Sunday, 17 June 2018

The China Anniversary

May-June is birthday and anniversary time in the Handmade in Israel household. Mister Handmade in Israel's birthday is coming up soon, mine was in May, and our 20th wedding anniversary was a week or so ago. Of course I made a special card to mark the day.
The 20th anniversary is the china anniversary and the anniversary colour is emerald green and white. I made Mister Handmade in Israel this card with some "china" on it - a teapot covered in little hearts pouring tea into a cup - and added our names and 20 Years. Those teeny tiny hearts were very fiddly to cut out! I added a bright green paper inlay and cut the card out of white stock. The 20th wedding anniversary symbols were well and truly covered.
On my birthday Mister Handmade in Israel took me horse riding. It is something we have done once or twice before, though I am certainly no great expert. We went to Chava BaKfar in the nearby moshav of Kfar Rut, which is named after the ancient village of Kfar Ruta that appears on the Madaba Map in the area of the new settlement. Chava BaKfar was founded in 2006 and specializes in several types of horse riding including therapeutic riding, jumping and dressage, Western riding and nature treks. We took a nature trek and our guide led us through a local area, where he pointed out mosaics and the ruins of Khirbet Kfar Rut. We spotted birds of prey, many butterflies and saw several beautiful deer. It was a very pleasant way to spend the afternoon. 
My birthday present was tickets for the play סימני דרך (Road Signs) at the Jerusalem Theatre. It is a musical play about the life of Naomi Shemer, the composer of the Six-Day War anthem "Jerusalem of Gold". The play depicts Shemer at four junctions in her life, when she is forced to fight for her personal and professional future. It incorporates songs she wrote and composed, and portrays Shemer not as a national icon but rather as she really was: a complex artist, a revolutionary feminist, a woman who was not afraid to make herself heard, a private individual - who was funny, witty and warm - and the great woman of the songs.
Mister Handmade in Israel and I haven't seen so much Hebrew theatre in the years we have lived here but we both thoroughly enjoyed the play. I now see many more theatre visits on the horizon.
Naomi Shemer wrote the song "Jerusalem of Gold" for the Israeli Song Festival held on 15th May 1967, the night after Israel's nineteenth Independence Day. The song described the Jewish people's 2,000-year longing to return to Jerusalem. At that time, the Old City was still controlled by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and under its sovereign rule. Jews had been banned from the Old City and the rest of Jerusalem east of it, losing their homes and possessions and becoming refugees. All Jews were barred from either returning or entering the areas under Jordanian control, and many holy sites were desecrated and damaged during that period. Only three weeks after the song was published, the Six-Day War broke out, and the song became a morale-boosting battle cry of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF). Shemer herself sang it for the troops before the war and the festival, making them among the first in the world to hear it.
On 7th June, the IDF wrested East Jerusalem and the Old City from the Jordanians. When Shemer heard the paratroopers singing "Jerusalem of Gold" at the Western Wall she added a new verse to the song, about shofars sounding from the Temple Mount, a reference to an event that actually took place on that day.
For those of you not familiar with Naomi Shemer's beautiful song, here it is, sung by Shuli Natan, who, in 1967, was a young unknown singer. When Naomi Shemer heard her voice, Shemer knew that Natan was the one to sing her new song about Jerusalem.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Two Mums

A new customer contacted me and asked me to make a special card for her Mum. Mum's interests include volunteering once a week at old age homes where she, along with other volunteers, takes along music and gets all the oldies up and dancing. She also volunteers at a local school where she helps the students with their oral Bagrut in English. (Here in Israel a Bagrut certificate is awarded to students who pass the required written (and in some cases oral) subject-matter examinations with a passing mark 55% or higher in each exam.) Mum also loves to dance the Twist with her husband (I included a little photo of them dancing together on the card), plus she loves Frank Sinatra. But her favourite pastime of all, her daughter told me, is baking biscuits for her three soldier grandsons every week.
"Thank you so much for the card. It's perfect." my customer wrote to me, then later reported back that "She [mum] loved it."
This next rather humorous card was based on a photo sent to me. My customer's mum was at a demonstration on a rather chilly day in London. She was photographed in a blue mac and matching rain hat, holding up a sign with a rather different message to this one! I changed her sign to one mentioning all of her grandchildren, and added some flowers to brighten the picture. It was a fun card to create.
Returning to the theme of baking, this was a request for "something sweet" for a 13 year old girl. I popped an iced cupcake onto the card, along with balloons, stars and flowers, and added the big yellow number 13 to mark her age. And while we are discussing baking, these are some Zebra Fudge Cookies that I made recently. They were chocolaty, chewy and very pretty too. If you'd like to make some, the recipe is here.

Friday, 8 June 2018

25 Years!

I've mentioned this couple before. They're big supporters of my little business and both of them like to order cards from me for their wedding anniversary (and ALL their family's birthdays!). Their 25th wedding anniversary, their silver wedding anniversary, was fast approaching and, sure enough, both the husband and wife asked me to make two, fortunately very different, cards.
This first card, above, was requested by the "groom". It was based on their wedding photo. He asked me to add a "25", which I of course created in silver.
"Thanks Lisa for this incredible card!" his wife wrote to me.
She in turn requested a card showing her family's achievements over the last 25 years. I showed all five members of the family on the card. The husband and wife have their company logos next to them, representing their professional lives. Their twin sons are currently in the Israeli army. G., on the left, is wearing his olive green Israeli army uniform and the brown beret of the Golani Brigade. A., on the right, is wearing the dark green beret signifying that he is in Military Intelligence. Both young men hold the rank of Officer and have the two stripes on their sleeve to show it. Their sister, in the middle, is about to finish High School. Mum asked me to show her wearing a black graduation cap with a tassel. I finished the card off with "25 Years" in silver lettering and added a silver heart.
This time the husband showed his appreciation. "Great card, Lisa" he wrote on his Facebook wall.
Sunday Snap

Monday, 4 June 2018

Eighty, Seventy

My Dad recently reached the grand age of 80. Unfortunately I was not able to be with him to celebrate but of course a special card was popped in the mail for his big day.
Dad is a huge supporter of his local football team, Hull City A.F.C., who play in the Championship, the second tier of English football. I have made him many Hull City themed cards over the years. The first thing to go on this year's card was a black and amber striped scarf (Dad's team traditionally plays in black and amber, often with a striped shirt design, hence their nickname The Tigers). Then, moving clockwise, I added the logo of the family business where he spent most of his working life, and an Israeli flag (yes, his daughter lives in Israel but Dad has been a lifelong supporter of Israel and has done huge amounts of charity work for our little country over the years). Next came a watering can, a trowel and some tomatoes (Dad is obsessed with loves growing tomatoes in his greenhouse), a football, and the JNF (Jewish National Fund) logo showing a little boy wearing a Kova Tembel and hugging a tree. Finally I added a picture of my dear Mum and Dad on their wedding day back in 1966 (yes, he always reminds us that it was the same year that England won the World Cup!). In the middle of the card is a big number 80 to mark Dad's age, and below that, a black and white photo of his parents.
Dad didn't want any presents but I had an idea that I knew would make him happy. In recent years I have collected quite a number of family photos together and, when Dad visits, have sat with him and discussed who everyone is in the pictures. I put together a  photo book of all his close relatives, from his great-grandparents all the way through to my youngest son, his youngest grandchild. I have yet to see the book (we live in different countries!) but I know that it was a BIG hit!
Around about the same time, another dad was celebrating a milestone birthday. This dad turned 70 and his daughter asked me to make him a customised card showing his various hobbies. Books had to feature, she told me. He has researched Sephardi history in depth. He is a tour guide here in Israel and worked as a psychologist up until his retirement.
I showed bespectacled dad with a book on Sephardi history in one hand and a psychology book in the other. Another small pile of books is in front of him. Behind him I created a teeny tiny Montefiore Windmill, Tower of David, Dome of the Rock, a palm tree, a map of Israel, and a desert scene, all representing his tour guiding in Israel and the different places he takes his visitors.
"Happy 70th Birthday Dad Saba Grandpa!" the card says. Saba is the Hebrew name for grandfather.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Yaacov Agam Museum of Art

Mister Handmade in Israel thinks that it's strange that I like visiting museums on my own. I'm quite a sociable person really, but for several reasons I prefer to go to an art gallery or museum alone. I like to be able to spend as much time there as I wish, without being rushed or feeling that it is time to leave. I love taking photos - lots of them - without anyone thinking I am slightly crazy. And I like the peace and quiet. Shhh! Please don't talk to me whilst I am enjoying a special exhibition.
Having said all that, I had no problem at all going by myself to the new Yaacov Agam Museum of Art in Rishon LeZion on International Museum Day. A friend was going to join me but was running late, so I spent the time in this new museum all alone. I loved it!
Yaacov Agam is an Israeli sculptor and experimental artist best known for his contributions to optical and kinetic art. The son of a rabbi and a kabbalist, he was born Yaacov Gipstein on May 11, 1928 in Rishon LeZion, Palestine (now Israel), and was raised in a family steeped in Jewish spiritual values. Agam trained at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, before moving to Zürich, Switzerland in 1949. In 1951 he moved to Paris, France, where he still lives today. He has enjoyed great public success since his first one-person show in Paris in 1953, and has become one of the most influential artists of modern times. His paintings, which are displayed in famous buildings such as the Elysee Palace, the Pompidou Centre - where 'Salon Agam' is included in the museum's top list of collection masterpieces - and the White House, as well as in metropolitan areas such as New York, Miami, Chicago, Tokyo, Paris and St. Petersburg to name a few, define kinetic art with a signature use of bold colours and shapes. Agam is the highest-selling Israeli artist of all time. In a Sotheby's New York auction in December 2010 his painting 'Growth' was sold for $698,000.
Agam's art, or at least a large collection of it, has now found a permanent home in the place of his birth, at the newly opened Yaacov Agam Museum of Art. Located in Israel's third largest city, the museum - a joint initiative of the Rishon LeZion Municipality and the artist - showcases six decades of Agam's artistic research, and presents some of his most important artworks, coming from prestigious Israeli and worldwide collections and museums.
The entrance to the museum features the work 'Pillars of Clilla', named after the artist's late wife. The work includes 29 monumental columns, 20 at the entrance and 9 inside the building, which make the distinction between indoors and outdoors inconspicuous. The museum’s central space boasts his 'Panoramagam' work, a twenty-two metre long relief painting, originally displayed as part of Agam’s solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City in 1981.
Other exhibits range from transformable sculptures and paintings to relief paintings, interactive digital displays, objects, installations and sound works. His art engages and fascinates all ages and audiences, and spans a breathtaking range of artistic expressions. 
The building itself, designed by architect David Nofar, takes up 3,200 square metres and also includes a gorgeous outdoor sculpture garden.
In the Israeli public sphere, Agam is especially renowned for his 'Fire and Water' fountain at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, which brought colour to Kikar Dizengoff for years until it was taken down for renovations in 2016. He also designed the front of the Dan Hotel on the Tel Aviv Promenade, below, and the exterior design of Ne'eman Towers in north Tel Aviv. His works are regularly exhibited at the Israel Museum and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, and can be seen at the President's Residence, by the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem, The Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel HaShomer Hospital, Rabin Medical Center and many other places.
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