Suzanis

suzani1

In Uzbekistan and regions of Central Asia, the walls are lined with colourful embroidered cloths called suzanis. The large cloths are created by hand asuzani2nd are an integral part of a young woman’s dowry. When a daughter is born, a large piece of cotton is brought to a village woman, the kalamkash, who sketches am elaborate design onto the cloth and divides it into strips (Union Purl, 2009). The portions of cloth are distributed to the women of the family who will work on them individually, returning them when finished for reassembly. This piece will become a symbol of the bride’s first home and family. As for the young girl, from the age of six, she learns and practices her embroidery skills on suzanis which will eventually be used to decorate her home.

A typical suzani pattern (above, Heilbrunn, 2007), features a central medallion surrounded by flowering shrubs and floral sprays, especially tulips, carnations and irises. It is not uncommon to find other natural patterns: leaves and vines, fish, birds (left, O’Connell, 2009) and fruit, especially pomegranates. The embroidery is traditionally done with silk thread although the colour seems to vary by region, both vivid and muted colours being used.

suzani3The very root of the word suzani is the Persian word for needle and the patterns, while complex, traditionally use only chain, satin and buttonhole stitches (bottom right, Union Purl, 2009). The base stitches are done with silk thread but one of the characteristics of suzanis is the extensive use of couching. This technique allows the use of thicker, sometimes metallic, threads that do not draw so well through cloth (top right, O’Connell, 2009). They are laid on the fabric and sewn into place with a second, finer thread.

suzani4While the oldest suzanis identified are only a few hundred years old, there are references in court records to embroidered textile wall hangings that fit the description dating back to the 15th century (below, Wikipedia, 2012). It is an art form still alive in this region however and still a part of the daily life of the people.

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CITED REFERENCES

Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, Wall hanging [Uzbekistan (Nurata)] (07.72), <http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/07.72> October, 2006, (Accessed November 7, 2012)

O’Connell, Barry, “Suzani Embroidery the O’Connell Guide”, <http://www.persiancarpetguide.com/sw-asia/Rugs/Uzbek/Suzani.htm>, November 18, 2009, (Accessed November 7, 2012)

Union Purl, “S Is For Suzani”, <http://unionpurl.blogspot.ca/2009/02/s-is-for-suzani.html>, February 8, 2009 (Accessed November 7, 2012)

Wikipedia, Suzani Textile, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzani_textile>, July 31, 2012 (Accessed November 7, 2012)

Maribou Mules

Picture it – Hollywood 1950. You’re lounging in your penthouse flat waiting for your gentleman caller. You’re wearing the most delicious peignoir set, filmy, flowing and feminine. There’s a knock at the door and you pad barefoot across the carpet. Wait a minute – that’s not right. Look down, what’s wrong with this picture? Your feet, love. They look so… naked.

You need mules. Marabou mules to be precise. Briefest history? They’ve been around a lot longer than we think. Mules showed up in the 19th century French courts where a glimpse of a girl’s foot was an event to remember (and, really, is it any different today). No one knows who added the stork feathers but isn’t it wonderful that they did? Mules reached their peak in the early 1950’s when any sex kitten worth her whiskers had a pair tucked away for special occasions. Dainty and delicate but, most importantly, fluffy. Like the best lingerie, they hint at what’s underneath but don’t give away the whole story.

Now, I hear you asking: what about my pumps? My ballerina flats? Well, there’s a time and a place for everything, love. Most women save them for more private times but if you have a hankering to strut into the dentist’s office or the daycare, who am I to argue? I can tell you personally that feathers on your feet will definitely spice up your next trip to the grocery store.

The best part? They look good on everyone and good in every color. Truly a remarkable feat. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if that pun was intended, darling). For a quiet night at home try champagne or white. Playing the coquette? Pink will fit the bill. Taking no prisoners? Cut straight to the heart of the matter in red. You’ll find them in all of these colors and more. Black, beige, blue, brown, and, Heaven forbid, lime green. You can even find leopard, zebra and tiger prints if that’s what’s you’ve got a secret yearning for.

So figure out your favorite color and take those first few steps towards your next adventure. With a crossed leg and that little powder puff dangling just so carefully off of your toes, you are a force to be reckoned with.

And when you hear that knock, get off your chaise lounge and sashay over to the door in a pair of marabou mules. Let your inner bombshell out to play because, darlin’, company’s coming and he’ll never know what hit him.

—I wrote this a few years ago for RetroRadar

I DID IT!!

My life has a history of just flying to shit in April. Every damned year. I first tried NaNoWriMo in 2008. Joe told me about it and I sort of pushed him to do it but didn’t mention at the time that I had signed up for it the first time I visited the site. To my surprise (Joe claims that he wasn’t surprised), I finished it. A 50,000 word novel in a month.  You know what? It was kind of easy.

Fact is, I type way faster than my Inner Critic can read so by the time he’s sputtering about something, I’m already working on the next page and couldn’t possibly go back.  I learned that I can churn out 1000 words in an hour or so, should I need to.  Admittedly, it’s mostly crap but it’s crap that’s written on the page and ready to edit and polish into… shinier crap. And that’s fine. I’ve never really dreamed of writing a novel.

A script? Now that’s another matter.  I used to work in film and television wrangling scripts.  I love them. It’s kind of like haiku, there’s a strict form to follow but so much room for style within that format. So, in 2009, I tried NaNo’s “little sister” of a project, Script Frenzy.  100 page script written in the 30 days of April. Yes, April.

Crashed and burned on Day 2. Can’t even begin to describe last April because I had no idea what was going on and why everything had gone sideways. So I didn’t finish. Come December 1, 2009 with another successful NaNo behind me, I was nervous.

But this story has a happy ending. I did it. April still kind of went to hell and I still did it. I found the magic number. For NaNoWriMo, I know that I can knock out 1000 words at a sitting. Well, for Script Frenzy, I can knock out 5 pages a day.  I had a much harder time not listening to the Inner Critic but I damn well did it. Printing out my very own script for the first time and seeing it in its entirety was a truly awesome experience and I’m going to have to admit that when I typed FADE TO BLACK, I actually got a little teary.  I didn’t really believe that I could do it.  Now I’m taking May off and I might just edit the sodding (albeit, really funny if I do say so myself) thing in June. Who know, I might even show it to a few people.

Bear With Me

I was berry picking at the farm and, well… there’s no other way to say it really.  I wrote a haiku about it.  I love haiku, it is by far my favourite form of poetry.  The rigid structure requires that you choose your words carefully and that’s yummy.

Blue sky through birch leaves,
I miss the fucking jack pines.
Never thought I would.

That is it.  I may have even completed one that I started writing a couple of years ago but just couldn’t nail.