Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

(and this is my winner of "The Most Beautiful Last Rose" contest this year)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Venetian Glass Beads for my Russian Shawl

...So, I have this large Pavlovo Posad shawl that I adore - Fairytale by Sukharevskaya (шаль "Сказка", художник Сухаревская). It is in my favourite colours, it has a lovely intricate print, it is huge and silky to the touch and warm... my Precious! I love it so much, I decided that I needed a bracelet specifically for this shawl. I am sure you can understand.

This is me and Fairytale in Samarkand during the last weekend; a Russian shawl is a perfect travelling companion. You wear it when you are cold, and when it is too warm, you just fold it and put away in your bag, as it is so compact.

And can you see that bracelet? I feel that I could hardly find anything better suited for this shawl. I do not wear costume jewelry, but I cannot afford to buy emeralds and tourmalines in the size I would love to have for the shawl. However, I feel that murano glass with vermeil cores (that is gold over sterling) is jewelry enough, and this bracelet definitely suits my needs.

I must admit, I am very proud of how clever I was when I bought these beads. I was thinking about some Chamilia or Pandora charms, but I must admit that their glass beads are too expensive for me. And then I found these Perlavita beads here. There was a discount, so I bought six beads, most were about 5$, and only the 'wedding cake' bead - the one with painted flowers, it is called Serenissima on the website - was 14$. But I felt that I had to have it.

I was a bit confused when I received the beads (expertly packed, in perfect order, and there was a small gift, too). They are lovely, but rather large and cannot be combined with my Pandora, as I planned to do. They fit on Pandora and Chamilia bracelets, but look too bulky. However, I decided to wear them on their own, for which they are perfectly suited, and put them on the leather cord, to wear wrap style.

When I look at this, I am in aesthetic heaven. I think they look very festive, and provide the much needed splash of colour in the gloomy days of late autumn. I love the effect of foil under coloured glass, and I love the depth and richness of colour. To me, Venetian glass is as precious as gemstones. I do not wear plastic, as it is not jewellery to me, but Perlavita murano beads are very much jewellery - a real treasure.

You can see all of my Perlavita venetian glass beads here: 

And now I hope there will be a discount for the Serenissima beads, too, as I would love to have several more. I bought Chamilia teardrop earrings where you can put different beads, so I definitely need more beads! 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lavish and Generous Russian Beauty

Many Russian shawls have names. This one does not, or at least we do not know it. However, it is no worse for that; this shawl is full of character. It is overflowing with flowers - huge bright pink roses, delicate tulips, and out of this world fiery orange roses with red leaves which flow in between like flames. The leaves are emerald green, and the whole shawl looks like a treasure chest to me. Or an enchanted garden of elves where flowers are made of precious stones. 

The rear view is amazing. The lavishness of these flowers!

...and it looks amazing draped. Seriously, I am tempted to keep it.

The overall impression is that of generous and kind beauty of nature. Even though there are no fruits on the shawl, it looks fruity to me - makes me think of orchards in the autumn. Harvest. Baskets, full of fruits.

Even though I like it a lot, at present I do not think I can afford keeping it. The shawl is offered in my Etsy shop, and if you want it, get is while you can.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Waves of Uzbek Silk Ikat

Uzbek ikat silk is something I can look at forever, as if it at the sea or a meadow full of flowers. These are two expecially beautiful specimens I photographed for a customer today. You can click the photos to open them full size.

Close-ups of the same fabrics:

If you ever handled Uzbek silk, you will know that it is heavenly smooth and cool, like water in a river, or cream, or glass. It is interesting, that the pattern is not printed; the threads are dyed in a variegated manner, which makes them self-patterning, but not in a random manner. It is based on a drawing and the masters plan, calculate and dye the threads so that they form whatever pattern they should. I cannot even start imagining the complexity of this task, and to think that this technique was known for centuries!

And this is what my mother is going to make from the khan atlas: a wrap dress with kimono sleeves, very beautiful, flattering and easy to wear.

If you would like to have a similar tunic, you can order it in our Etsy shop here.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Shah-i-Zinda, the Precious Blue Fairytale

This spring I visited Shah-i-Zinda, the famous necropolis in Samarkand, Ubekistan. As it often happens, I procrastinated for a long time, unable to choose photos for the post. Truth is, I was very unhappy with the photos, as they fail to reflect the bright, jewel-like beauty of this architectural ensemble. But I will show them anyway; just remember that they do not give justice to the beauty of this place.

Shah-i-Zinda is a complex of tombs and other ritual buildings, where the eldest ones date to 9th century and the newest ones - to 19th century.

"Shahizinda" means "the Living King" in Persian.  The legend says that the Kusam ibn Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed, came to Samarkand with a small army to install Islam here. In one of the battles with pagans, right at this hill,  Kusam ibn Abbas was wounded with an arrow, but managed to hide in a small cave or a well, which closed as he entered. And he still lives there, hidden from people.

The wooden terrace is at the entrance, to the left. It has a beautiful painted ceiling.

On the left is a tall staircase to the main part of the complex. The legend has it that you should walk and count the stairs, and remember the number. On the way back, you should count again. If numbers match, you will be granted a wish. On the right you can see a pathway leading from the end part to the exit (so, this belongs to the end of the photo set, but the photo is vertical, so it does not fit anywhere else).

These are several groups of mausoleums throughout  the necropolis. They mostly belong to the relatives and the courtiers or military leaders of Timur the Great, also known as Tamerlane; we call him Amir Timur here. The mausoleums are lavishly decorated with majolica tiles in various shades of blue, green and turquoise. 

It is nice to see children around; they clearly enjoy spending time in the beautiful place. And aren't they lovely girls?

I was transfixed by the lavish beauty of these buildings. In reality, they gleam and glisten, and the tiles look deep like sea water with ripples.

I love all the amazing textures and intricate lines.

The kids were not alone; after some playing and looking around, they came to their adults (I kept an eye on them, just in case. And they allowed me to take photos).

We went further, and I took more photos. It would be good to have a camera which could take 3D photos! or, better still, one to capture my feelings - the awe, admiration and excitement! 

There is a long path through the complex, with buildings on both sides.

I think that the last part is the most beautiful one. It was like entering a jewellery box which is adorned with precious enamel even from the inside. You enter and gasp...

...and start spinning around, trying to see everything, absorb it and remember. This smooth, cool, bright, fragile-looking beauty, aimed at making people stop and stare in admiration. A tribute to the people gone. Not only to those who are buried here, but also, ultimately - to the masters, who created this wonder.

Some people come here to pray.

Others just come to see the beauty. The smallest one seems to be impressed, too.

This was a very enjoyable hour - it was as if I spent this time in a fairytale. I hope to come back with my daughter, as I know she will love it as much as I did. If you ever visit Samarkand, make sure you go to Shah-i-Zinda, too. This is a place worth seeing.

Friday, October 9, 2015

A Magical Sighthound in the Imaginary Garden

I was drawing this watercolour with my friends in mind; they have sighthounds and I adore those dogs. One friend has Saluki, and another one has a racing bred Afghan hound which means less hair and more muscles and temperament, simply put. However, the dog in the picture looks more like a greyhound which is okay as it is a sighthound, too.

I wanted to make the picture look somewhat medieval in style, and I tried to remember all the paintings, miniatures and tapestries I have seen which were relevant. This is magical dog in the imaginary garden, as you can see, and I wanted the garden to be as full of beautiful things as possible.

This was my first attempt after a long while. Basically, I wanted to remember how to do it. Of course the picture is not as it was planned, as I am still very clumsy after many years of not drawing and painting, but I enjoyed the process immensely. Now I have some other projects in mind, and I think it will be easier technically.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Quest for the Most Beautiful Rose of this Fall

In order to make our walks a bit more fun, we decided to embark on a quest for finding the most beautiful rose of this fall. That is, I suggested and Jager agreed, being a very agreeable dog and a good friend. So, all our morning walks now are focused on reaching some parks and gardens in search of roses - and, of course, we take a lot of photos.

Autumn roses are very special to me. I love roses altogether, but if you see a lovely rose in the summer, you know there will be many others. In the autumn, you never know if you will see many more roses, and for some reason this year there are not many at all. So I decided to loot at them and take photos and share. I love these flowers, love everything about them, even the first signs of fading - this imperfection makes them look more alive, vulnerable and dear to my heart. When you know something is going away soon, you treasure it all the more...

This is the rose that we found today, and it can well become my most beautiful rose this fall. However, there are two more photos in one of the previous posts, and there will be many more, I hope. We will continue our quest while there are still roses in the parks and gardens.

This is Jager posing next to this lovely rose.

And this is Jager just being silly!

...As you can probably guess by the format of the photos, they were cropped for Instagram. I opened an account several days ago and will be very happy to connect with you there! My address is 

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Flowers Dreaming of the Sea

During our morning walk today, I paid close attention to the flowerbeds in the local park. Funnily, I have never thought before that these flowers look very much like sea plants. These silvery leaves covered with silky velvet - are not they just like corals?

And here we even have ray fish or manta. We cannot see them clearly as they float smoothly but fast and hide in the overgrowth.

I do not know what these would be called, either under the sea or here on the ground. But they are definitely very sea-like to me. I can see them swaying in the water, moving slowly with the tide.

This flower would be a precious creamy pearl, glowing softly and mysteriously.

And tagetes... the only flower I know here - shame on me... tagetes definitely looks like parrot fish to me. However, its astringent scent reminds me where I am. I know there are people who cannot stand the scent of tagetes, but I adore its autumnal bitterness. It is sobering and calming down; a very grounding scent. I touch the leaves briefly and tell Jager that it is time to move on.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Aleppo, My Love. Pre-War Photos

About ten years ago I was fortunate to spend several weeks in Aleppo. I loved the city and kept planning to come back one day - with my family. Now, it seems, there is nothing to come back to...

I do not watch the news. I feel very sad for the people I knew personally, and for those I did not. I will never be able to come back to Aleppo I knew. Even if they restore the city, it will be different, so all I have left is memories and a bunch of photos. I know they are really bad, as I had a film camera which I could not use well, but I still want to share them. The lousy photos and my love for Aleppo, the city of cream marble, orange trees and honey-like muezzin voices. And floating above all is the scent of calabash smoke and coffee with spices. Sorry, Aleppo, you did not deserve what happened to you and your people. I still love you.


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