Tuesday, 27 June 2017

19th Anniversary

Mister Handmade in Israel and I recently celebrated our 19th wedding anniversary. There wasn't a "Romantic Ride" planned this year. In fact, we weren't even in the same country on the day! As you know from my recent post, not long ago I went to visit my Dad in the UK and it worked out that I was away for our anniversary. Not to worry. I left this papercut card and a bag full of chocolate in the care of my eldest son, so Mister Handmade in Israel still received some treats on the day.
In return, I arrived home the day after our anniversary and was greeted at the airport by Mister Handmade in Israel holding this colourful balloon. The Hebrew greeting says יום נישואין שמח, or Happy Anniversary. The following day some beautiful roses arrived, along with a very large tin of delicious Max Brenner chocolates, and the day after that we ate in our favourite Italian restaurant in Jerusalem, Al Dente.
Being away for our anniversary wasn't so bad after all!
While we're on the subject of flowers, I made these cards for a customer last month. The flower vase is one of my older designs but still a favourite!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Hull 2017 - Part I

The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noticed that I took a short break from blogging recently. At the end of May I went to the UK to stay with my Dad for a couple of weeks. This was a big deal for me. It was the first time that I have travelled on my own since the kids were born. My eldest is coming up to 17 and is always busy with his own stuff. His younger brother still hangs around at home a lot more but, with the freezer packed full of homemade meals and plenty of invitations to friends, I knew they could definitely cope without me, even if it meant an little more work for Mister Handmade in Israel.
Off to the UK I went!
Kingston upon Hull, or  Hull, as it is more commonly known, is a city in the East Riding of Yorkshire. I was born there 47 years ago (yes, I recently celebrated a birthday!) and my Dad still lives there. When we visit the UK as a family we usually end up travelling around quite a bit. Mister Handmade in Israel's family live in London, so we have to spread ourselves thin, running between London and Hull. Hull is UK City of Culture this year and so I decided that I was going to spend my whole trip there on this occasion. It was a good decision.
The sun shone for quite a few days of my visit. Now, I will be the first to agree that the north of England in the rain can be a bit miserable, but in the sunshine my hometown looked wonderful! Dad was keen to show me the city centre and the pier. We saw the excellent Travel Photographer of the Year exhibition, and passed by The Deep (I have visited it several times previously). He pointed out the recently renovated Zebedee's Yard, the site of the old Trinity House Navigation School, and we spotted the Spurn Lightship in the Hull Marina. 
Another day we travelled to Lincoln and walked around its pretty medieval town. Lincoln was once home to one of the five most important Jewish communities in England, before the Jews were expelled en masse in 1290. We stopped to look at the mid-twelfth century Jews' Court on Steep Hill and went into the beautiful cathedral too, though we didn't spot the cheeky little Lincoln Imp there but on another building's wall.
Of course we ate fish and chips (twice!) and I fitted in some clothes shopping too. My Dad wins the award for the world's most patient dad since he sat in his car reading his newspaper for three hours whilst I chose clothes in the Kingswood Retail Park.
Then it was back to Hull. There was more to see. Holy Trinity Church was until recently the largest parish church in England by floor area. In May of this year it became Hull Minster. Renovations are currently taking place on the building and it is already looking rather wonderful.
We spotted the smallest window in England in The George Hotel on Land of Green Ginger, a narrow street in the old town area of Hull. Can you see the window in the photo above? The new memorial for lost fishermen in Hull, below, a 9 ft tall steel sculpture depicting 13 trawlermen standing in an overlapping line, was created by local artist Peter Naylor. Around 6000 fishermen from Hull are believed to have died at sea. The city has been a major British fishing port for centuries.
I couldn't visit Hull without popping down to the Humber Bridge. I watched the bridge, a 2,220-metre (7,280 ft) single-span suspension bridge, being built as a child. It opened to traffic on 24 June 1981 and, when it was opened, it was the longest of its type in the world. The Humber Bridge Country Park, which we accessed from the bridge car park, has really been developed since I was last there. Set amongst woods, meadows, ponds and cliffs (the area was once quarried for chalk, and the old quarry cliff terraces now form the edges of the reserve), it was a lovely place to visit to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and to enjoy a walk amongst the trees.
Then it was time to get ready for the reason I had travelled to Hull in the first place. Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott were performing their Beauty In The East show at Hull KR's Lightstream Stadium in Craven Park. Mister Handmade in Israel had surprised me with a ticket last Chanukah, and my best friend had come up from London for a few days to join me. We were very excited...

Monday, 19 June 2017

The White Cloth Napkin

I was leaving the exhibition On the Edge - Israeli Paper, when I came across this sweet display of "bete'avon" ("bon appétit") cloth napkins made by Had-Ar. Had-Ar was a small family business set up in the early 1940s by Stenia Veroslavsky, a remarkable woman who had emigrated from Poland at a young age, seeking new business ventures in Palestine.
Stenia and her husband, Moshe, began by producing handkerchiefs and napkins, which were sold by peddlers who made the rounds on the streets of Tel Aviv. It was a time when people carried stiffly-ironed handkerchiefs in their pockets and cloth napkins were always on the table. Schoolchildren used them for their 10 a.m. snack. According to the rules of etiquette at the time, they were told to spread a cloth napkin on their desk before eating their sandwiches and apples. Stenia and Moshe, who managed the technical aspects of production, and their children, took part in cutting, stamping and packing the items on the family's kitchen table. The first childhood memory of Ilan Lavi (Veroslavsky), who was born in 1943, is piles upon piles of coloured handkerchiefs in his parents' living room in Givatayim. The job of Ilan and his sister Varda, who was four years older, was to pack the cloth handkerchiefs into bundles of 12.
Over time the business grew, moved out of the house, and was set up in a rented hut in Givatayim. A decade later it moved to a building in Ramat Gan. In 1960, a factory outlet store was opened on the Jaffa-Tel Aviv Road and Varda and Ilan joined the family business. The production methods developed, and the factory commissioned the illustrations that decorated the tablecloths and napkins from artists. Some of the artists were relatives, among them Stenia's son-in-law, the graphic artist, Jack Jaget. Cloth calendars, printed tembel hats, aprons, special mats for the stove and refrigerator, covers for challot and tablecloths were all added to the inventory.
The factory employees - peaking at about 20 workers, most of them women - became part of the family. Stenia ran both the factory and family with an iron fist - Moshe passed away in 1960 - but she was known to be generous and created a fun atmosphere.
Had-Ar’s "bete'avon" napkins are an interesting bridge between Israeli and European culture. Whilst there is something universal about them - napkins and handkerchiefs are very common items, and the ones made by the family were even sold at Macy’s department store - there is also something pioneering and Israeli in the choice of subjects and 
illustrations. The naive illustrations embodied the way in which Israeli society wanted to see itself in those days; families making the blessing over the Friday night candles, children leaving on a hike, riding their bicycles and skipping rope in the park, the building of the country and the Jewish Holidays. The napkins were screen printed in four colours. The technology, which was limited at the time, did not allow the use of a large number of colours, or complex and irregular shapes.
Had-Ar's items were sold throughout the country for decades, and till today can be found in numerous homes. Inevitably, the factory closed down in 2007, when it could no longer compete with cheap imports from India and China. Stenia Veroslavsky died in 2013 at the age of 97, leaving behind crates full of textile products she had produced over 65 years. Ilan's daughter-in-law was one of the curators of this exhibition.
As an interesting aside, the history of napkins is fascinating. In ancient Rome, diners used two napkins: One was fastened around the neck; the second was meant for wiping one’s hands and wrapping leftovers, which were brought home by the slaves.
During medieval times, hosts didn’t provide napkins for the guests, who usually wiped their hands on the tablecloth. Licking greasy fingers or wiping your hands on your clothes, on the other hand, were considered a blatant violation of good 
manners.
Napkins used during and following the classical era were huge, almost as big as present day bath towels, and were meant to protect the diners from stains and grease.
In the absence of a fork, and at a time when people ate only with a knife, people were 
constantly getting their clothes dirty. Only when the fork came into the world did napkins become smaller, being placed discreetly on the diners' laps or on the table in front of them.
The birth of the fork also signalled the beginning of the paradox of napkins in modern Western culture; Napkins are meant to remain almost clean (a napkin is used to gently dab one’s mouth at the end of the meal, leading to the modern preoccupation with decorating and folding them), an almost unreasonable demand in light of the original purpose.

* This post has been shared on Seasons, Amaze Me Monday, Inspiration Monday, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Monday Morning Blog ClubMake it Pretty Monday and Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Something birthday-ish

Sometimes my customers have a long list of things they want me to include on a card, and sometimes they don't. These cards were the result of simple requests for "something birthday-ish". The top cards were made for men. The card for Polly, below, was customised with her age on the card (sorry for giving away any secrets, Polly!) and I added flowers to make it more feminine.
Polly's husband kindly wrote to say "Your card was beautiful! Thanks".
These cards are all my smaller sized cards, the ones I used to make and sell in boutique shops before I came upon the idea of a large custom-made card. They are still fun to create, and occasionally I just feel like putting together one of my original designs. These flower designs, below, are oldies but goodies!
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