Sunday, 29 May 2011

A Bat Mitzvah and a Birthday

The recent winner of my blog giveaway very sweetly came back to me with a customised card order. She wanted a Bat Mitzvah card for her Rabbi's daughter. The celebration took place this last weekend so I am now able to show you the card that I sent over to the USA.
The Bat Mitzvah girl is called Talia. My customer wanted some Hebrew on the card, so I hand cut the Hebrew letters of her name. Talia is interested in reading, skiing and science so I decorated the card with a couple of books, skis and some bottles and a bunsen burner, as well as a Star of David to include a Jewish element in the overall design.
The only question I had for my customer was whether the Bat Mitzvah girl is a "flowery pink girl" or not. I have had requests for lots of pink on a Bat Mitzvah card and, as in this case, for the opposite! Blue and purple were the requested colours this time and I was easily able to incorporate them into my design, particularly adding some lovely lilac and blue potions into the glass bottles!
The card below has a wonderful tale to go with it! As I mentioned in a relatively recent blog post, my Dad was staying with us not so long ago during the Passover holiday. The day before he was due to fly back to England one of my regular customers called. She needed a card quite quickly because she was looking for someone who could take it to the UK for her, to speed up delivery! This particular customer prefers to send my large, customised cards, which I obviously did not have ready for her there and then but, because she is familiar with my work, she popped round to my house, wrote the blank card and I created the design the following morning, just in time for my Dad to pop it into his suitcase and take it with him that afternoon! Talk about doing things in a topsy turvy way! Everyone was happy though. My customer got her card. I fulfilled the order and Grandma Judi received her birthday card in time. I am not sure what Dad got out of it - except for being a very willing delivery boy!
I recently made this yummy Quinoa Salad and it looked so good that I decided it was worth sharing here. The interesting thing about quinoa is that it is in fact kosher for Passover, even though one would assume it is in the same food group as wheat, barley, rye, oats and other grains which have leavened (risen) or fermented. Passover is over for this year though and I made this salad for a simple weekend lunch, though frankly I made so much of it that it lasted until midweek! I added toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, rather than the walnuts, simply because that is what I had in the house and the end result was a great main dish salad, perfect for a summer lunch in the garden.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Hip hop and more

This blue-eyed young lady is into hip hop and her Grandma asked me to create a card along that theme. It's been a long time since I was 9 years old and I'm pretty sure that hip hop didn't even exist then, but I have a rough idea what it is all about and know that there is some relationship with graffiti too. I hope that Shiri (the young lady's name, which I have written in Hebrew on the card) liked seeing herself breakdancing, microphone in hand, and that it was 'cool' enough for her liking.
One of my nephew's back in the UK recently celebrated his 9th birthday too. I know that the present is far more important than the card when you are 9 years old but also know that his mum appreciates my efforts anyway! I did pop a nice big package in to the post along with it this card, which has my nephew's name on it and a little portrait of the red-headed young man. Happy Birthday Calum! We hope you had a brilliant day.
Moving along in age just a little, this guy was not, as you can see, celebrating his 9th birthday but his wife asked me for a special card anyway. Jonny is a big West Ham United supporter, but fortunately celebrated his birthday before his team was relegated from the English Premier League. I was asked to show him wearing his favourite team's strip, playing a bit of football but getting a little red in the face and worn out from it all!
Finally, for now, this card was a special request for a Dad in the US. 'Dad' seems like a busy guy and there was a lot to squeeze onto this card. He is apparently very into biking, is a physicist, very intellectual and likes books and science. He has 6 grandchildren (though I suggested fitting in portraits of only the boys of the family sending the card) and lives near Washington D.C. I think I got it all in!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Chihuly at Litvak

It isn't often that I get to see a really great exhibition. Living far away from the grandparents means that any day out almost always involves the whole family and, since the whole family comprises three males and me, family days out usually mean picnics, football games, adventure activities, hiking... you get the picture?
On Tuesday it was different though. On Tuesday it was my birthday and I got to choose!
We dropped the boys off at school and I had already worked out that hubbie and I had just enough time to hop on the train to Tel Aviv to see the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Litvak Gallery, drink a cup of coffee and be back at school in time to pick youngest son up! Phew! A bit of a rush maybe, but so worth it.
Through the end of July the Litvak Gallery is exhibiting the works of the famous glass artist Dale Chihuly. The gallery has made it its mission to promote glass art in Israel. Nearly 100 works from Chihuly’s various series are presented there including his Seaforms, Persians, Macchia, Jerusalem Cylinders, Venetians, Ikebana and Baskets, as well as drawings. Ten large installations have been created specifically for the gallery.
Chihuly’s has a longstanding relationship with Israel. He spent a period of his life on a kibbutz and has stated that his time on the kibbutz in 1962 is what made him comprehend the values of hard work and even changed the course of his life. In 1999 a large-scale exhibition showcasing his work opened at the Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem to celebrate the millennium and 3000 years of Jerusalem. The exhibition enjoyed incredible success and now, a decade later, the name Chihuly continues to draw in the crowds.
The exhibition is not large - a little over an hour was sufficient for us to really take it all in - but what it lacked for in size, it truly made up for in quality. Chihuly's colorful works come alive there. My own personal favourites were the Tiger Marlins group (above) which seemed to dance in the niche they were created for and also the organic shapes, colour and transparency of the Baskets, inspired by traditional Native American baskets.
Much has been written about Chihuly’s great contribution to the development of glass as a medium for sculpture and installation but in the end it was the power and sheer glory of his work that entranced me.
Chihuly at Litvak. Not a bad way to spend a birthday.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Another language

An absolutely delightful new customer recently discovered my cards on facebook and consequently asked me to make a couple of customised cards for her. The first card, above and below, was a simple request for a pink, girly card for a new baby. My customer sent me a photograph of the baby girl's family for inspiration and I was left to come up with my own ideas. The very best way to work!
I prepared a card with a picture of the swaddled new baby and  'portraits' of her older brother and sister on it. (I loved her sister's pigtails high up on the top of her head!). Alongside the children I illustrated a teddy bear, bottle of milk, baby onesie and a few butterflies and flowers to add to the girlish look.
My customer's next request was a birthday card for her daughter, who was going to be ten. Apparently she is crazy about gymnastics and I was asked if it was possible for me to create a figure standing on her hands, something that this particular young lady apparently does all the time! My answer? Of course it was! Once again I had a photo to work from so I was even able to show the birthday girl in the clothes she had been photographed doing her handstand in!
Knowing that my new customer is a native Spanish speaker, I asked her whether she wanted the greeting on the front of the card to be in Hebrew, like the new baby card, or in Spanish this time. A Spanish greeting was sent to me and I can now add that language to the list of different languages I have put on my cards over the years.
My new customer seemed very happy when she saw the cards and kindly sent me the following message a few days later:
"Thanks a lot Lisa!!!!!! The cards were a complete success!!!!!! Your work is VERY beautiful!!".
How nice was that?

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Some of you may well remember this post from last year, when I was given the opportunity to participate in a fantastic paper cutting workshop held by Zipora Neeman. Well, Zipora was back in Modi'in again for another Limmud conference and this year she expected me to be there and decided to take the class to the next level since I had already completed stage one!
Once again we started off with a basic template on which we could base our designs but this year, rather then cutting out half of a symmetrical design, we were to work within the oval frame that Zipora had drawn and come up with an asymmetrical design of our own. The Hebrew letters spelling out the word שלום or Shalom, meaning Peace were already sketched inside the frame.
Zipora advised us to keep the design simple and showed us how the flowers, branches and bird - or whatever we chose to illustrate - had to link up at some point. While other participants in the workshop created some very intricate designs, I kept mine relatively simple and bold so that I could easily cope with the cutting. The end result was pleasing, if a little rough around the edges, mainly because the class was coming to an end and I needed to finish off! However, from a distance it looks great and once again I was reminded how simple yet effective paper cutting can be. I MUST create some more and soon!
Tonight is the start of Yom Hazikaron, Israel's Memorial Day which, at nightfall tomorrow evening, is followed by Yom Ha'atzmaut, Independence Day.  Though the switch from a day of such sadness to a day of festivities is hard, its roots come from the Jewish tradition recognizing joy in times of sadness and sadness in times of joy. Additionally, Israelis owe their independence - the very existence of the state - to the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for it.
This blue and white papercut, in similar colours to those of the Israeli flag, pronounces 'Shalom' to us all. On that note, I would like to wish my fellow Israelis and Jews around the world a very happy and peaceful Independence Day. Enjoy the celebrations!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

A Port, a Picnic and Plants on Passover

So, I mentioned in my last post a trip to the beautiful port of Jaffa. We've been there many times before of course but it is such a wonderful place to explore that none of us seem to tire of it. The shuk was busy and its wares quite different to what we had seen in Jerusalem. I got a new skirt and youngest son had his portrait drawn (it's not such a great likeness, but let's not disappoint him and tell him that!).
A matza picnic was enjoyed by all in the delightful old city gardens and soon it was time to head off for our pre-booked tour of the Coca Cola factory in nearby Bnei Brak, which actually turned out to be a lot of fun for the adults and children alike. We didn't really spend much time viewing the factory but there were lots of fun things to see and do as we moved from room to room filled with lights and sounds and interactive games. And we even learnt a fact or two about Coca Cola. But no recipe.
Another day of the holiday saw us visiting Ra'anana where what was billed as "The First Ever Flower and Garden Show in Israel" was taking place. As my Mum was a talented florist, garden shows are in our blood and my Dad and I were keen to go and see what the Israelis had to offer. The kids were less keen but, as it turned out, we all enjoyed what we saw in our own way. The flower show and garden designs were small but really quite spectacular (above) and hubbie and I are now keen to tackle our, ahem, somewhat overgrown front garden.
Once again Israel showed us just how much she has to offer! I was glad of a rest when the week was done and frankly I do not want to eat any more pieces of matza or a fried fish ball for a while, but boy, did we have a good time! The kids had plenty to tell their friends about when the week was up and it was time to go back to school.