Sunday, 13 April 2014

Passover, the Festival of Unleavened Bread

Passover, or the Festival of Unleavened Bread, is clearly approaching when I find myself spending almost every evening cleaning and sorting through my home, and every morning cutting out white doves and colourful Star of David's for my holiday cards! It is all drawing to a close now since Seder night will soon be upon us and then there is a week of Chol Hamoed, "weekdays [of] the festival", to be enjoyed. Grandpa has arrived from the UK and we are ready for some great days out together.
Passover, or Pesach as we call it, is all about the food! We clean our homes thoroughly to remove all crumbs of chametz (leaven) to remember the Jews leaving Egypt who did not have time to let their bread rise, and we eat only "Kosher for Passover". You can read more about it in two of my previous posts here and here.
'Chag Pesach Sameach', a happy Passover festival, to those of you who mark the holiday. Enjoy this special week celebrating our freedom, and have a wonderful time with your friends, family and loved ones.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Oh Boy!

My lovely friend who requests cards for everyone in her family recently emailed me to tell me that her brother's family had grown. She needed a card for a brand new nephew and asked if I could show the whole family on it. My usual request for a family snap was promptly answered and I soon set to work drawing out the family group.
The proud big brother stands at the front of the group, whilst Mum and Dad, with their new son in Dad's arms, huddle together in the background. Once the family group was complete, I created some baby boy symbols - a bottle, pram and some little blue bootees - for the background. Gideon's name was added a week later after he had had his Brit Milahthe Jewish religious male circumcision ceremony.
I thought it would be interesting to show you how my cards come together, from the initial sketch to the final card. Most of my figures do have all their body parts, but in this case Mum's arms were behind Dad's back, so she didn't need any!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Spring is in the Air

The beautiful anemones which we saw in the south clearly had an effect me. I have often added flowers to my cards but when I was asked to make an anniversary card for a couple who have received my cards many times before, I needed to come up with something new. There was definitely something of the kalaniot - the anemones - on this card. And I liked it so much, I made it again, the second time around in different colours.
Flowers may pop up pretty regularly on my cards, but so do birds. This little bird has sort of become my "logo". You can see her - yes, she's definitely a female - here, here and here.
Spring is in the air!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Noah's Album

I absolutely love the fact that I am now making Bar and Bat Mitzvah books for the younger brothers and sisters of my original customers. Who knew, when I was asked to make that first book back in 2010, that they would become such a big part of my work?
Noah's Mum put in an order for her second son, who celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the beginning of this month. Noah loves his drums and she wanted the main picture on the front of the book to show him playing his drum kit. Unfortunately his kit faces a wall and it was too difficult to turn the whole thing around, so I had to take an educated guess as to how it is set up. Mum told me the brand and colour of the drums and apparently I got it quite right. Noah was amazed how accurate they were!
The colour scheme for the Bar Mitzvah invitation was orange and grey. I used the same colours on the book but gave him a blue t-shirt and red headphones as Mum told me that they are his favourite colours. I also popped a kippa on his head to match the one in the photo she sent me.
Noah's other interests include surfing, the English Premier League football team Arsenal, his computer and Wii video game console. He is always busy on his Samsung Tablet, either playing games or watching a movie with his earphones, and often sends texts on his mobile phone. Noah loves to watch YouTube videos about how to make stuff out of paper, serviettes etc. In fact, I was told, he'd probably love to come and work for me! Finally, this year his family are fostering a Golden Labrador for the Israel Guide Dog Centre for the Blind. Mum thought that maybe she should feature in the album too. Of course she should!
The inside pages also carried the colour scheme of orange and grey and I think I included all his hobbies. The lovely Golden Labrador got prime position!
When the book arrived in the mail, Noah's Mum wrote to tell me that she thought it looked amazing. I'm so pleased that their second order was so well received.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Iris Hill

A couple of weekends ago we made a quick visit to Shmurat Ha-Irusim or "Iris Hill", a small nature reserve located on the border between the cities of Ness Ziona and Rishon Letzion. I didn't even know of the existence of this little hill until someone posted about it on the wall of the Facebook group "Love Love Israel", but as soon as I read about it, I knew I had to go and see the irises. I even got Mister Handmade in Israel and the kids to come along too!
Iris Hill is home to the Iris artropurpurea or Coastal Iris. This rare sub-species of the Iris oncocyclus only grows in Israel, and only in Ness Ziona, Rishon Letzion and the city of Netanya. It  is considered an endangered plant and seems unable to thrive in other areas of the country. At this time of the year there are also huge bushes of Rotem (white broom) in bloom, but it was the large purple-brown irises that we were looking for and that we found, popping up in clumps among the dunes and grasses.
Iris Hill rises about 55 metres from sea level and accommodates the remains of one of the last gravel quarries along the Israeli coastal plane, of which there were once many. Now birds nest in the holes in the walls of the quarry, and on the eastern slope of the hill you can find several water troughs, probably left from the British Mandate period.
The site is small, about 50 acres in all, but it's a very pleasant place for a family picnic and flower walk. The irises, though now few and far between, since they bloom in mid-February, were wonderful to see. Just behind the reserve there is an abandoned citrus orchard, also currently in blossom. It smelt incredible!
In the summer Iris Hill is covered in thorny bushes. You will also find numerous insects and tortoises there. Many species of birds also inhabit the area.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Gadi's Papercut

My kids are pretty blasé about my work. I guess they're just used to seeing it. They get excited when it comes to their birthdays and wait with great anticipation to see what theme I have gone for on their card, but otherwise they're really not too bothered to look at my latest creations. Therefore, when I recently had a first attempt at papercutting, I was thrilled when my youngest son - the son who walks around listening to his Mp3, with his ipod in his other hand - was excited to see what I had made. So excited, in fact, that later the same day he piped up and asked if he could make a papercut too.
You bet he could!
Now, 11 year old boys don't do birds and flowers. They do battles and guns and skeletons and all things nasty. Well, mine does anyway! I suggested the skull and crossbones to start with and my boy was happy to go with it. The teeth proved too hard for him and I helped out, and I must admit that allowing him to use my scalpel, while I stood over him holding my breath and praying that we would both keep all our fingers, was more than scary. But he did a great job!
He drew... he cut... and then it was finished! His very first papercut.
I hope there will be more.
If anyone wishes to order a similar papercut to mine, then please be in touch using the "email me" button on the right.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Boys to Men

"Grandpa" was turning 82. He is a retired doctor, enjoys reading and loves history. My customer asked me to make a birthday card for him which would illustrate all those interests. The little stethoscope and clipboard speak for themselves. The small pile of books displays both his love of reading and history.
Max Rajnish was celebrating his 10th birthday. Well his name is really Max, but apparently his nickname is a joke he has with his friends and his Auntie went along with it. She wanted a card that showed him holding a mobile phone with FaceTime on the screen. It seems that he spends quite a lot of time using the video chat program on his iPhone. Guess he's no different to all the other 10 year olds... except my own... who thinks he's terribly badly done to because we won't buy him a smartphone. 
The "Dad" depicted on this card is a keen Tottenham Hotspur supporter and his son told me that he enjoys a good red wine. For his 80th birthday card I decided to show Dad wearing a Spurs shirt, with a glass of red in his hand. I tried to get you guessing which football team's shirt I was currently crafting out of paper, by posting the above photo on my Facebook page, but it seems that none of you are English football fans. Well, now you know.
Finally, this card was being sent to a fellow in Newcastle, a city in North East England. Newcastle Brown Ale, or Newkie Brown, as it is known locally, is an ale that was originally produced in the city, though I was amazed to read that it is now produced in North Yorkshire! My customer thought that her nephew would appreciate the local touch to his card.
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