appropriated it, saying she wanted it to stay. 

...Interestingly, she played with it for a couple of days but yesterday told me she did not need it anymore and I could sell it. When I just started thinking about writing this post (the day before yesterday), she still loved the horse and wanted to keep it, and I was going to write a touching story about how my spoiled child preferred the old simple toy to her beautiful new toys from the US, but this is not the case - Madina ruined the story! I listed the pink pony on Mulberry Terrace (our vintage shop) yesterday night and it sold in half an hour - our record time. Now Madina still has a Soviet plastic dog left - see below:

She claims she will not part with the dog but I suppose this is not true. She gets bored with toys quickly and I do not want them to accumulate in the house so most likely the brown doggie will be listed soon, too. And the pink horse will go to the US - hopefully it will be loved there.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Sun at Casa De Gato

I received a package from Galia Grayevsky of Casa De Gato - it was in December, I just somehow could not write about it sooner, but better late than never. The package was full of lovely things, from the crocheted snowflakes above - I love them so much! - to hair clips for my daughter who now does not part with them (she even manages to wear the two together sometimes) -

...and a lovely strawberry nursing necklace for my sister in law who has recently given birth. Lily loved the necklace and wears it all the time; she has already washed it once with baby soap, and it survived the procedure without any damage, just as we were told. It looks lovely on Lily, with her bright eyes, white skin and black hair.

All in all, we found something for everyone (save for men) in CasaDeGato.etsy.com and are very happy with the items and great service. Now Galia is expanding the range of styles introducing crocheted jewelry (in addition to more specialised nursing necklaces). I do not wear costume jewelry, but in this case I was surprised to find that I really liked the wooden crocheted necklaces and could (with pleasure!) wear this one, for instance:

It is so elegant and sophisticated, and would raise no brows in our office; moreover, I am sure all of the ladies would be thrilled with it. I guess I need to expand my horizons a bit. There are many things to love at Casa De Gato!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

There is a raffle going on to support a woman who has lost her husband (just 40 years old) to cancer in December and is left alone with a 5 year old boy. Please consider buying a ticket or maybe buying something from her Etsy shop (http://www.etsy.com/shop/azulado - lovely ceramics!) to help. The full story is here. Please let us help Sandra together - if many people give several dollars each, or buy something from here, it will be a great support to her. Sandra's Facebook page is here.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Uzbek Suzani Pillows at Mulberry Whisper

We have listed more pillow cases made from vintage Uzbek suzani. Now there are three pillows, 12x18, which is a bit funny - why three? Who needs three pillows, or, alternatively, if I sell a pair of cushion covers, who buys a single one? Well, this is simply because the suzani fabric was quite small, and this is the best my mother could do in terms of layout - three lumbar pillows.

All three are slightly different which makes them even more interesting, in my view. There is also a slight discoloration from storage, which is to be expected - this suzani is quite old. Still, the stitches are tight, and the colors are vivid. My photos do not do them justice.

The suzani depicts a big wheel with flowers which symbolizes sun, and an almond tree (green branches with paisley-like fruits - those are almonds). It also has wavy stitches which stand for water.

Uzbek embroidery patterns are as sophisticated and colorful as traditional Uzbek music or dance. They seem to flow and curve and change directions. Just like with elements of ethnic dance, suzani elements have ritual meaning which was passed down generations. I wrote a bit about that here, and I will research and write more, mostly for my own education because I do not know enough about this part of our culture. In the meantime, you are welcome to take a closer look at the suzani, ikat and rug pillows we offer at Mulberry Whisper.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Katherine's Enamel Bracelet by A Fine Line on Etsy

This is something I should have written a while ago, but somehow I could not get everything together. By "everything" I mean myself with my camera, my sister and her bracelet we gave her for her 12th birthday last November. But finally we have met and at last I am writing this.

I always try to write about purchases which made us happy, and we were especially pleased with this particular find. I was looking for something to give to Katherine - something to last, unlike countless mass-market dolls, child's cosmetics, hair clips etc. - and I decided to look for affordable vintage children's jewelry. I was thinking of something in the range of 50 dollars and was looking at vintage silver bracelets on Etsy.

Then I found this lovely bracelet - Child's Sterling Silver and Guilloche Enamel Heart Bracelet with Handpainted Roses, it was called in the shop - and the moment I saw it, I realized we had to have it. Only it was more than two times more expensive than my perceived budget. I tried to look for more affordable items, but I kept coming back to look at this lovely piece and finally decided to write to the seller and ask if a discount was possible. 

Jana Robers Nelson, the owner of that shop named eyessayall (A Fine Line) was amazingly kind to me. She gave me a very substantial discount, packed this bracelet really well and shipped it promptly. It arrived well before the birthday date, and both my mother and me were much tempted to give it to Katherine earlier, to see how she reacts. However we have not done this (although my mother has done a similar thing on many occasions) and she received her present on her birthday.

She loves her bracelet and wears it all the time. I am sure she would wear it to the swimming pool and to her Taekwondo club if we allowed her. Frankly, I would wear it myself if it fit me - I like it so much, these delicate enamel hearts with pink roses on cream background.

Jana is a wonderful seller and an extremely nice person. Her shop is full of beautiful and unique things, and I especially love her beautiful enamel pieces. There are guilloche  lockets and brooches, earrings and necklaces, a lovely spoon, and so much more! She also offers Anri wooden figurines which look as if they came directly from a fairy tale. It is easy to find something to love there - this is a very nice shop with lots of individuality.

Dear Jana, I want to thank you again for this lovely bracelet; Katherine is also thanking you and wishing you all the best. We hope to be in touch!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Welcome to our vintage shop - Mulberry Terrace!

My dear younger cousin Gafa who lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, has opened his own Etsy shop. It is called Mulberry Terrace to ensure certain continuity and link to our own Mulberry Whisper, and Gafa sells his vintage finds there. So far, he has found three absolutely amazing vintage baskets - see one of them below:

It is a mail basket, roomy and shabby, and we are sure that every home need one. Even if not everyone is aware of it.

There is an equally amazing set of Norman Rockwell glasses with Saturday Evening Post pictures:

...a fantastic bright red vintage French omelet pan by Mirro -

...an etched cake server with lovely tarnish -

...and several vintage dolls; one of them is actually antique, a lovely blond girl by Kley and Hahn:

I urged Gafa very strongly to only buy things he really likes, because if something does not sell we will have to keep it. Looking at what we have now, I think I can keep the antique German doll and one of the baskets, while he is welcome to keep the rest: however I do hope we sell everything! Gafa has sold two beautiful vintage teddy bears to Japan on the second day after opening, which is a very good sign to me; he is quite good at selling and buying. So, dear younger brother, congratulations on your new shop and best of luck with thrifting and selling!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thank you, my Secret Santa!

The Russian Artists' Team on Etsy traditionally plays 'Secret Santa' game, and I took part for the first time. It was very exciting and I received a lovely gift from DemyBlack - these handmade earrings with Czech glass beads. The textured metal contrasts nicely with smooth glass which looks almost like Oregon Sunstone due to the shiny metal particles. The earrings are unusual but very easy to wear as they go well with so many things. I have already worn them and received lots of compliments; I was actually asked to share contacts of the artist so I do not have DemyBlack's card anymore, but I remember the address very well: DemyBlackDesign.etsy.com.  Thank you very much for the lovely gift!

(the last photo was taken by my daughter)

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