Monday, 30 January 2012

Valentine Birds

Welcome to the Etsy Greetings Valentine Blog Hop! The hop starts at the team blog, where you'll find a complete list of participating blogs. Start there or jump right in here and use the red arrows at the end of this post to navigate to other participating blogs!
For this hop we were asked to pair a Valentine card from our own shop with a gift item from anywhere on Etsy. The decision was pretty easy for me. I have a favourite card in my shop which is perfect for Valentine's Day, an anniversary, birthday or just to tell someone how much you care. Looking through my favourites on Etsy (when you find an item or shop on Etsy that you love, you can bookmark it by adding it to your Favourites. This is also referred to as "hearting" an item or shop.) the perfect gift to go with my card jumped right out at me - Abigail Brown's Pink Fabric Bird.
I have been waiting from my husband to discover my Etsy Favourites for quite some time now. I have hinted several times that it is THE place to find my very favourite things, the things I most desire, but it is falling on deaf ears for the moment! In the meantime, I remain passionate about Abigail's exquisite birds and think that this little pink bird is the perfect partner for my card.
Abigail studied for a BA in Surface Decoration and Printed Textiles and since that time has worked as a designer and illustrator of children's books, children's wear, stationery, and greeting cards. As a child she spent a great deal of time with her grandma, an incredibly talented seamstress, and now says that there is nothing more natural to her than to work with fabric, using it to give life to the little creatures that form in her mind.
Abigail's little bird is not based on any specific species but is rather just a pretty little bird with a great deal of appeal. She - I rather think she is a girl - is crafted entirely by hand, layered with different coloured textured and patterned fabrics and embellished with tiny hand stitches to replicate feathers. She stands alone on wire legs and measures around 13cm in height.
My rather girly card was originally created for a friend's birthday and I thoroughly enjoyed going a little overboard crafting a sweet little bird, flowers and balloons in a pretty colour scheme of pinks, lemons and turquoises. I was rather pleased with the result and decided to recreate it and pop it into my shop. It is one of my larger cards, measuring 15cm x 20cm folded and, though perfect for Valentine's Day, I have left it without a greeting so that it can be used for any occasion*.
I have made it clear from this post that I would dearly love that little bird for myself! Unfortunately that is not likely to happen but I am sure that there are many bird lovers out there who would love to own such an exquisitely crafted piece, handmade in Abigail's studio in London. My own card is of course handmade in my workspace here in Israel but in my dreams our two birds could perhaps fly off and meet up halfway. Israel, located at the junction of three continents, is crossed by migrating birds on a scale unparallelled anywhere. About 500 million birds cross Israel's narrow airspace twice every year in the course of their migrations and consequently Israel has become an attraction for bird enthusiasts worldwide. I dare say that one of those enthusiasts would appreciate these little pink birds as much as I do!

* If you wish to purchase the card from my shop and would like me to customise it with a particular name or greeting, simply let me know by e-mail or Etsy convo.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Coming to Light

Some time ago I read an online article about the origami exhibition Yotze la-Or (“yotze la-or” means both “coming to light” and “published” in Hebrew). The paper lanterns shown looked amazing and so I was excited to take a morning away from my own paper crafting to view the exhibition at a small gallery in nearby Holon.
I discovered that the artist whose creations I found so inspiring was Ilan Garibi, a retired Israeli Defence Forces officer. The articIe I read about the exhibition stated that whilst in the IDF Ilan would motivate his soldiers to get up early with the promise of origami lessons. He now makes a living from origami, sometimes collaborating with well known origami artists Miri Golan and Paul Jackson. After 30 years of following patterns, he has been creating his own elaborate patterns since 1998, all within the restrictions of the pure origami rules - no glue, no cuts, just folds and creases.
This exhibition focuses on Ilan's lighting fixtures made of Japanese paper. The artist uses a unique origami technique known as tessellation. A tessellation - also called tiling - is when shapes are arranged side by side to produce a pattern with no gaps in between. Tessellations have existed since ancient Egyptian times and are still common today in floor and wall tilings. In origami tessellations are used to connect elements together in a repeating fashion. Origami tessellations can be regular (triangles, hexagons) or irregular (parallelograms, trapezoids). They are all periodic (repeating pattern).
Ilan Garibi's designs - mostly complex geometric patterns - produce some stunning pieces. A friend and I went to the exhibition together. She is a talented papercut artist herself and we both spent quite some time marvelling at his work, simply trying to figure out just how each piece had been created from just one sheet of paper, folded over and over again to create some truly breathtaking art.
The artist has, in his own words, "a sense of precision I inherited from my (his) father". All the folds in his pieces are made by hand, without the help of a ruler or any mechanical aid.
To see more pictures of Ilan Garibi's remarkable work, take a look at his website.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


We had an early start this morning. I crawled out of bed when it was still dark to make sandwiches and get the boys' school bags ready early. Why? Because my youngest son turned 9 today and we had presents to open and cake to eat of course! There was a special card from Mummy too. My eldest son had been begging to see it for several days but I kept it well hidden. Both boys have learned to expect them and anxiously wait to see how I have portrayed them that year. This year's card seems to have been a big hit!
My son is a creative little guy. He loves to draw and has written some great short stories. He reads and reads and reads as well. Inside his special birthday card I wrote "Keep drawing. Keep writing. Keep reading. But please stop chewing your pencils and please stop spilling your food!!!". You see, with the creativeness comes a messy personality! There isn't a pencil in the house which has not been gnawed (any tips on how to get him to stop would be very much appreciated!) and he is forever spilling food on his clothes. Not everything is rosy! However, I love that he appreciates art and craft and so we'll not worry about the chewed pencils and ruined clothes for today!
So, how does the birthday boy look on his card? Well, I have shown him wearing his absolute favourite piece of clothing - his "leather" jacket which make him look so cool! He has his bullet necklace - purchased with his pocket money at The Ayalon Institute clandestine bullet factory some time ago - round his neck, and has a book in one hand and the aforementioned chewed pencil in the other. In front of him is one of his better drawings, a Doctor Who one, which I scanned and rotated a little so that it looks like he is working on it. My son thought that was great! A big orange number 9 declares his age and a favourite toy, Cookie the hamster, is perched on top of it. Finally I added some coloured Lego blocks - another favourite activity - and a big pile of books to the picture. I think it all just about sums him up!
My son's passion for creating means that he very much appreciated the couple of homemade gifts I made for him. He was fascinated when I sewed this little cross stitch, so I made him one for his room too. This one was a counted needlepoint kit and I am happy to report that, even though his bedroom walls are covered with scary looking Doctor Who posters, he seems excited to add this little cat picture to his collection. I put together his very own book as well, full of his own stories and illustrations, but am going to save that for another post.
And what's a birthday without cake? Happy Birthday to my crafty and creative 9 year old. I can't wait for your sleepover next week...
* If you would like to see some of his previous birthday cards, click here, here and here.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Family is Everything

It has to be said that most of the enquiries I receive about my cards are from women. Mums, Grandmas and Aunties. I get the occasional call - usually quite last minute - from a husband, and even more occasionally, from a Grandpa. I don't often receive requests for cards from kids, but in this case a gorgeous 11 year old girl who knows that her Mum loves my cards, wanted to order one for her Mum's birthday! I was totally taken aback by this young lady's somewhat rushed call - she was using Mum's mobile to call me since, I am guessing, she knew the number was in there - but she knew what she wanted and gave me enough information to create a card according to her requirements.
My young customer asked me to show her Mum and her children on the card (above). She was also quite specific that Mum's age had to be on there. Other than that, I know the kids and had anyway made a birthday card for the eldest daughter not long ago, so was quite up to date with their various 'looks'. I knew that the youngest daughter had to have her hair in two cuckoos (in Hebrew 'cuckoo' means ponytail) and that the eldest daughter has some much loved white hoop earrings. The son is a good friend of my youngest son, so that was easy - I see him a lot - and the card came together easily enough and was soon delivered to the young lady at school. Unfortunately, as kids do, the boy let the secret out right at the very end of the whole process, but Mum was thrilled that her kids had gone to such great efforts anyway and did not let on. They even organised a surprise party for her, complete with a special dance show. What great kids! I was so impressed by their kindness.
Whilst I'm on the subject of kindness, I want to show you how wonderfully kind Stephanie of Stelie Designs was to me! Stephanie and I are teammates on the Etsy Greetings team and not long ago she announced to the team that she was running a giveaway on her blog. It was Thanksgiving and Stephanie wanted to know what we were all most thankful for. As a prize, she was giving away a personalised custom family tree print. The 8x10 image, printed on white recycled cardstock, declares "Our family is everything" and shows several trees, each with the name of a family member, along with the date the family was established, on it. Guess who was the winner? Me!!!
I received my beautiful print in the mail a few days ago. It has 4 trees on it (representing the 4 members of my family) and is inscribed with all our names and the date my husband and I were married. My photo of it, above, really does not do it justice. (Sorry Stephanie but we're right in the middle of some pretty grey days over here). This is certainly a piece of art that I am going to treasure for a long time to come.
And my answer to Stephanie's question, well here goes: "Apart from being thankful for my family of course, I am thankful for being able to live in this wonderful, beautiful country that I chose to make my home. I love it here!"

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

101 Not Out

Not long ago I received a phone call requesting an 80th birthday card. My customer initially did not know what kind of image he wanted on the card but, after some prompting, it soon emerged that this was a card that was travelling a long way, to Australia to be exact. It seems that 'Joe', the birthday boy, used to play cricket in his younger days, and was a politician and a retired lawyer to boot! I had more than enough to work with and, after seeing a snapshot of the celebrant, was able to put together an image of him in his cricket whites, bat in hand, with the score board not actually declaring the results of the match but rather his age. The blue background is the colour of the Australian flag and I included a 'Vote Joe' badge, which he may or may not have used in his political days. The black law book represents his career.
My customer seemed delighted with the card and actually posted the following message to our city's e-mail list:
"Lisa Isaacs has just made a birthday card for us. We gave details of the career/hobbies and interests of the recipient and she has made a really amusing card, incorporating these details, thereby making a really personalised card. Lisa has made several cards for us in the past and we've always been delighted with the results."
How nice was that?
My kids were blown away simply by the number on this birthday card and frankly so was I!  After all, how many times have I been asked to make a card for a 101 year old? Just the once actually! Last year I made this special centenarian a card acknowledging her talent for watercolour painting, a hobby which she has apparently recently taken up again! This year I focused on her incredible age, embellishing the design with a few colourful flowers. As I wrote last year, "ad meah viesrim", (until 120).
Lastly, the card above was also a request for a pretty incredible occasion. A friend's grandparents were celebrating 70 years of marriage. Such an amazing achievement! I was asked to make a card for them but my friend was concerned that, at the couple's respective ages, any hobbies were a thing of the past. Not a problem! I created little paper portraits of the couple and added a big 70 and a couple of champagne glasses to the design.
How wonderful to be creating cards for such monumental occasions!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Ammunition Hill

One of the most successful - and definitely the most meaningful - outings we made during the recent Chanukah break was to Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem. Ammunition Hill (the hill where the British stored ammunition during the Mandate Period) was the name given to a former Jordanian military post that was taken by IDF (Israel Defence Forces) paratroopers in a landmark battle during the 1967 Six Day War. It became a national Heritage and Memorial Site, with a museum dedicated to the liberation of Jerusalem in that war and to the 182 Israeli soldiers who lost their lives in the battles for Jerusalem and her surroundings.
The boys have reached an age where we are comfortable taking them to these places, which I suspect they find both fascinating and also a little scary. After all, they will both one day serve in the IDF themselves, since in Israel military service is compulsory. They are still young enough to enjoy the whole soldier/battle thing though and my youngest thoroughly enjoyed climbing through the well preserved trenches and bunkers at the site, an empty Uzi, lent to him by one of the female soldiers working at the museum, in hand.
Ammunition Hill (in Hebrew Givat Hatachmoshet) lies between the modern Jerusalem neighbourhoods of Ramat Eshkol and French Hill. The site is preserved as it was in the war and includes a museum that commemorates the soldiers who fell in the battle, as well as a rousing film which explains the stages of the battle of the three brigades, the Air Force and the Central Command, who liberated Jerusalem. Standing in the winter sunshine, beautiful views surrounding us, it was really quite hard to believe that this place had once been conquered by the Jordanians and cut off from Israel.
Today Ammunition Hill houses the main Jerusalem induction centre for new IDF recruits. When my sons were born the possibility that they might not need to serve in the IDF was there. It was tiny, but it was there. Now it is more than unlikely. One day they will be soldiers, but, in the meantime, on this beautiful winter's day, we were happy for them to pretend and to learn a little about the history of the country they are lucky enough to live in.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Tali's Album

Happy 2012 everyone! I hope you all had a fun time. Sadly New Year's Eve is not a big holiday here in Israel, specifically because the Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah) actually falls in autumn, a few months previously. However, as a family we didn't let it go unnoticed and we had a nice evening at home, watching a film together, eating popcorn and viewing the fireworks in Australia and around the world on the television.
Anyway... what have I got to show you for my first post of 2012? A colourful album I recently made for a young lady celebrating her Bat Mitzvah in London.
This young lady had actually seen one of my albums at the recent Bat Mitzvah celebration of one of her good friends and subsequently requested one of her own. There was a small communication problem - a case of e-mails not reaching me - so the album was quite last minute, though not so last minute that I wasn't able to give it my usual great attention to detail!
I learnt that this Bat Mitzvah girl likes reading, baking cakes, making models, art, sewing, debating and singing and that her favourite colour is turquoise. Phew! That was a long list! She also asked me to include her Junior and Secondary School badges in the album.
After several e-mails back and forth it was decided that I should show the young lady reading, baking and crafting on the cover of the album, whilst her many other remaining interests would go inside. I also added her name, in both English and Hebrew, along with the name and date of the Bat Mitzvah celebration itself.
Inside I decorated some of the album pages with (clockwise from top left) a little illustration of the Bat Mitzvah girl chatting (her request!), the aforementioned school badges, music notes to represent her love of singing, and some little wooden houses, a bridge and some animals since she is a keen model maker. She's obviously a crafty girl since she loves sewing too (below).
The album orders are coming in fast at the moment! I have two more to create in the near future. I love designing them and it's always fun to 'get to know' these kids in a very small way. As the Hebrew expression goes, Rak B'smachot - “Only on joyous occasions". Happy New Year!