Sunday, 22 July 2018

Keshet

I have a young fan called Keshet. I recently did some pieces for her mum and Keshet was apparently fascinated by what I do and went to bed with a million questions about my work and how I know how to make such lovely things. She asked if I could make a card for her birthday at the end of June. She wanted a card with lots of rainbows, doughnuts and treats on it. How could I resist a request like that?
Mum sent me some recent pictures of her soon-to-be 8 year old. One showed her with her favourite emoji face headband, and the other was of a much-loved rainbow T-shirt (the name Keshet means "rainbow" in Hebrew). Mum also added that Keshet is currently planning a lilac bedroom, so could I include some lilac on the card too?
I have shown Keshet wearing her much loved headband and with a doughnut in each hand. She loves the ones with chocolate icing and hundreds and thousands (sprinkles) on them, and also those with chocolate chips. She's 8 years old. She adores treats - marshmallows, sweets and sour strips - all the things that parents don't like to give their kids! I cut out some tiny pink and white marshmallows and jelly beans, some more doughnuts with hundreds and thousands on them and added another rainbow too. A big number 8 marks her age.
Mum sent me these fabulous photos of the birthday girl on her big day and was happy for me to share them here. "If a picture says it all... she loved the card!" mum wrote. 
Sunday Snap

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

"When I'm Fifty-Four"

Mister Handmade in Israel recently turned 54, not 64, but what's a bit of poetic license when you need it? His birthday was right in the middle of the World Cup, and we're a family of football addicts anyway, so his birthday card this year simply had to be football themed.
My design was a simple one. I cut out a large football from the centre of the card and then followed with the tiny letters of his birthday greeting in a circle around it. I cut the card out of white stock and I added a red paper inlay. The flag of England is red and white, with a centred St. George's Cross on a white background. Mister Handmade in Israel's beloved Arsenal play in red. Red was the obvious choice.
There was a cake as well, though it wasn't red and white. More like multicoloured.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Emmy's Album

Some pieces are just extra fun to work on because the customer is so enthusiastic. Their enthusiasm becomes infectious. This album, which I created for Emmy's Bat Mitzvah last month, was one such piece. Emmy's mum was full of ideas for the cover of her daughter's album and it was great fun discussing it with her.
Emmy loves to paint and draw, and she especially likes creating mandalas, one of which was on her Bat Mitzvah invitation. She loves her phone, Snapchat, WhatsApp and Instagram. She likes going to the mall and shopping, she is into music, and she also studies and always has her desk in order. Emmy wanted me to include the family's toy poodle, Aish, on the cover as well. Finally, she was keen for me to show her wearing her favourite jean shorts and a white T-shirt, and her much loved white adidas sneakers with black stripes.
I have shown Emmy sitting down with Aish on her knees. She is wearing the requisite white T-shirt, jean shorts and her adidas shoes. In her hand she is holding a picture of a mandala (this was the actual mandala on Emmy's Bat Mitzvah invitation). Next to her are some headphones and some music notes. Her phone is in front of her (the screensaver is a picture of Emmy!), along with some art materials. Emmy’s name is in English at the top and בת המצווה של אמונה (Emunah's Bat Mitzvah) is below.
Emmy's album opens the Hebrew way, from right to left. The lettering is in silver and the background box black, to match the colour scheme of her Bat Mitzvah celebration. There are also black and silver flowers in two corners of the cover.
I decorated five pages inside the album. Each page has a silver flower on it, then, clockwise from the left, I showed Emmy with her friends, Emmy's phone along with the logos of all of her favourite apps, some paints, brushes, pencils and paper to illustrate her love of painting and drawing, and then a page with headphones and music notes on it. On the opening page of the album, above, I showed Emmy with her baby brother. According to her mum, "She loooooves her baby brother and is like a mom to him" so I made to sure to add the duo on the first page. Mum in fact loves this little paper illustration so much that she has saved it on her phone!
Emmy and her mum were clearly thrilled with the album I created for her Bat Mitzvah. Mum left me a wonderful review on my Facebook business page:
"The Bat Mitzvah sign in book that Lisa made for my daughter absolutely blew us away!!! She captured my daughter perfectly down to her dog, baby brother and adidas shoes!!! Thank you so much!!! Was an excellent addition to our simcha!!!"
Sunday Snap

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Koolulam at the Tower of David

Photo credit: Tali Raz

The idea of Koolulam is simply to stop everything for a few hours and just sing - together. Koolulam is a social-musical initiative aimed at bringing together people from all corners of Israel's diverse, multi-cultural society. In under an hour, participants learn a three-part arrangement of a Hebrew or English song, and then perform it for a video to be shared on social media.
Back in June I had the opportunity to join in a singalong of Bob Marley's "One Love" at Jerusalem’s Tower of David. It was an amazing experience, notwithstanding that we entered the ancient citadel at five minutes to midnight and didn't return home till around 4.30am!
Koolulam's popularity has soared since it kicked off in Tel Aviv in April 2017, with Israelis jumping at the opportunity to come together  and sing with thousands of strangers. Tickets sell out in minutes and views of the videos reach into the hundreds of thousands. When the tickets became available for the Koolulam event at Migdal David (the Tower of David), I grabbed them with both hands!
Photo credit: Tali Raz
Koolulam was founded by Ben Yefet, Michal Shahaf Shneiderman and Or Taicher. Taicher, a 33-year-old director, screenwriter and social activist, saw a video of worshippers packed into the plaza in front of the Western Wall, praying in unison and fervour on Yom Kippur. It sparked off the idea behind Koolulam: That music and creativity could be used to unite Israelis of all backgrounds, regardless of their political views or affiliations, on a mass scale.
Shneiderman takes credit for the project's catchy name. It’s a play on the English word "cool," the Hebrew word "kulam" (everyone), the Hebrew word "kol" (voice), and "kululu," the ululation sound of joy some Israelis of North African and Middle Eastern descent make at happy occasions like bar mitzvahs and weddings.
Photo credit: Tali Raz

Yefet, a talented music educator and conductor, is the musical engine behind Koolulam. He creates the arrangements for the songs, taught "One Love" to us at Migdal David in about 45 minutes, and then conducted the recording. He was fun, brimming with enthusiasm and bursting with energy. By the end, everyone was jumping up and down and smiling at the people all around them.
"One Love" was recorded on the night of Eid al-Fitr, a holiday marking the end of Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting and introspection. The recording coincided with the Jerusalem visit of Kyai Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf, Secretary General of Indonesia-based Nahdlatul Ulama, the world’s largest Muslim organisation with more than 60 million members. Staquf had seen a Koolulam video and contacted the organisation to say he was coming to Israel and wanted to be part of an interfaith social music event.
We entered the citadel of Migdal David shortly before midnight and were handed lyric sheets and divided into soprano, alto and baritone groups, before spending the next 45 minutes learning our parts.
Now this is probably the time for me to admit that I really can't sing! I loved the idea of participating in a Koolulam performance but was worried about my voice. I was reassured that the whole thing isn't really about the music or quality of the singing. With that many people, you can’t clearly hear one voice. Phew!
Yefet conducted five takes of "One Love", combining 1,000 voices, including my own rather off-key one. We sang in three languages - Arabic, Hebrew and English - along with Jewish, Muslim and Christian groups that took part in the event. The atmosphere was electric!
I must admit that I was, ahem, rather tired the following morning, when I had to be at a school end-of-year ceremony for my youngest son at 10am, but it was so worth it. What could be more exciting than a singalong in such a historic location, in a city where so many people fight for being there, in the middle of the night?
"One Love", Jerusalem, June 2018. A night to remember!
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