Monday, 31 December 2012

The Best of 2012

Tonight we will celebrate the start of a brand new year. 2012 has been a productive year for me and so I thought it would be fun to collect together some of my personal favourites from this past year. As you can see from these mosaics, I am making almost as many guest books as customised cards these days! Well, almost.
Once again, many, many thanks to those of you who have visited 'Handmade in Israel' in 2012. I am always delighted to receive your encouraging comments and support, and hope you will continue to visit in 2013 as I share the coming year's papercut designs and a few of my adventures in Israel.

Don't forget that you can subscribe to my blog, and follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Oh, and please pop by my shop now and then to see what is new there!
Wishing you a wonderful, happy and colourful New Year's Eve. See you next year!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Paper Portraits

A customer recently asked me to make a 40th birthday card for her friend, Fiona. This particular customer knows how I work and e-mailed me a couple of snaps of her friend, along with a list of her hobbies. She told me that Fiona normally wears a bandanna, with some of her blond hair showing. She is a doctor, and at the moment is into cycling, as well as being a big iPod/iPad fan. Fiona also loves the deal-of-the-day website, Groupon and is always getting great deals on purchases. Finally, I was told that she enjoys exotic overseas travel and has been to China, Russia and Thailand on cruises and by air. Lucky girl!
Though there was a lot to work with, it was relatively easy to incorporate all of those hobbies and interests. I showed Fiona in her white doctors coat, with a stethoscope around her neck. Her hair is partly covered by a bandanna and her hands are full with her iPod and iPad!
In the background I added the Groupon logo, a bicycle helmet and, to illustrate her passion for travel, I crafted some palm trees, a big yellow sun with a plane passing over it, and an ocean liner to cover those cruises! Finally I added a big red number 40 to mark her special birthday.
A couple of weeks later my customer let me know that the card had been very well received. The birthday girl, and her family, really liked it!
Back in July I made a birthday card for a baseball fan from his then-fiance. It seems that the card was very well received because I was subsequently asked to make some 'Thank You' cards for the newly married couple's parents after their wedding.
This first card, above, was for the parents of the bride. Her Dad collects coins, and enjoys playing basketball, and watching baseball - The Boston Red Sox - and football - the New England Patriots. Mum loves to cook, enjoys reading and is very involved in Jewish leadership at her synagogue.
I think I got all of their hobbies and interests on there!
The second card, above, was for the groom's father. His interests include computers, photography and playing a little poker. I popped a laptop computer onto the card, along with a camera and some photography equipment. Finally I added some playing cards and some poker chips.
I hope they all enjoyed seeing themselves crafted out of paper!

Monday, 24 December 2012

When the Red, Red Robin

When the red, red robin comes bob, bob, bobbin' along, along...
Actually the song doesn't so much remind me of Christmas, but rather my Dad's favourite rugby league team, Hull Kingston Rovers. I have memories of Dad singing this song over and over again back in the 80's. Hull KR's nickname is 'The Robins', which originates from their traditional playing colours of red and white. Whenever fans wanted to show their appreciation to the club they would chant this song. They probably still do.
Rather than the rugby pitch, my robins were headed for these Christmas cards. I live in an area that does not really acknowledge Christmas. I don't see any Christmas paraphernalia on the street nor watch the seasonal commercials on the television. However I do have a card business and people, including myself, still need Christmas cards. This year the robins made it onto the cards.
So, happy holidays to you all. I wish you a merry and peaceful Christmas, and a wonderful new year.
Looking forward to a crafty and creative 2013.
Lisa x

Thursday, 20 December 2012

After Hanukkah

I know that in many parts of the world folk are stopping work and winding down for Christmas. It's a very different story over here though! We celebrated Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, last week, with candle lighting, presents, yummy fried food and a little travel too. Now the boys have gone back to school and my Dad, who has been here for a visit, has returned to the UK. Does all of this explain my short absence since my last post?
Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and marks the victory of a group of Jews called the Maccabees over the Syrian Greeks, the most powerful army of the ancient world. At the end of a three year war the Maccabees recaptured Jerusalem and lit the eight-branched candelabrum, the Menorah, in the rededicated Holy Temple. 
Nowadays Hanukkah is celebrated by lighting one candle on the Hanukkiah (an eight-branched candelabrum like the one in the temple) each day. Games of dreidel are played as a way of helping children to remember the great miracle of one small jar of oil found in the temple staying alight for eight days. The four letters on the dreidel form an acronym that means 'A great miracle happened here.'
We eat potato pancakes, latkes, and deep-fried doughnuts, sufganiot, once again to remind us of the miracle of the oil and the candles that burned for eight days.
In between all the candle lighting and doughnut eating, we escaped for a few days away up north. The weather was kind to us and we visited some beautiful places in the Golan Heights and the Galilee. We made a return trip to my most favourite place in Israel, the Agamon Lake in the Hula Valley, and I have plenty of gorgeous photos to show you in another post.
For now all that remains is for me to wish those of you celebrating, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have supported me and my blogging adventure throughout the year. I have enjoyed composing each and every one of my posts, and appreciate every comment and email that I receive.
Best wishes from Israel,
Lisa x

Thursday, 6 December 2012

The White City

My friend Mandy came to visit us last month. She and I were at art school together so I knew (hoped!) that she'd be happy to join me on a walking tour of the Bauhaus buildings of Tel Aviv, something that the hubby and kids were somewhat reluctant to do.
The lively city of Tel Aviv was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations a few years ago because of the predominance of Bauhaus (a style also called International) architecture there. Apparently there are over 4,000 Bauhaus buildings in Tel Aviv (and another 1,500 more slated for preservation and restoration), many of them built in the 1930's by German Jewish architects who immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine after the rise of the Nazis.
Between the First and Second World Wars there was a great deal of building in Tel Aviv because of the growing waves of immigration from Europe. There was a need to build cheaply and quickly and the Bauhaus style, known for its simple, modern buildings without any kind of ornamentation, fit the bill nicely.
The buildings were adapted to suit the extremes of the Mediterranean and desert climate. They were raised on pillars to allow the wind to blow under and cool the apartments, as well as providing a play area for children, and were painted white to reflect the heat of the city built on sand dunes. Today these white buildings are the source of Tel Aviv's nickname, 'The White City'.
Our guided walking tour focused on the modern architectural styles of the 1930's in one the 'The White City' main areas, Rothschild Boulevard. We looked at flat roofs, so different from the slanted roofs of Europe, which became the place where social events were held, and at balconies of all kinds of shapes and sizes, but located mainly one on top of  the other so that each floor can serve as a ceiling to the balcony beneath it. Walls not only provided privacy but protected against the sun. Large areas of glass that let in the light, a key element of the Bauhaus style in Europe, were replaced with small recessed windows that limited the heat and glare.
Today many of the Bauhaus buildings have been restored to their former glory, and property developers are rehabilitating many more, often adding on expensive penthouses to enhance the structure. The original architects would probably not have approved because it is a step away from the original minimalist Bauhaus style. However, both the newly built and the restored buildings look wonderful. The café society and communal life of the residents, which grew out of the Bauhaus style of architecture when Tel Aviv’s residents took to the streets as their innovatively designed modern buildings became unbearably hot, continues even today. People were out in force on the day we visited and there was even a little yarn bombing going on around some of the trees on Rothschild Boulevard!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Do guys have sweet 16's?

Do guys have sweet 16's? Well, if they do I guess they'd probably opt for a 'not so sweet 16' party really! Anyway, a young man I know was recently celebrating his 16th birthday and his Mum asked me to make a special card to mark the occasion. She told me that he plays the guitar and generally loves music. He likes to write songs, and his favourite colour is grey! To cheer the grey background up a little bit I added a bunch of coloured music notes and a big shiny number 16. His Mum said he loved the card.
Unless I have a specific theme to work with, cards for the men can be pretty hard to create. I've made cards with ties on them before but decided to rework the design a little bit. I sourced some funky stripy and spotty paper - perfect for ties - and used it come up with some bold colour combinations. A few more men can celebrate their birthdays now and receive 'Handmade in Israel' cards!
My Dad, who is coming to visit us soon, asked me to prepare a variety of cards for him to use for friend's birthdays and other happy occasions. Above, you can see a selection of the designs I created for him. I hope they're what he wanted. I'll report back after his arrival!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Up, Up and Away

I love working with bright colour so I was pleased to get the chance to play with some gorgeous rainbow colours recently when a friend asked me to make a special card for her daughter's 18th birthday. The birthday girl's family were planning on surprising her by booking a trip in a hot air balloon, so my friend asked if I could make that the theme of the card.
I created the colourful balloon, complete with wicker basket and sandbags, and popped it on to a background of blue sky and green fields. A big red number 18 completed the card. Apparently her 18th birthday was a very big deal to the birthday girl so I really tried to accentuate the number and make it pop.
I hope I get to hear all about the balloon ride!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

It really looks like her!

In spite of everything that is going on here in Israel at the moment I am going to continue blogging as normal. There are plenty of wonderful writers out there who can sum up the situation far more eloquently than I am able to. I write about papercrafting and days out in Israel and that's why I think you visit this blog. Politics isn't where my talent lies. Life is going on for me in as normal a way as possible. I am still at my desk cutting away. Here are my latest cards...
Those of you on Facebook may remember me posting this photo of the little paper running shoes I was in the process of creating. Well, I added laces and this is the card they were intended for.
A customer requested a Get Well Soon and Happy Birthday card for a very dear friend. She sent me a couple of photos and told me that her friend loves running. Other than that I was left to get on with it. I was delighted to receive a really enthusiastic response from my customer when she received the card, which had the birthday greeting in English on it and the Hebrew words 'רפואה שלמה' which literally translate as "a complete recovery".
"The card for my friend, R. is just spectacular" she wrote. "It really looks like her! I can't wait for the 12th November to get it to her!".
This was followed by another e-mail.
"Lisa, just wanted to tell you I took the card you made for my friend R. to her today. She absolutely loved it! She loved seeing herself running and her running shoes and also recognised her bandanna! She was really touched, and I was so happy to have done it! Thanks again."
The same lovely lady had her 10 year old son's birthday coming up. She told me that his interests at the moment include breakdancing and beatboxing, playing the saxophone, swimming in the sea, and playing on the computer.
Well, the beat boxing was a little hard to portray - I did try playing around with the shape of his mouth but didn't like the way it looked - but otherwise I think I got everything in there!
I have shown the young man breakdancing and also, if you look closely, you can see him swimming in the sea in the background. His laptop computer is nearby, as is his saxophone and a few music notes. A big yellow number 10 finished off the card and I popped it in the same package to my customer.
Once again she was wonderfully enthusiastic about it. "The birthday card for Y. is also fantastic.... really fun!" she wrote.
It really makes my day when I receive such positive feedback!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Scavenger Hunting in Nachalot

Remember when I went scavenging around Jerusalem earlier this year? Well, Tali Kaplinski Tarlow and the rest of the Jerusalem Scavenger Hunts team kindly invited me back again, this time to explore Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighbourhood.
Nachalot is actually a cluster of neighbourhoods in central Jerusalem, and is known for its narrow, winding lanes, old-style housing, hidden courtyards and many small synagogues. The neighbourhood was established in the late 1870's outside the walls of the Old City, which was becoming increasingly overcrowded and unsanitary. Sir Moses Montefiore, one of the most well-known supporters and benefactors of Israel in the 19th century, was involved in the building of Nachlaot, and the Mazkeret Moshe ('Memorial to Moses') and Ohel Moshe neighbourhoods were named after him.
After a short introduction from Tali about the Scavenger Hunts, and specifically about Nachlaot, we divided ourselves up in to teams and were given a Mission Pack, including a source book, map, instruction booklet and notebook. Our job was to solve the various tasks and clues set for us in the book. The answers were to be found in the street names, buildings, street art and signs all around us.
My team included Robin, a talented photographer, and two writers, Miriam and Laura. We had a great deal of fun together, though I may as well tell you now that we didn't come in first. We did better than last time though - we weren't last! Actually the whole competitive thing kind of passes me by. I prefer to take my time and learn about the area, rather than rushing to win. I guess I must be getting old!
As we moved from station to station along the hunt's route, we learnt about the families who lived in the area, as well as famous personalities who grew up there. Nachlaot was at once home to Yitzchak Navon, a playwright who would go on to become Israel’s fifth president, as well as various members of the Banai family, a family celebrated here in Israel for producing several famous performers and musicians.
We got lost once but Tali was around and about and helped us get back on track. We counted the old stone cisterns that once served as each community’s primary water source, and checked out the prayer times on one of the larger synagogue's boards. We talked to an actor who turned out to have no connection to the hunt whatsoever, though we had assumed otherwise, and we donated a few coins to charity as one of our set tasks.
All in all the Nachlaot Scavenger Hunt was really enjoyable. Anyone who wants to really discover Jerusalem, in this case specifically Nachlaot, should definitely give it a go.
To round off the whole event, we were provided with delicious vegetable soup and rolls, courtesy of the Village Green vegetarian restaurant, whilst Tali closed the morning's activities with a short talk about the places we had visited. Afterwards I hopped on over to Nachlaot's next-door neighbour, the Machane Yehuda Market (more commonly known as “The Shuk”) to purchase freshly baked rugelach and other treats for the oncoming Shabbat. It was certainly not a bad way to spend a morning...

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A Wine and Crossword Type of Bloke

A customer wrote to tell me that her parents were soon going to be celebrating their 55th wedding anniversary. Mum is into patchwork big time, she told me, and Dad is a wine and crossword type of bloke. A card was put together combining their hobbies and, yes, I pieced together each little square of paper just like a real patchwork quilt! Apparently Mum was thrilled with it.
We were delighted to celebrate this young lady's Bat Mitzvah with her last week and had great fun dancing into the night to some great hits from the 80's! The Bat Mitzvah girl is far cooler than her Mum and Dad's friends of course and she put on a surprise Hip hop show for all her guests! No wonder Mum had asked me to make a Hip hop themed card for the occasion. Even though I am not cool and prefer dancing to Grease myself, I hope I got it about right!
I have made cards for 'Martine' many times. Mum simply asked me for something pretty on this occasion but, since I know that she is a teacher, I popped a little pile of books and a few pencils into the design, along with some more appropriately themed balloons and flowers.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Shvil Izim

We visited Shvil Izim goat farm for the first time only a few weeks ago, during Chol HaMoed Sukkot, but have already been back again! I kind of fell in love with the place you see and, with a good friend visiting from the UK, I had the perfect excuse - not that I needed one - to go back for breakfast and to say hello to my favourite goat, Nechama!
The family goat farm is located at the foot of the Jerusalem mountains, in Moshav Tal Shachar, which in Hebrew means morning dew. Our first visit there saw us taking part in a children's activity where we saw how soft cheese is made, enjoyed a guided tour of the goat pen, and then had a little go at milking the goats. Afterwards we sampled several of the boutique dairy's yoghurts and cheeses, particularly favoured by my eldest son who rather gorged himself on them! Well, it could be worse...
Much as we enjoyed our visit, I wanted to go back to check out the restaurant. The restaurant's terrace overlooks the beautiful pastoral landscape and looked tempting. It offers kosher dairy meals,
with home baked pastries, fresh vegetables, and of course rich yoghurts and cheeses.
So back we went to enjoy a wonderful Israeli breakfast - a great way to start a relaxing weekend. The eggs were good and the fresh salad quite delicious. The best bit? The cheese and yoghurt of course, followed by good coffee and some freshly baked bread.
The goat farm's specialities include a Gouda, their own Soreq, named for the region in which they’re located, as well as soft feta, labneh and yoghurts, all produced from milk from their 100-goat herd.
The restaurant is located right next to the goat shed and so, after we had eaten, we had to go back to see the really sweet goats. They munch away on hay, grass and frankly anything proffered by the visitor (we are of course asked not to feed them). Two exciting additions since our previous visit were spotted, below.
Our final stop before we left was to the delicatessen to purchase both soft and hard goat cheeses, and a bottle of delicious strawberry yoghurt. All are produced on the premises without any preservatives and were a very healthy treat for my son and I over the subsequent weekend.
Shvil Izim, Moshav Tal Shahar - 08 949 5964.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012


This morning my eldest son turned 12. Wow, time really does fly! He can't already be that big already, can he?
It seems to be a pretty good age though. He is becoming more organised, independent, and fun to be around. He's busy with school, his social arrangements, and just about everything else! I guess I should enjoy it till he turns into a grumpy teenager, right?
Birthdays aren't birthdays in our family without a special card made by Mum. My son is a child of routine and has stuck with the very same interests and hobbies for many years now. Each year I try and show him doing something different on his card. I've covered football, more football, tennis and cycling since I started writing this blog (he does like his sport!). This year it HAD to be the year of the iPod! Yes, some time ago the hubby and I caved and allowed him to spend all his pocket money and birthday money and any other money in his possession, on an iPod. It's not the best way for him to spend his days but... I have to admit he's a lot more iPod savvy than I am!
So, dressed in his favourite green Nike t-shirt and Adidas cap, he has his precious iPod in one hand and his favoured propelling pencil in the other. He's writing down his maths answers in his workbook - he's very good at maths, unlike his Mum. There's a football in the background - football had to feature somewhere on the card - and two book covers of his recent favourite reads.
My boys desperately want a dog, though the hubby and I are not quite ready to commit. There is always much discussion about which dog we would get, if we were to even get a dog! Even though my son is now a pretty tall, sporty child, for some bizarre reason he favours little fluffy dogs! Puh-lease! My husband says that I teased him by putting that cute little white dog in the corner, but hey, he can cope :)
Finally Rabbity popped in, as he does every year. Rabbity was a much loved toy for several years but no longer features in my son's life. He's still hanging in there though - literally by a thread - so I featured him on the birthday card too.
Happy Birthday to my sporty yet studious 12 year old. I hope you have a great birthday and enjoy the important year ahead, with all the forthcoming Bar Mitzvah preparations. You may be 12 and all grown up, but you're never too old for cake!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Tamar's Album

I have known Tamar since she was a baby and remember her so well at the age she is in little photo you can see above. Therefore I was delighted when her Mum asked me to make an album for her Bat Mitzvah celebration and, even though time was tight, it was all ready for Tamar to take along to her ice skating party for all of her friends to write in.
Tamar's Mum sent me a favourite photo with her hair really curly, just how she likes it, along with the cherished photo of her from when she was little. She told me that Tamar's hobbies include gymnastics (the subject matter of her birthday card last year), shopping and drawing, and that her favourite colour is purple.
On the front cover on her album I showed Tamar with her really curly dark hair, a big smile (and a few freckles). She is wearing big hoop earrings - as Mum requested - and all around her I have depicted her various hobbies, as well as an Australian and Israeli flag since she was born in Australia and now lives in Israel.
Inside I decorated several pages. The shopping bags made an appearance again, along with a few little doodles (apparently she doodles all the time at school) and some pencils. The name Tamar means 'date' (the edible kind) in Hebrew and Tamar's middle name is Rose, thus a page with a big red rose on it, above, and palm tree complete with teeny tiny dates, was created. The final two pages showed the flags of her two "home countries" and, shown above, a picture of her doing gymnastics in the sparkly white top she wears for competitions.
The front of the album says 'Tamar's Bat Mitzvah' in both English and Hebrew, and displays the date of her celebration according to the Western Gregorian calendar and also the Hebrew date. (The Jewish calendar is a lunar calendar, with twelve lunar months of 29 or 30 days, which is about ten days short of a solar year, so seven years in every nineteen have an extra month.  This ensures that the seasonal festivals keep to their correct season.) The album opens in the Hebrew direction, from the right, because the Hebrew language is read from right to left instead of left to right like English.
I am told that Tamar loved it. Now her Mum intends to get photos printed from her celebration so she can stick them in alongside the greetings from her friends. She predicts it will take months!!!

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Teenage Kicks

A regular customer of mine asked me to make a birthday card for her son. I have made cards for his special day for several years now and Mum was keen that I somehow show that her 16 year old has grown and looks older. I steered away from my more usual round face on this occasion and gave him an 'older' look. Mum loved it!
I showed the young man in his NOAM youth movement shirt since he is one of our local group's leaders. (NOAM is an acronym for No'ar Masorti, Masorti Youth, a Zionist youth movement.) He is holding up a board with the youth movement's logo on it and the local branch's badge is above his shoulder.
The card above was the result of a request for something 'girly'. Apparently the birthday girl loves nail polish, jewellery and all things pretty, so I popped those things in there, being careful once again to give the card a 'teenage' look. I hope she liked it.
Finally, her brother was also celebrating a birthday around the same time. Their Mum felt that he was too old to have his hobbies illustrated on the card (hey, you're never too old!) and preferred some kind of funky design instead. I must admit that the pattern I chose was heavily influenced by a design I saw online, but I adapted it to suit my own style and was really happy with the result. The young man has a nice short name which fitted nicely into the layout, and I loved how my coloured circles became the dot on the letter 'i' too.