Thursday, 28 November 2013

40, 50, 80... Coming, Ready or Not

Dan turned 40 and his wife asked me to create a special card for his big day. She wanted me to show him running - he's a very sporty guy - but also wanted to somehow include his love for Israel, football and, erm, licorice! Dan also enjoys going on tiyulim (hikes) and he apparently drinks lots of water and hot drinks.
I have shown Dan running, with his favourite mug of tea in one hand and his preferred brand of bottled water in the other. He has some licorice in his shirt pocket. The trees in the background suggest that he is outside, perhaps on a hike. I added the flag of Israel and a football and even managed to fit in the number 40 as well. The greeting on the front of the card, "World's Greatest Abba", simply means "World's Greatest Dad". In this case Abba is the Hebrew word for Dad, rather than the world famous Swedish pop group!
Both Dan and his wife told me several times how much they loved the card. It was clearly a big hit!
This card was a simple request for something pretty for a darling daughter. I've made something like this before and enjoyed creating the modern flower shapes, so I did something similar in a different colour scheme.
Mike was celebrating his 50th birthday. He's into guns in a big way but his wife and I agreed that it was perhaps not the greatest theme for a birthday card! I suggested a cake and some balloons instead but added a gun anyway, just for the heck of it! I wonder if Mike spotted it.
Finally, my Mother-in-law recently celebrated her 80th birthday. Unfortunately we could not be with her for the big day, though we of course saw her pretty recently, along with the rest of the family, for my son's Bar Mitzvah celebrations. I got organised before our big event and gave this pretty card, decorated with colourfully wrapped presents and butterflies, to my father-in-law. I hope he remembered to give it to her on the day!

Monday, 25 November 2013

Capturing the Moment

Last year I made my husband's all-time favourite card. A customer sent me a photograph of her friends who were newly engaged and asked me to recreate the photograph in paper. So I did. And it came out really well.
This year the brother of the guy on the first card got engaged and so another card was requested along the same lines.
The photo I was sent this time showed the new couple holding hands, standing by a pool of water. The colours were lovely and the image a strong one to work with. I did not attempt to copy every reed in the water but rather tried to give an impression of all the plants and their reflections. I dressed the couple exactly as they are in the photograph.
On the front of the card my customer wanted the short and sweet greeting 'Rafi ♥ Maggie'.
A couple of weeks after I mailed the card I received a lovely thank you message. "It [the card] came out really nicely" my customer wrote. "It was much appreciated by the young couple. You managed to capture the moment beautifully!".

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

ScaVentures in Gush Etzion

I make no secret of the fact that I love Tali Tarlow's Scavenger Hunts. I have already "hunted", with map, pack and source sheet in hand, in Jerusalem's Old City and the narrow winding lanes of Nachlaot. When Tali contacted me to tell me that she had created a new "Scaventure" in Gush Etzion, a group of communities located in the Judaean Mountains directly south of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, it was just a matter of me saving the date. There was no way I was going to miss it!
This hunt was a family affair. Unlike the other hunts which I had completed by foot, this time my whole family joined me to explore Gush Etzion by car, jumping in and out of it to find the clues and see the sites. My kids thought we were on HaMerotz LaMillion, Israel's version of The Amazing Race. It was actually our first real visit to the area and was exciting for us all to discover the ancient relics and modern settlements of the Gush. 
We started the day in Kfar Etzion, an Israeli settlement and religious Kibbutz re-established in 1967. A sound and light show told us the harrowing story of the original Kibbutz and its fall in 1948. With our hearts in our mouths we set off on our allotted route (so that the various teams driving around the area do not arrive at the same point each time), eager to learn and equally eager to have fun.
Our first stop was at the original kibbutz Masu'ot Yitzhak. Founded in 1945 by young pioneers from Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Germany, it was captured and destroyed by the Arab Legion in 1948. We stopped by the spring at Ein Yitzhak, a centre point to many hikers in the area, and the boys had time to cool off (above). We saw the water tower at the Gush Etzion regional centre and learnt the story of the Alon HaBoded, the Lone Oak, a 14 metre high oak tree which between the War of Independence (1948) and the Six-Day War (1967) was the only sign of the destroyed communities of Gush Etzion. Today it stands tall and proud and has become the symbol of the Gush Etzion regional council.
We followed Derech Ha'avot, the Patriarchs Route, which was the route frequently travelled by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as mentioned in the bible, then returned to modern times with a stop-off at the truly wonderful Pina Chama, the Cosy Place. Set up in 2001 in memory of two locals who were murdered by terrorists, Pina Chama is a refreshment station for soldiers and police serving in the area and is manned entirely by volunteers. There are usually more than 200 soldiers coming in over the course of a day and most of them say that doing miluim, or duty, in the Gush is worthwhile because of this wonderful station.
We'd been on the go for several hours and the last stop of the day at the Biyar Aqueduct was a welcome one. Torch in hand and trousers rolled up high, we entered the 2000 year old water channel built to take water to Jerusalem from springs in the Hebron hills. Using only the force of gravity, the aqueduct was an amazing engineering feat. From the entrance we followed our guide south and wiggled our way through water and mud. The youngest son was in his element!
Another Scavenger Hunt had come to an end. I think that this was perhaps my favourite... but then I say that every time! Certainly the kids had fun and they'd learnt so much along the way. Even Mister Handmade in Israel was enthusiastic!
Tali runs ScaVentures throughout the year. If you want to get in touch with her and join in for yourselves, you can contact her here.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

May the Force Be With Them

Orly and Coby receive birthday cards made by me every year. Their devoted auntie always makes sure that she knows their latest interests, even though she lives far away from them, and often sends me a long list of ideas for each card.
This year Orly turned 5. She likes Hello Kitty, Peppa Pig, ballet and learning Hebrew. You can see the first two characters from her list on the card, above, as well as some ballet shoes and the Hebrew letter Aleph. Aleph is the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet and also happens to be the letter that Orly's names begins with when written in Hebrew. I also included a little picture of the birthday girl, complete with her curly wild hair, as her aunt described it.
Coby is a whole year older and he turned 6. His passions include Lego Star Wars, especially the Battle Droids, but basically anything Star Wars was deemed correct. My youngest son helped me ascertain which important figure was which. I carefully cut out the tiny letters of the Star Wars logo and added some Lightsabers for good measure. There's a little picture of Coby too.
Coby and Orly's auntie also asked me to create a card for a friend who had recently given birth. I created a little paper portrait of the new Mum with her baby boy, below. A little blue onesie, blue socks, a bottle of milk and a cute brown bear are scattered around them. Both Mum and baby look pretty pleased with themselves.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Love Is All Around

It's time to take a break from my son's Bar Mitzvah. As well as creating things for his big day I also managed to squeeze some orders in too. Some, but not many.
A customer asked me for a wedding card in Hebrew. The request was for something "a bit unusual" but other than that I was left to my own devices. I had fun playing with hearts, swirls and colour. The bride, I was told, is quite wild. I hope this card was wild enough for her.
This customer was celebrating her 20th wedding anniversary. She asked me to create a card for her husband including a picture of their three kids, something to illustrate their married life, beginning in England and now in Israel, Judaism and, of course to add a number 20. Another request followed asking whether I could work some bars into the design. Why bars? Well apparently my customer's husband often says that he would have served less time if he'd murdered her.
This couple were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. This time I was asked to show them both on the front of the card. Kuzna loves cooking and gardening, so I showed her wearing a chef's hat, with a wooden spoon in one hand and a trowel in the other. There is a cooking pot just behind her.
Ian is a Hospital Radio DJ and loves computers, electronics and gardening too. I showed him pushing a wheelbarrow with headphones on and he is standing in front of a turntable. I have no idea whether DJ's use turntables anymore but that was the image that came to mind. There is also a computer in the background with a big 40 on the screen to mark the number of years that the couple have been married.
My customer was kind enough to email to thank me for "the great card... really imaginative... as always." He was sure that his sister and brother-in-law were going to be thrilled when they received it.
Finally, this wedding card was for an Israeli bride and groom and thus opens the Hebrew way from right to left. The groom was, unusually for Israel, going to be wearing a suit for the big day and the bride's dress apparently had a long train "like a princess".

Monday, 11 November 2013

Nadav's Album

There's more to show you from my son's Bar Mitzvah celebrations. I made him a guest book so that our guests could leave him a message or give him some good advice. Almost everyone stopped to write something and those who didn't, well you can still drop by and do so! After the party it was a lovely way to end the night reading what everyone had to say.
Once again I showed Nadav in his favourite football team's shirt and with his tallit draped over his shoulders. In fact the design of the cover matched his invitation completely. On the first page I pasted the actual invitation so that he will remember where and when it all took place in years to come! I added a football, some books and a Star of David to represent his favourite sport, his love of reading and of his faith.
The inside pages of this guest book were a little different to my usual design. Each double page had a photo of my son on it, starting from when he was a baby and ending with the way he looks today. I then embellished each photo with a little papercut image representing the things he loves. There were footballs, rollersurfers, books, math symbols and tennis rackets. I also added some religious symbols and included a Sefer Torah (a Torah Scroll containing The Five Books of Moses handwritten on parchment) and more Stars of David.
Our guests seemed to enjoy the photos and my son is thrilled with the thoughtful messages they left him. This special book will always be a lovely reminder of his Bar Mitzvah and the people who made it so special for him.
These two photos by Fly on the Wall Life Photography.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Nadav's Bar Mitzvah

I've broken my own rule and posted a picture of my eldest son. His Bar Mitzvah weekend - the weekend we have been planning for months, no, years - finally arrived you see and we have had the most incredible, whirlwind time over the past few weeks. Things are beginning to return to normal now and it seemed time to return to this little space of mine to show you what I created for his big event. This photo, showing the artwork for his Bar Mitzvah invitation, seemed the obvious thing to post here.
My son loves football and the English Premier League football club Arsenal in particular. I had to show him wearing an Arsenal shirt, football in hand, on his invitation. I kept in mind though that this was an important religious event for him and so he has his tallit, the Jewish prayer shawl worn during the morning prayers, draped over his shoulders and a matching red kippa (skullcap) on his head. In his other hand he is clutching his precious iPod. It's not all about sport you see.
My young man is rather good at maths. After our little photo session showing him with his paper look-alike, I cut out lots of little maths symbols and popped them onto the blue background box. The red number 13 represents the age that a Jewish boy becomes Bar Mitzvah. At this age, according to Jewish custom, he is considered old enough to have certain rights and responsibilities and is encouraged to fulfill as many mitzvot (commandments) as possible. (Bar Mitzvah literally translates as "son of commandment"). Finally I added a couple of books, one opening the Hebrew way from right to left, and one opening the English way from  left to right. He's a keen reader and happily jumps between both languages.
The artwork was ready and, after exhaustive research of print houses both near and far, I ordered invitations, placecards, thank you cards and Birkat Hamazon booklets (Grace After Meals) all showing my son on the front. I actually had the artwork professionally photographed rather than scanned, to give it a little depth. I am perfectly aware that most of my guests couldn't have cared less if the picture was flat or not but, hey, it made me happy!
The invitations went out and the big day drew closer. Arrangements were made, lists were drawn up and the freezer was filled to bustin'! Our guests flew in, some for just a few days and some for much longer, and suddenly this great event which we had been planning for so long was happening!
This group of four photos by Fly on the Wall Life Photography.

I am proud to say that my boy did an amazing job in the synagogue, reading the whole weekly portion of the Torah and then the Haftara, a section from the Book of Prophets. The word haftara actually means conclusion. He then gave a special sermon giving his thoughts about the portion he had just read.
Afterwards it was time to celebrate! 26 guests came to eat with us on Friday night and then 32 for Saturday lunch. Fortunately the rain held off and our garden was put to good use. Then we partied some more at a beautiful nearby moshav... and frankly now I'm a little sad that it's all over. No more lists. No more research. No more things to book. Well... not until the younger son is Bar Mitzvah anyway. I have a little time and my son has a lovely reminder, handmade by Mum, on his bedroom wall.