Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Brothers and Sisters

This little space of mine is in great danger of becoming a travel blog rather than a blog about card making, lol! I am going to jump in for a moment between all the postings about the wonderful things we have done here in Israel this summer to show you a couple of cards that I made in my spare moments.
A customer asked me to make a card for her sister that was most definitely not pink. She wanted a cool, modern card that was not so much pretty than suave and sophisticated.There was no particular theme requested so I simply played with layers of papers until I came up with these modern flowers in a calm, refreshing colour scheme. And it only included just a teensy-weensy bit of pink!
My brother-in-law celebrated his birthday not so long ago. He is a serious football fan but I have made him football themed cards for as long as I can remember, in every shape and form that I can think of! This year I decided to just go for a simple birthday theme, with a present and some balloons on it. I also popped in his initial to personalise the card that bit more. Don't think he missed out this year though. His birthday present was very much to do with football and, more specifically, his favourite team!

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Sea of Galilee

Sadly the summer is coming to an end. I don't mean the weather - it is still hot, hot, hot over here - but rather the lazy mornings, fun outings, swimming, touring and frozen yoghurt consumption that are part of summer holidays. The boys are going back to school on Thursday and I am feeling a little sad about it (though I must admit it will be nice to get back to my crafting).
We have had an amazing time over the school holidays. I have gotten a little behind with my blogging but hope to post many photos here from our various mini breaks. I'm going to kick off now with pictures from our trip up north, to the Kinneret, or The Sea of Galilee, Israel's largest freshwater lake.
We stayed in wonderful kibbutz accommodation in the Lower Galilee area, where the Kinneret is situated. The Lower Galilee is the southern part of the Galilee. It's called "Lower" since it is less mountainous than the Upper Galilee, yet the landscape is greener, with forested hills, fertile valleys and gushing springs. It is also is a history-soaked region where scores of events in the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament took place.
The few days we were in the area we visited the delightful Gan Garoo, a beautifully landscaped park that features a variety of animals and plants, all of which are native to Australia. We all fell in love with the cuddly koala and the kangaroos which move around freely in a specially designated area.
The same day we visited Sachne, known in Hebrew as Gan HaShlosha (literally "Park of the three"). Sachne is a series of natural pools fed by hot springs and a stream with mini waterfalls.  Although the water is warm, it is amazingly cool and refreshing on a hot summer's day. The pools are pretty deep and the kids had a blast. After experiencing our somewhat overcrowded local pool, swimming in the pools at Sachne was simply a dream for us all.
On another day we kayaked down the River Jordan. At times the current kept us moving but we also had to use our paddles too. The kids naturally wanted to race against each other even though I tried to point out that we were missing the gorgeous scenery that way. The thick riverbank vegetation was delightful, unless you happen to be heading straight into it with your kayak!
Further outings saw us making chocolates at the delightful Galita's Chocolate Farm. The Farm is housed in a beautiful old stone building that was originally the first cowshed of Kibbutz Deganya Bet, some 85 years ago. A film told us the story of chocolate, from the fruit on the tree to the praline in our mouths. The kids soon set to work making - and sampling - chocolate treats which were truly delicious (if you can forget just how much they have been 'handled'!!!).
We visited an ostrich farm on the shores of the Kinneret, though delightful as the animals were, the place has seen better days, and took a jeep tour around the hills and through the streams near Moshav Ramot. The sights were magnificent!
One evening we indulged and ate dinner at the truly incredible Decks restaurant. We were given a table on the deck overlooking the Kinneret and the skyline of Tiberias. The food was good and I got to taste St. Peter's Fish, straight from the Sea of Galilee. It was a little expensive, but the atmosphere of the place made up for it. Pizza was on the menu the following evening to put things right.
For those interested in Christianity, the area has a lot to offer. We did not visit those sites on this occasion. There was simply too much to do. For sure we'll be back there another time to enjoy the great views and fascinating history of this special place.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tales in Sand

One of the most incredible things we have seen this summer has been The Eretz Israel Museum’s latest exhibition 'Tales in Sand'. The exhibition, or rather "the unique outdoor experience" as their promotional material justly describes it, is made up of dozens of huge sand installations depicting beloved fairy tales from around the world, including Snow White, Cinderella, Hansel and Gretel, Gulliver, Little Red Riding Hood and Pinocchio.
As it began to get dark one evening last week we arrived at the museum, ready to enjoy the 18 giant sculptures made of sand, crafted by artists from the World Sand Sculpting Academy in Holland.
Over the course of two weeks prior to the exhibition opening, the sculptors and two Israeli colleagues constructed some truly incredible designs using 700 tons of sand, in 35-degree heat! Viewing the results of their hard work, lit by specially designed lights as darkness fell, I can only describe them as breathtaking. The young children who had come to visit delighted in looking at their fairy tale heroes but it was the adults who could really appreciate how incredible the sculptures really were.
Working under the Israeli sun was probably not easy, but the results of all the efforts clearly paid off. The artists managed to build a fantastic city, occupied by some amazing inhabitants. Furthermore, because of the local climate, specifically the lack of rain, the sandy figures are guaranteed quite a long life. 'Tales in Sand' remains open through the end of August at the Eretz Israel Museum, 2 Haim Levanon Street, Tel Aviv. I strongly recommend a visit.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A Bar Mitzvah, a Birthday... and Bouncing on a Trampoline

We are having a terrific summer! In fact, such a terrific summer that I have been far too busy to download my most recent photos from our few days at the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). I promise to blog all about it soon but in the meantime I have a few cards to show you from recent orders I have completed in between all the fun.
'Aaron' recently came to Israel to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah at The Western Wall (HaKotel HaMa'aravi), the remaining part of the ancient wall that surrounded the Jewish Temple's courtyard and one of the most sacred sites in Judaism. My customer asked me to make a card for him that included the wall as the main theme.
I sourced a photo that showed men praying at the wall and put the Bar Mitzvah boy in the foreground, reading from a Torah scroll (a handwritten copy of the Torah, the holiest book within Judaism). He is wearing his kippa and tallit, which many boys begin wearing from the age of Bar Mitzvah. I was told that Aaron is quite tall and has dark hair. I hope this little illustration looked like him in some small way.
A short while ago this guy, above, celebrated a birthday and his Mum, who had recently been on the receiving end of one my cards, got in touch with me and asked me to this time make a card for her son. He manages a shop that sells orthopedic equipment and so I added a knee brace, inner soles and a foot bandage to the picture. Certainly one of the more unusual requests that I have received! His Mum also said that he is a handy guy, thus the hammer, screwdriver and spanner. I do hope that he liked his card.
Funnily enough a few days after making the birthday card above, I received another order from the same family, this time Mum-in-law! She had also seen my cards and wanted to know if I could make something for her daughter and son-in-law's wedding anniversary. She liked a particular card that I had made before showing two young girls bouncing on trampoline but, for this card, asked me to replace the girls with the anniversary couple. Not a problem. My new customer seemed very happy with the design and sent me an e-mail telling me that she thought the card "delightful". I hope it made the couple happy too.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

The Design Museum, Holon

Everyone visits Tel Aviv, but the city of Holon, less than half an hour away, boasts a world-class Design Museum which I had heard a lot about but had not yet looked in on. Last week the kids and I made the time to go and what a great time we had!
The building of the museum was planned and designed by Israeli industrial designer, artist and architect Ron Arad. The first thing that captures your eye when you approach the building are the brightly colored steel 'ribbons' weaving round and round, creating a fascinating structure that encompasses two gallery spaces, a design lab and an archival collection. A little over a year old, the outside of the museum building is frankly just as amazing as the exhibits.
The exhibition 'New Olds' is currently being shown at the museum. It examines new ways of looking at common materials and how to assemble (or re-assemble) them. Our favourites among the seventy exhibits were the colourful armchair made up entirely of balloons, the traditional looking carpet made up of hundreds of puzzle pieces and the bookshelf made of, what else, but books!
Accompanied by a museum guide, the kids and I became 'Design Detectives' for the morning. We took part in an investigative tour of the galleries, searching for particular materials, shapes, uses and ideas behind the works being showcased.
We spent a couple of hours there and then it was time to move on. It certainly won't be for the last time. I will be keeping an eagle eye on the museum's list of future exhibitions but honestly cannot wait to go back simply to ogle that amazing building once again!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

The Nurses Collection Part II

Remember these little sneak previews I gave you last month? Well, now I am able to reveal the rest of 'The Nurses Collection' in their full glory!
I showed you those teeny tiny bright orange painted fingernails in my preview post - now you can see who they belong to! Actually, I think that this was the first time in all my years of card making that it has been specified what colour the fingernails should be! I was also told exactly which finger the thick silver ring should be on and on which finger the gold band should be. This particular customer really pays attention to the minutest of details...
This card, above, is a thank you card. Aside from the ring and nail details, I was asked to illustrate a lady with long dark hair, specifically with gold coloured highlights, wearing a white jacket. The symbols shown alongside her are to do with occupational therapy - pegs, scissors, a knife and fork and coins. Paying huge attention to detail, my customer requested that I add a framed picture with the word 'Haiti' in the background. I do not know this particular medical worker but I sure do feel that I know a lot about the way she looks now!
Card number two is also a thank you card. The greeting in hebrew says 'Thank you with all my heart'. The lady on this card is an Orthodox Jew and it was requested that I show her wearing an orange head covering, with no hair showing at all. Apparently she always brings a lunch of cut-up vegetables along with her, so I have added that to the illustration, along with the sun, heart and the word אמונה, faith. My customer wanted the card to somehow depict love and warmth. I hope that I have achieved that in a small way.
The final card in the collection went to a grey haired lady with glasses, who wears her hair held up on one side with a black clip (here we go with the small details again!). The symbols on this card had to do with the mind and thinking. I suggested a question mark and cogs turning.This lady isn't in fact a nurse, so no white jacket was required this time. Instead I was asked to show her wearing wide trousers, similar to culottes.
I think that my customer's medical carers have all been thanked by now. I do hope that they liked their cards. But, even more than that, I hope they appreciated just how carefully my customer has paid attention to the way they look and dress and really gone into the smallest of details in order to make the cards absolutely unique to them!