Friday, September 26, 2014

The Warm Feeling of Having Made Something Nice

Sometimes you make something and understand immediately that it is a good thing. You keep looking at it, pleased with yourself and with a warm feeling somewhere in your chest. This infinity scarf made from a vintage Russian shawl is like that; it gives me the warm feeling of a small but important achievement.

This was one of the batch of vintage shawls I found recently. Many of them were in very good condition, but this one was badly damaged. However it was so beautiful that I had to have it. I took a photo for the collection, and then we turned the shawl into a scarf for someone to wear and enjoy.

Yes, this was a lovely shawl, never worn, and I could not leave it where I found it. Instead, I brought it home to give it another chance of being worn and loved. You can find it in our Etsy shop and I guess it will not be there for long.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Our Vintage Rikki Tikki Tavi

I have recently bought a lovely vintage book which I have been wanting for a while. It is a book of stories from The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling, published in 1980 in Russia, with the most endearing illustrations. It is not the complete Jungle Book; it only contains several stories, my favorite ones. And I think that the most beloved one is about Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, the fearless young mongoose.

I am sure everyone has read the story as a child. It has been a great pleasure for me to read the story with my own daughter and look at the wonderful pictures by Valentine Kurdov. In every story, there is at least one watercolor and several black and white pictures.

Here you can see Rikki talking to the birds and exploring the garden. You can feel alertness and energy of the little strong animal who enjoys life and movement.

Mongoose and cobra are exotic creatures for a Russian artist, and I think Kurdov had to consult biology books, photos, and maybe went to the zoo. He did an excellent job; the animals look very recognizable and alive. Of course Kurdov was an excellent artist - look at the single cobra at the picture on the right, it is like a hieroglyph. A sign which means danger. And the mongoose is so touching and human like, standing in front of the snake, talking to her in the picture on the left. Rikki  looks somewhat vulnerable, he is still a very young mongoose, and the snake is adult and strong. But the mongoose has lots of dignity. Look at the rhythm of the picture - it is flowing clockwise, moving endlessly, full of inner energy. It reminds me of Oriental miniatures. 

Here you can see Rikki killing a tiny but deadly Karait amidst lavish exotic plants, and then Rikki is talking to Chuchundra, the musk-rat, who is afraid of everything and everyone. My mother said: "Poor Chuchundra! She is weeping! And look at Rikki, he is strong and agile! With his strong jaws full of sharp teeth, he is just like our Belgian Shepherd Dog!" Indeed, Rikki looks a bit like my Malinois.

The story tells a lot about what courage is. Courage is not to be afraid of anything; it is about being able to fight despite your fear and clear understanding of the greatness of the danger. Kipling tells several times of Rikki being frightened or concerned. The little beast, with all his fierceness, wants to live and recognizes the risks, but fights nonetheless because this is what mongooses are for. Once he is set on the target, he does not go back. He actually cannot let go of the snake for he then would be killed by the large and strong enemy.

A very dramatic moment - Rikki destroying snake eggs, while the bird is distracting the mother snake, Nagaina. And in the next picture he is telling her that all her eggs are ruined and there is just one left - the young king cobra which he can swap for the life of the human boy.

And the last black and white picture is of the peaceful garden full of flowers, birds and frogs, without any snakes. Darzee the Tailorbird sings his chant praising Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, "the valiant, the true, with eyeballs of flame". The very last picture is another watercolor of Rikki chasing a cobra, as if to reconfirm his commitment and readiness to fight for his friends and territory.

If somehow you have missed this book in reading to your children, I very highly recommend it. It is a really good book which teaches good things. And it is also lovely and amusing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Roses and Paisley - a Lovely Duet; Our New Infinity Scarf

I have just realized that we have made 78 infinity scarves so far. Some of them were made from ikat silk, a few - from crepe de chine, and there were many of them made from vintage Russian shawls. We feel that this is a great way to utilize those shawls which are damaged beyond repair and cannot be worn as is.

The endless scarf I want to show today is made from a very vintage hand block printed shawl. The print is just lovely - like a bright watercolor with colorful roses and paisley.

It is a heavy wool fabric with some polyester added, which prevents it from wrinkling. This wool and lavsan blend was very popular in the 1960-1970s. And it drapes really well, in nice large soft folds.

There are so many ways to drape it - it is a very versatile piece. And every time I look at it, I find new lovely nuances. The paisley are delicious, and the color combination is redolent of the autumn, harvest, fruity mellowness, dark evenings in the orchard...

This one of a kind infinity scarf made from a vintage Russian shawl can be found in our Etsy shop here - .

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Almost Wordless

...This is the combination which I really love - my lavish Russian shawl named Almond, and Feminite du Bois by Serge Lutens. This shawl reminds me of autumn fruits, so mellow and ripe, and the perfume smells of an old orchard - fruits, moss, a hint of cedar wood... Autumn is my favorite time. It came at last.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Very Rare Vintage Russian Shawl by Zlata Olshevskaya

Recently, I developed a great interest in the Russian shawls. When I was younger, I never cared for them, thinking that they were too bright, too busy and way too folk. I wanted something more "modern". Now, as I am growing older, I feel that they are very modern - in fact, timeless. Not all of them, possibly, but a great many. 

I want to share my recent find - an extremely rare shawl designed by the famous Zlata Olshevskaya of the Pavlovo Posad Manufacture. This shawl is called Necklace a.k.a. 8th of March (the International Women's Day was a very important holiday in USSR) and dates to 1976. It was long discontinued, and many modern collectors are eager to find it.

I found it at a flea market, in near perfect condition, and recognized it immediately. Do you remember that adrenaline surge, when you realized you have found something really good? Of course I grabbed it and rushed home to look at it without a haste. 

It is a large shawl made of fine wool, with intricate print of roses, cornflowers, pansies and leaves. The composition is quite complex - there are lavish garlands, crowns and bunches of flowers. However, all this abundance is in perfect balance.

It is easy to see why this artist is so famous and loved by the collectors. I am grasping for words to describe the loveliness of all these flowers, large and small ones. Zlata Olshevskaya had a very beautiful vision of the world. In one of her interviews she said that she used to spend a lot of time in the fields and woods, making sketches of plants.

The colors of the shawl are too bright to my taste, frankly speaking. I think this might be a reflection of the bright and bold fashion of the 1970s, when these colors were widely used; hence the combination of a rather traditional graphics and this candy bright colors. And I can just see this shawl with a very feminine new look dress - I know that style is from an earlier period, but I feel they would go together very well.

All in all, being able to hold this rarity, drape it, try it on and just look at is a great pleasure. This is truly a part of fashion history. I am not keeping it, as we do not really make each other look better, so it will go to Moscow, to someone who will love and wear it. That girl has a birthday on 8th of March, so the shawl will have another special meaning to her.

Now I want you to just behold and enjoy. I hope you will appreciate this beauty as much as I do!

We have many vintage Russian shawls in our Etsy shop - please come and take a look!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...