Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Gilad's Album

I'm always very pleased to hear from a returning customer, particularly one who wants to order her THIRD Bar Mitzvah album (the next one, if she wants one, will be for a Bat Mitzvah). I have already made albums for Adir and Omri. This time it was Gilad's turn to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah.
Mum asked me to create an album that opens the H​ebrew​ way, from right to left, and she wanted the Bar Mitzvah boy to be shown wearing tefillin. Jewish men start wearing tefillin, or phylacteries, just before their Bar Mitzvah. They consist of two leather boxes with parchment with biblical passages inside. Gilad is right-handed so he is wearing his tefillin on his left arm. He is also wearing them on his head, and the straps are hanging down over his white shirt.
Gilad, Mum told me, likes Krav Maga (the self-defence system developed for the Israel Defence Forces), playing with Rubik's Cubes, hacking cell phones, going to Scouts, drawing, cycling and playing games on his Nvidia Shield tablet.​ He is currently quite curly haired, she said, though admittedly those curls were "tamed" by the time of his Bar Mitzvah.
I added the badge of the Tsofim Datiyim (the religious Scouts) to the cover, along with a small illustration of Gilad's bike, his phone and tablet, and some paper and pencils to illustrate his love of drawing. Gilad can be seen in his white Krav Maga - I.C.F. t-shirt, playing with a Rubik's Cube.
I also cut out several light blue striped tallitot (the large sheet-like fringed prayer shawl worn during the morning prayers which some boys begin wearing for the daily prayers from the age of Bar Mitzvah) and placed them in two corners of the cover and on several pages inside the album. Some of the inside pages were also illustrated to cover Gilad's various interests.
The first page, which as a Hebrew book opened on the rightmost page (the opposite of an English book), shows some Krav Maga sparring gloves, followed by a colourful Rubik's Cube, and then Gilad's OnePlus X​ phone and Nvidia Shield tablet, above. Next I created a Scouting-themed page showing a little green tent and a campfire burning close-by. Finally I cut out a tiny blue​ bike, just as Gilad's brothers had in their albums.

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Power of Two

A customer asked me to make an anniversary card for old friends who were married in Israel but now live in the USA. They were coming to Israel to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. She wanted me to create a card showing the two of them together and illustrating the fact that their heart is still here.
I suggested a little Israeli flag and the US flag too, since it is now their home. My customer requested a palm tree too to represent the fact that the couple lived in Florida for 20 years. I added a couple of little hearts - after all, it was an anniversary card!
"Thanks Lisa, it's adorable!" my customer wrote to me.
Ori  recently turned 19. He is currently a soldier in the Israeli army, so Mum asked me to show him in his army green uniform on his birthday card. She also requested two computer screens - Ori must be a busy guy - and a picture of his redheaded girlfriend. Oh, Ori has a thing about watches too!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Yehi'am Fortress

Back in July Mister Handmade in Israel and I visited the Yehi'am Fortress National Park as part of our mini-break whilst the boys were at camp. I haven't yet blogged about it - better late than never!
The Yehi'am Fortress is located in the western Upper Galilee on the grounds of Kibbutz Yehi'am. The fortress is based on the Crusader-time Iudyn Castle, built by the Teutonic Order after 1220. Domes, walls and crenellations have survived in the fortress from those times. It was destroyed by the Mamluk sultan Baibars sometime between 1268 and 1271. The Mamluks and the Ottomans did not see fit to maintain the place and the fortress was then abandoned for some 500 years. It was then rebuilt and expanded as Qal'at Jiddin (Jiddin Castle) in the 1760's by the Bedouin ruler Zahir al-Umar, who was known as the Governor of the Galilee. A moat around the fortress was added at this time. It was destroyed again by Ahmed Jezzar Pasha around 1775. The ruined fortress, known as Khirbat Jiddin (literally "ruins of Jiddin"), was later inhabited by Bedouin tribes. In 1946 Kibbutz Yehi'am was established at the site of the fortress, the founders of the kibbutz initially living in tents among the ruins. The massive walls protected them when they were under siege during the 1948 War of Independence.
Most of the remains that can be seen at Yehi'am today - including walls, towers and the moat - were built in the 18th century by the Bedouin ruler Zahir al-Umar, though it was interesting to note the different building styles of different eras within the remains - the original Crusader structure of massive polished stone, followed by the Muslim style using smaller and poorer quality stone. The remaining buildings include a watch tower with a lookout platform, a mosque built during the period of Muslim rule, a modest bathhouse and a large vaulted hall. It is assumed that during the Ottoman period this was used as a storeroom. The first members of Kibbutz Yehi'am lived in this hall before moving to the permanent settlement. The 1948 trenches laid around the castle can also be visited. They have been restored and now tell the story of the battle which waged there.
Archaeological finds in the national park include the remains of a Roman fort, a Byzantine farm or monastery, burial caves, stones inscribed with crosses and fragments of mosaic. On top of all that, the panoramic views of Western Galilee at the top of the fortress are simply breathtaking. On a clear day you can see the northernmost coastal city in Israel, Nahariya, and the sea.
On 27th November 1946 Hashomer Hatzair groups (a Socialist-Zionist secular Jewish youth movement founded in 1913 in Galicia, Austria-Hungary) went up to the ancient fortress and settled in its gloomy halls. They called their new post Yehi'am in honour of Yehiam Weitz, son of Jewish Agency official Joseph Weitz, who had been killed in a Palmach operation that same year. According to the United Nations partition plan, the area including Kibbutz Yehi'am was not part of the Jewish state. After the declaration of the state on 14th May 1948 the kibbutz was attacked by Arab fighters. The kibbutzniks barricaded themselves between the walls of the fortress and, together with soldiers from the Haganah Field Corps who came to their assistance, overcame a two-month siege which became one of the greatest dramas of the War of Independence.
After the war, new houses were built at the kibbutz, including the first children's house. Hashomer Hatzair groups joined from different parts of Israel, as well as groups from Cuba, France, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico and Colombia. The kibbutz was privatized in 2001.
In 2008 the boutique brewery Malka Beer was established in Kibbutz Yehi'am, at the foot of the fortress. The water used to brew Malka beers comes from the Ga'aton Stream adjacent to the kibbutz. I am by no means an expert on beer but we stopped by the brewery after visiting the Yehi'am Fortress. It was a hot summer's day and a cold beer was a delicious and refreshing way to end an interesting visit. Exploring the fortress had been a fascinating experience and the views from the top - and a Malka Pale Ale - made it all the more worth the trip.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Once there was a Doctor, a Cabbie and a Lawyer...

A customer of mine asked me to create a special card for her doctor who, she told me, is amazing in every way. He talks, he listens, he never rushes. No other doc comes close, she said. So she wanted a special card to thank him.
She sent me some photos of him but already had the idea in her head that her doctor should be in the centre of the card wearing a red cape. On his shirt it had to say Dr. Flash with a lightning bolt. Around this I was asked to include a pair of lungs (definitely a first for me!), a stethoscope, and the logos for Penn Medicine and NYU School of Medicine. She also found out that her doctor loves Jameson Irish Whiskey and thought it would be fun to include that too.
"Dr. Flash" loved the card. "Thanks so much for your card. It is absolutely wonderful - best ever" he told her.
Another customer asked me to create a card for her cousin who was turning 70. He's a black cab driver in London and likes music, especially jazz. Once again I was sent a photo of the gentleman concerned so was able to create a paper portrait of him next to his cab, which has his name on the registration plate. A golden saxophone formed the letter 'J' of the word jazz and I added a few music notes too.
Finally, a regular customer received some fabulous news that her grandson had earned his Masters of Law with Distinction. She asked me to create a special card to congratulate him on his wonderful achievement. A mortar board and scroll, along with a small pile of books, clearly fitted the bill.

* This post has been shared on Blue MondaySeasons and the Good.Random.Fun.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Guy's Album

In my last post I showed you the artwork I created for Guy's Bar Mitzvah. His parents asked me to make a guest book for the celebrations too. The album/guest book I put together had the same illustration of Guy on the cover as the rest of the items printed for his Bar Mitzvah. It shows him wearing his blue Rangers shirt and his black rimmed glasses. He has a golf club in one hand (swung behind him) and a microphone in the other. An Xbox and controller are to his left, and over his shoulder is a fast car. Apparently Guy is pretty keen on Jaguars. The dark blue lettering displays his name in both English and Hebrew and the word Bar Mitzvah in English only.
There is a tallit in two corners of the cover. A Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 wears a tallit (the large sheet-like fringed prayer shawl) for morning prayer, during the week, as well as on Shabbat and other holy days. Guy's new tallit has different shades of blue stripes on it and so I tried to match the colours to the photo Mum sent me.
Inside the album I decorated several pages with a blue striped tallit, and a small illustration featuring Guy's various hobbies. The opening page featured a prickly purple thistle, the floral emblem of Scotland (Guy's Dad is from Glasgow), above.
Next I crafted a small microphone and added some music notes to represent Guy's love of singing and performing. The following page featured a fast car once again. A tiny Xbox and controller came after. Finally, instead of adding another gold club, the last page featured a golf ball and tee, with a little yellow flagstick fluttering in the distance.
I was delighted to be able to celebrate Guy's Bar Mitzvah with him here in Israel and was happy to see his album being circulated at the evening celebration, for all his family and friends to write a greeting in. Filled with special messages and good wishes for Guy, I hope this album becomes something that he will treasure in years to come.

* This post has been shared on Blue Monday and Seasons.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Guy's Bar Mitzvah

Guy lives in the UK but celebrated his Bar Mitzvah here in Israel in the summer. His Mum and Dad, dear friends of ours, were keen for me to create the artwork for his celebrations, as I had done for his sister three years earlier.
After a family Bar Mitzvah meeting, I was given a list of suggestions for the artwork. They included showing Guy with his black rimmed glasses, a Glasgow Rangers football shirt, a thistle (Dad is Scottish), a microphone and/or music notes (or anything else to represent singing and performing), his Xbox, a Jaguar car and golf. Plenty to work with!
The artwork was needed for celebrations both in the UK and in Israel, so I was asked to include Guy's name in English and Hebrew, and the word Bar Mitzvah. A date, it was decided, would only be confusing since the lucky young man was having two celebrations!
In  my sketch, and the subsequent artwork, I have shown Guy in a blue Rangers shirt, wearing his black glasses. He has a golf club in one hand (swung behind him) and a microphone in the other. The Xbox and controller are to his left, and over his shoulder is a fast car. The thistle ended up inside his Bar Mitzvah album.
Since the football shirt is bright blue, I suggested a red background and the lettering I made a darker blue to match the shirt. I added his name in both Hebrew and English and the word Bar Mitzvah in bold lettering.
Guy's parents were really pleased with my illustration and Guy himself loved it. "I can't believe how much it looks like Guy!" his Mum wrote.
Sadly I was unable to be with them for the first part of the Bar Mitzvah celebrations in the UK, but I was delighted to see this photo, below, of the beautiful table setting which included a menu and individual place cards with my illustration of Guy on them. Matching invitations and benchers were also printed. (Bencher is the most common word used for the Jewish book of Grace after Meals. The word bencher originates from the Yiddish language. Literally translated the word bencher means "Blesser".)
Guy's Mum left the following review on my Facebook business page:
"Thanks Lisa. The artwork is amazing and the likeness to Guy is incredible. I can't believe how well you get all the attributes that make up Guy and his personality into the artwork. Another success to add to your portfolio."

* This post has been shared on Blue Monday.