Thursday, 30 June 2011

To Shlomit With Love

My boys rushed off to school today full of excitement for their last day! Yes, their two month summer break begins tomorrow and my two month attempt to juggle card and album orders with summer holiday entertainment starts too. Fun, fun, fun! Actually, I enjoy the boys being home (when they are not at each other tooth and nail!) and I especially enjoy not having to get up at 6:30am each morning to get them out of bed and ready for school.
We have lots planned after they have finished their upcoming three weeks at summer camp and I look forward to displaying the photos here. In the meantime, I am happy to show you the album I made for our wonderful Kitah Bet (Year 2) teacher on behalf of my youngest son's class and the Parents' Committee.
There was very little budget to work with but I managed to find a lovely deep purple ring binder in a local store. I cut out a paper version of our teacher with her dark curly hair, reading to some of her students. As the school that both my boys go to is a school where secular and religious students are educated together, I have illustrated one boy, to the right of the teacher, wearing a kippa (skullcap) to fulfill the customary requirement that his head be covered at all times, whilst his friend with the brown curly hair is bareheaded. Two girls are also sitting with the teacher and they all look like they are enjoying whatever she is reading to them.
The gold lettering on the cover says 'To Shlomit with love from the children of Kitah Bet Shaked. 2009-2011.' I finished it all off with a bright orange spotted ribbon, which went beautifully with the purple background.
Another parent designed this gorgeous page (below) for each student in the class to fill in. We asked them to write down what they had learnt from their teacher over the two years she has taught them, what they wished for her over the summer and the year ahead and, finally, there was a box for each child to draw a picture of their experiences in the classroom. I photographed my son's page.
Shlomit has been a truly amazing teacher to my son for two years and we will really miss her. She seemed delighted with the album when I presented it to her and I heard that she took it into school the next day to show it to the other teachers in the staff room. Several of them came to compliment me on my work later that day. Shlomit herself sent me an e-mail telling me that she absolutely loves her album. It couldn't have been made for a better teacher.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Very Sleepy Sloth

My husband celebrated his birthday yesterday and you all know how old he is because it says on his card! Remember when we first met our partners and we used to send them romantic, lovey-dovey cards that we spent hours choosing? Well, the cards that I have made for my husband seem to have become rather cheeky over time and less and less romantic, but he seems to appreciate them all the same.
I knew that this year's card was going to be a hit when my kids spotted me adjusting the colour of this photograph in Photoshop and laughed until there were tears in their eyes! You see my husband likes to sleep. Always on the same sofa and usually with some reading material nearby that he has been unable to finish because he can no longer keep his eyes open.
We have this exact sofa and Pissarro print in our lounge. I photographed the sofa's upholstery, downloaded the photo and printed out the pattern to produce its paper equivalent. Same with the cushions. Hubby is a little shy and doesn't want to appear on this blog but you can see in the photograph below how I matched the sofa and cushion fabrics and, ahem, his incredible fashion sense too!
Happy Birthday to my dear "Sleepy Sloth" hubby. I am pleased that you liked your card and took it the way that it was meant. I would offer you some more of the rather over the top birthday cake that I made for you but the kids finished it all off this afternoon...

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

An interview with...

Imelda of Sunset Shutterbug, a fellow member of the Etsy Greetings Team, recently e-mailed the team to ask if anyone would be up to making a customised card for her Dad. She wanted a Father's Day card which illustrated his love of bingo and also that he speaks Spanish. It was the perfect job for me but sadly I could not make the card for her as I could not rely on the post getting to the US in time.
However, Imelda seems to have taken a liking to my art and wrote to ask if I would be interested in doing a little interview piece for her blog. She likes to feature some other Etsy folk there and thought that my cards would make a great item. I happily agreed and was pleased to answer the questions she mailed through to me. The interview appeared on her blog at the beginning of this month and some lovely comments were posted about me, my cards and about how much I dislike grapefruit! Please pop by and read more about me here.
The Etsy Greetings Team is going to be running a giveaway in July. Customers will be able to enter the giveaway by either signing up to the Etsy Greetings mailing list or by making purchases from participating stores. The winner will receive all of the cards contributed by the participating stores.
Since the card I created for this event is now in my shop - and displayed on Imelda's blog - I thought I'd show it to you here as well. Created using layers of colourful card, this pretty card is perfect for an anniversary, wedding, birthday or just to tell someone how much you care. It comes with a matching blue envelope and is packaged in a clear plastic sleeve for protection.
Why not take a look at it now and beat the rush before the giveaway begins? ;)

Friday, 17 June 2011

It really looks like him!

Yonatan, above, is Israeli born but currently lives in India. His Mum asked me to make a card that essentially shows that he is a great football player but also that that he has lots of school friends at his International school from all around the world. I put Yonatan in the centre of the card with friends from Japan, Korea, India and Europe in the background. Yonatan always wears a blue cap and Mum asked me to show him wearing that too. The choice of a red shirt was mine but when the card arrived at its destination I was told that, other than his white uniform t-shirt, he always wears red shirts. It seems that I was spot on and, on top of that, his Mum declared that "it really looks like him" too!
I have made cards for the young man above for a number of years. In the past I have illustrated him playing tennis and listening to music, but this year first his Grandma asked me to make a Manchester United card, then his Mum called and asked for the same thing! When I told her that Grandma had already beaten her to it, the next request was for a picture of her son as the pool boy, his current summer job. Once again his Mum declared that my simple portrait really looks like the birthday boy, whom I showed standing by the side of the pool, wearing a cheeky t-shirt, net in hand, ready to clean up!
Lastly, this 18th birthday card was made for a young woman who is going to study at a Seminary (a type of school that offers education in Jewish studies) in Jerusalem. She also hopes to learn to drive soon. I already know that her Mum likes birthday cakes on the cards that she orders so, along with the pink iced cake, I added a little Jerusalem scene, with a sign pointing out our capital city. The blue and white learner driver sign used here in Israel, top right,  has the Hebrew letter ל or Lammed on it, which stands for Lomed, or Learner.

Monday, 13 June 2011

I Love You... Arsenal

The hubbie and I celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary last week and of course any celebration in our home requires a handmade card. I wanted to have another go at traditional papercutting and to try and put into action the skills I had learnt at the workshop back in April. My husband is a big Arsenal fan and I decided to put his favourite team's badge on the card. Of course that meant that my card ended up being a somewhat less than traditional anniversary card and not such a romantic one, but he was impressed with it all the same!
I created the design on the computer, incorporating the Arsenal badge and, to make the card a little more lovey-dovey, a little heart and the words 'I Love You', making sure that I linked all the elements in some way. I printed it out and traced the design onto white stock. Our teacher at the workshop had advised us to put an 'x' on all the parts that need to be cut out and it certainly stopped any major disasters. Let me tell you, working with one piece like this is a lot more nerve-racking than the usual way I work! One slip of the knife and your whole design is ruined.
Hubbie's team play in red shirts and, as a final measure, I decided to place the papercut onto red stock, which really made it pop. He was delighted when he opened the card and was even a little bit impressed at my beginners skills. But what really made him happy? That I was declaring my love for his favourite football team too! Whoops! Not really what I had planned....

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Shabbat Shalom - A Peaceful Sabbath

It's been a busy few days. The kids have been home from school and we have been celebrating the holiday of Shavuot, or the Festival of Weeks, which commemorates the anniversary of the day God gave the Torah to Moses and the Israelites at Mount Sinai. It is also the festival when we eat dairy - the holiday is also connected to the season of the grain harvest in Israel - so I made my usual time-consuming but tasty cheesecake, which disappeared much too quickly but was enjoyed by all.
In between the cheesecake eating, a visit to the synagogue and entertaining, my 8 year old son and I found some time for a little crafting. For some time now he has been asking to make something to sell in my shop. When he created some place setting cards for our Shabbat table recently, I knew that we had found the perfect card design. Over this school holiday we sat together and each made a card using his illustration.
My son's design shows two candlesticks, a beautiful plaited Challah bread, a Kiddush cup and bottle of wine. In big, bold letters he has spelt out the words 'Shabbat Shalom', A Peaceful Sabbath. I enlarged his original sketch on the computer and showed him how to trace his drawing onto coloured paper. We then had great fun together cutting and sticking to our hearts content!
My son's card and mine now share a listing in my Etsy Shop. If you click here you will  notice that this item is very special and not quite my usual style. The card set has been listed for less than 24 hours but my boy has already asked me a thousand times if anyone has bought it yet! Therefore, dear readers, if any of you would like to make a young boy very, very happy, please consider purchasing this very reasonably priced set of cards. All proceeds will go to the young man in question!
I am sure that there are many people the world over who would love to receive these special cards before any Shabbat. They have been handmade in Israel with so much love and the sale really would make my son's day!
The card set has been sold - thank you.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Neot Hakikar

A few weeks ago we spent a weekend with old friends who were visiting from the UK. They had already booked to stay for a few days at  Moshav Neot Hakikar, south of the Dead Sea, so we decided to also make a booking in a zimmer there (the Israeli B&B is known as a zimmer - German for room) and spend some quality time with them.
It was a weekend for hanging out. We are already quite familiar with the tourist sites in that area - Masada, the Dead Sea and Ein Gedi - but, incredible as they are, this was a time for chatting, catching up on news, glass of wine in hand and burgers on the grill (or in my case, veggie sausages!).
Neot Hakikar is a moshav (a type of cooperative agricultural community in many ways similar to a kibbutz) on the border with Jordan. It has a population of 230 and was founded in 1961. Surrounded by rugged hills at the end of a desolate stretch of road, Neot Hakikar was one of the pioneers of innovative agricultural techniques in Israel, irrigating the desert with salty water to create harvests of tomatoes, melons, figs, herbs and, as we saw when we peeked into some of the many greenhouses, an abundant amount of red, green and yellow peppers.
Truthfully our accommodation wasn't up to much - at least it didn't quite look like the photographs we had seen on the internet when we made the booking - but it really didn't matter. We hung out at our friend's place, climbed the 'mountains' and visited the goats in the nearby farm. The kids dipped themselves into the muddy waters of a nearby spring and we walked and talked. Quite frankly, it was a pretty perfect way to spend a weekend. Come back soon S and D!