Thursday, 26 November 2009

Glasses and a Guitar

A short while ago I received a call from a lady looking for a special wedding card for a close family member. She had seen the cards in my Etsy shop but wasn't sure if she wanted a card from there, or something custom-made. Chatting to her, I learnt that the groom-to-be played the guitar and that the bride wore green framed glasses. I realised that I could have some fun with the illustration of this couple, and so, after a photograph was e-mailed to me, I set to work creating the groom with his guitar and those glasses! Above, and below, you can see the end result. I do hope that the card was well received and that the customized design was appreciated. The Hebrew greeting wishes the couple 'Mazal Tov' or congratulations.
I have been very lucky to have my work included in several Etsy Treasuries lately. Christine of Beads of Paradise kindly included my Purple Cupcake Notebook in a lovely collection of purple coloured gifts. It is the first time that one of my notebooks has found its way into a treasury. My cards and pictures have always featured before. Thank you Christine. The extra exposure is always very much appreciated. My notebook can be seen below, right in the middle of the picture.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel

The eight-day holiday of Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is almost upon us and for those of you with family and friends abroad or in another city, I have some colourful new cards in my shop so that you can send them Hanukkah greetings from afar.
The cards show the dreidel, a four sided spinning top with a different Hebrew letter on each side that children play with on Hanukkah. Each side is imprinted with a Hebrew letter. These letters are an acronym for the Hebrew words נס גדול היה שם (Nes Gadol Haya Sham, "A great miracle happened there"), referring to the miracle of the oil that took place in the Temple in Jerusalem.
For those of us here in Israel, I also have cards with the fourth side of the dreidel inscribed with the letter פ (Pe), replacing the last word 'there' for 'here', referring to the fact that the miracle occurred in the Land of Israel.
Last week Yafit of Yafit's First Glass, and a fellow member of the Etsy Chai team, included these very same cards in a treasury called 'Team EtsyChai spins the Dreidel'. As always, it was lovely to see my work included in the collection, right in the centre of this picture. Thank you so much, Yafit.
Hanukkah starts at sundown on December 11th so order your cards now and let your relatives and friends know that you are thinking of them during this fun festival.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Mitspe Ramon

I mentioned in a recent post that my Dad is currently here for a visit. With flights to Tel Aviv being frequent and easy to arrange, he is able to come and see us quite often. Whilst here, it has become a nice habit that we all go away for a weekend together. This trip was no exception and we spent this last glorious weekend at Mitspe Ramon, a small town in the Negev desert of southern Israel.
Mitspe Ramon, from the arabic "Ruman" meaning "Romans", and probably linked to a track that Romans built there, sits on a northern ridge overlooking the spectacular Ramon Crater. This crater, or makhtesh, as it is called in Hebrew, is 28 miles long and five miles wide, and is shaped like an elongated heart. The crater and surrounding area forms Israel's largest national park, the Ramon Nature Reserve.With two full days in the area we were able to see a lot, though we of course did not attempt the trek recommended for the "physically fit" which can take up to three days! Our first full day saw us visiting the local Alpaca Farm, the only farm in the world where over 400 exotic alpacas and llamas are raised. The kids had a great time hand feeding the animals and enjoyed a ride on 'Dali' the llama, whilst we took in the stunning desert scenery. Afterwards we walked along a small part of the sculpture promenade which runs along the western edge of the crater and features many environmental and musical sculptures, created by artists from different countries. The views of Makhtesh Ramon were simply breathtaking and it was a wonderful spot to stop for a picnic. The ibex - mountain goats - thought so too and we watched two of them swiftly climb up from the road, paying no attention to us at all. Our second day in Mitspe Ramon started with both my boys learning to rappel off the cliffs of the Ramon Crater with the help of a very patient instructor. They had a 15 meter descent and Mummy was afraid to watch, never mind take part! They of course had a wonderful time, though my six year old did admit to being a little bit scared!
Next on the agenda was a quick visit to the Mitspe Ramon Visitors Centre where we learnt a little about the geography and geology of the place from large models and watched a film describing the formation of the Negev and its craters. Once again the view from the centre's rooftop observation deck was fabulous. After some guidance at the main desk, the real adventure then began.
A short drive southward into the crater allowed us to get up-close with the landscape and really begin to appreciate its beauty. We turned onto a gravel road, left the car and set off on the footpath toward Nahal Ardon, or the Ardon Canyon. The rock formations around us were beautiful, the colours varying from black and visible signs of volcanic activity, to the red and green sand layer formations of a dike. At the end of the trail we turned back and returned to the car. Although it seemed a chore to use the same path back, we enjoyed it all over again with the effect of changing light. Our final stop of the day, before the drive home, was at The Carpentry, or Ha-Minsarah, a sandstone hill with exposed symmetrical hexagonal prisms of sandstone laid in piles like wooden plates in a carpentry. We wandered along a special lifted wooden path that allows walkers to pace above the prisms without hurting them and enjoyed the view from the top.
It was time to head home and leave the magnificent panoramas of the Ramon Crater for the time being. My Dad is leaving us too this evening, yet after the extraordinary few days we had together, we all hope to return to Mitspe Ramon again one day soon.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Birthdays and Bar Mitzvahs

Whilst we were celebrating my son's ninth birthday, someone else was celebrating her 40th. I was asked to make a special birthday card that was very girly and full of sparkle! I am not such a sparkly person myself, but I really went with the theme and enjoyed putting together the flowers, clothes, bows and other feminine items. I hope that the card was well received.Apparently the sister of this Bar Mitzvah boy received a card made by me a couple of years ago when she had her Bat Mitzvah, and the family still remember it. This time, for her brother, I was asked to make something "sophisticated, but also artistic and creative". I was also asked to put his name on the card in Hebrew. The family are religious so I added a Tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl worn in the synagogue on Shabbat and holidays, and while reciting morning prayers, along with a Sefer Torah (Torah scroll) and kippa (skullcap). I hope that this card will be appreciated as much as the Bat Mitzvah one seems to have been.
Yesterday I was delighted to receive a convo from Rutik letting me know that she had included one of my Treasure Boxes in an etsy Treasury. I was very pleased to see it there, on the second row, left-hand side. I haven't seen my work in a Treasury for a little while now, so was thrilled to see it placed alongside some other lovely items. Thanks for including me, Ruth.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Nine

Tonight there are going to be lots of extra people sleeping in my house. Tonight my eldest son is having a sleepover to celebrate his birthday, and tomorrow, when he wakes up, he will be nine years old! He has invited eight friends to join us this evening, and Grandpa arrived on the plane from England last night, so we will have a full house, to say the least!
Birthdays of course means presents, cake, and a special card made by Mum. I have mentioned before my sons love of football. Last years birthday card showed him wearing half an Arsenal shirt and half a Hull City shirt. These English football teams are still his favourites, so this time I have shown him waving a football scarf favouring both teams. He goes to football coaching twice a week and occasionally receives tickets to go and see the Israeli team, Maccabi Tel Aviv. They have become firm favourites as well and so his card shows him wearing a Maccabi t-shirt. Henry the hamster has popped in too, sitting in his favourite position on top of my son's head, and 'Rabbity', who is also be celebrating his ninth birthday, makes an appearance in the top left-hand corner! My son has requested a football pitch cake for the last few years. This year he decided on something a little different, just for a change. According to his younger brother, he only wanted this alien cake because of all the sweets, but that is fine! On your birthday (nearly) everything is okay.
Happy Birthday to my special 9 year old. May we all get just a little bit of sleep tonight...

Monday, 2 November 2009

Positive feedback

Some people might think that I am slightly crazy choosing to make handmade cards all hours of the day, yet I love the little business that I have created for myself and occasionally I receive feedback that tells me that others appreciate what I do too. This morning I received an e-mail from a friend that made me feel like the most wonderful artist in the world! I made the card below, showing a little gymnast, for my friend to give to her daughter on her ninth birthday and it seems that it was a great success. With her permission, I am posting her e-mail below for all to see:
"T loved the card! She dug out all the cards you gave her over the past few years and had them lined up on the sideboard. A number of people commented how good they look. And T says she wants to do your job when she grows up :) It's not the first time she's said that!
Anyway, thanks again."I have been re-stocking at the local Judaica store too. The manager there called and asked me for various designs that they were running low on, including some more wedding cards, Barmitzvahs, and a few cards for the upcoming Festival of Lights, Chanukah.This little bear, below, has already travelled all the way to America. It is unusual for me to sit and spend some time on a card that I intend to use myself. I have mentioned before that I always pay great care and attention to custom orders and can spend a lot of time researching particular subject matters and hobbies, but when I need a card to send to a family member or friend, it usually comes out of my stock! However, on this occasion I did spend a little time making this cute teddy bear card for the young daughter of a good friend of mine. It was a sweet and simple design to create and I envisage more bears appearing in the future.
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