Wednesday 24 May 2017

A Doting Aunt

A friend and regular customer of mine has been sending customised birthday cards to her niece and nephew in Australia for a number of years - well, almost since they were born actually. It seems that she didn't order a card for her nephew's first birthday. I hope he will forgive her for her error! She recently travelled to Australia and sent me this wonderful photo of (almost) all the cards together. It's not the best photo, but there is a lot of love in it! Her sister has carefully saved the cards and my friend put them all together for a picture. I am delighted that they are treasured. Coby and Orly have a younger sister too. I have provided links to her cards as well, though they have not been included in the main picture.
Coby: TwoThreeFourFiveSixSeven (not pictured), Eight (it seems that I forgot to blog about it!) and Nine.

Orly: OneTwoThreeFourFiveSix, Seven (it seems that I forgot to blog about it!) and Eight.

Jordy (not pictured): Birth, OneTwo and Three.

Another young lady, Aimee, was turning 12. Her grandma didn't give me a specific brief, so I simply made her a colourful card showing her age. I added some bunting, music notes, stars and a heart. 
The same grandma ordered a card for her grandson. I have been making Manchester United cards for him for several years now - he's obviously a loyal fan - and each year I try to come up with something a little bit different. It's getting hard! This time I cut out a striped scarf  in Man Utd's colours, and added the team crest and a football. The Hebrew greeting on the card says "Happy Birthday to Nadav my dear grandson".

Sunday 21 May 2017

Nahal HaShofet

The short trail at Nahal HaShofet, or the Judge's Stream, is a family friendly nature trail near Kibbutz HaZore'a in northern Israel. The circular trail, paved in part with asphalt and in part with wooden planks by the JNF (Jewish National Fund), runs along Nahal Senin - a minor tributary of Nahal HaShofet. Later on the two rivers converge. Nahal HaShofet has a continuous flow almost all year round - a rare phenomenon here in Israel - resulting from the many springs that feed it. Along the trail there are several small bridges, shaded picnic areas, and even an observatory deck overlooking a small waterfall and pool. The entire area is shaded by willows, fig trees, brambles and Field Elm (ulmus minor) - a rare tree in Israel, which grows only next to water and sheds its leaves during winter.
An interesting aside, Nahal HaShofet is named in honour of the American Judge Brandeis who was active in the Zionist movement, seeing it as a solution to antisemitism in Europe and Russia. He supported the establishment of settlements in the 1930s.
Mister Handmade in Israel and I visited Nahal HaShofet during Pesach. We decided to walk the long route, away from the crowds of families with young children, starting with the hordes on the stroller and wheelchair friendly trail along Nahal Senin, and continuing on the path along the bank where the two rivers converge. The flowing stream creates a small waterfall and a pool, and the nearby observatory deck provided us with a great view of this beautiful spot.
Our route took us past a small dam that is part of the station that monitors water flow in the stream, and past two caves. From the large cave, the crowds took the short route back to the car park, but we continued on along a winding route, crossing the river and slowly climbing uphill. Our route passed through a wooded area with beautiful blossoming flowers and proceeded towards wide-open fields. After a while, it twisted to the right, we crossed the river and eventually entered a shady and pleasant grove, at the end of which we arrived back at the starting point of the trail. There we found a place to picnic and enjoyed our Pesach picnic of matzah, chopped vegetables and boiled eggs. 
The hike had been a relatively easy one, but the fields and forests along the river were breathtaking and really made up for the shortness of it. The wild flowers were at their peak (or perhaps just a little past it) and the water in the stream was at a high level. It was a lovely way to spend a beautiful spring afternoon!

Tuesday 16 May 2017

Amazing Achievements

A regular customer of mine recently asked me to make a card for his wife for their wedding anniversary, just as he does every year. He asked me create something showing their kids and their amazing achievements this year. Their sons are both doing brilliantly. Gabi was very recently chosen to receive the Award for Excellence from the President of the State of Israel, President Ruvi Rivlin, at his home on Yom Ha'atzmaut (Israeli Independence Day). His twin brother Adi has achieved very high grades at university throughout the year, and their sister, Ella, has been picked to play netball for Israel in the 2017 Maccabiah, the third-largest sporting event in the world, which is often referred to as the "Jewish Olympics".
A high-achieving family. Dad has every reason to be proud!
I suggested showing a picture of his wife and the three kids on the card. I have shown Ella holding a netball with the Maccabiah 2017 logo on it. Next to her, Gabi has a sign saying מצטיין הנשיא (the President's Award for Excellence) with a picture of the award he received on it. He is wearing his brown Golani beret. Mum is beaming proudly between her children. Finally, Adi is holding up one of his complicated maths papers. I added a pink heart because, well, it is an anniversary card!
Her husband was the first to order an anniversary card but, as I have come to expect with this couple, his wife also called me a few days later and requested one too. It's happened before.
For this card, my customer sent me a lovely photo of her and her husband and asked me to recreate it in paper. The photo showed them sitting at a table in Milan eating pizza and drinking wine. I edited out the people in the background who had nothing to do with the picture and simply showed the couple enjoying their evening meal.
Now, at this point the story just gets silly! First of all Mizzie let it slip to her husband that she had ordered a card from me (I always play innocent and of course never discuss my customers). Then her husband happened to come home early from work on the day I popped by to deliver the card. He hadn't collected his yet either! He of course guessed why I was there.
So, there was no element of surprise when this couple opened their customised cards on the day of their wedding anniversary, though they both received quite different cards, totally unique to them.
"Thanks Lisa! The cards are amazing" Mizzie wrote to me, and her husband messaged "Thanks for the cards (both of them!!!)". Hee hee!

* This post has been shared on Seasons, The Good. The Random. The Fun., Make it Pretty MondayInspiration Monday, Amaze Me Monday, You're the StarOur World Tuesday, Pictorial TuesdayTuesdays at Our Home and Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).

Thursday 11 May 2017

Pens in his Pocket

A customer asked me to make a special birthday card for her dad. She told me that he is well known for always having coloured pens to hand, and that he's an avid book buyer too (apparently he buys books by their weight in charity shops). She asked me to show Dad with lots of coloured biro pens in his shirt pocket and to add some books as well. I cut out one or two!
The card was posted on Facebook by my customer and her mum commented that "He [Dad] loves the card".
My own dad also recently celebrated a birthday. He is very supportive of my creative business and is an avid reader of my blog. He doesn't comment on every post I write, but does occasionally drop me a line when something stands out for him. "Lisa, I love the Daria papercut card" he recently wrote, so I knew what card to make him for his big day. I changed the heart to a star and lined the card with an amber paper inlay, since Dad's football team, Hull City AFC, traditionally play in black and amber.
Finally, Eitan turned 17 back in April. His mum asked me for a card with driving as the theme since he was going to receive lessons as his birthday present. Mum liked the idea of putting an ל-plate on the card. The square plate with a blue background and white triangle pointing upwards, with the black Hebrew letter "ל" in it, from the Hebrew למידה‎ - "Learning", is the Israeli version of the L-plate. I also added a few road signs and a big yellow number 17 to mark Eitan's age, all on the background of a swirling black road. I just had to add the camel crossing road sign as it is so quintessentially Middle Eastern!

Thursday 4 May 2017

On the Edge – Israeli Paper

I visited the exhibition "On the Edge - Israeli Paper" by myself during the Pesach break. None of my family were keen to join me, but in the end I was glad to be there alone. I simply couldn't bring myself to leave the gallery space and kept going back to see my favourite pieces over and over again. If my teenage kids had been with me, they just might have been nagging me to leave!
According to the museum's website, the exhibition, the third of its kind at the Eretz Israel Museum, seeks to focus attention on paper as a medium with diverse and complex characteristics, a material that can be applied and developed in numerous creative ways. 65 artists who work in the plastic arts, product designers, graphic designers, textile designers, architects, jewellery makers and paper artists are showing their work; veteran artists who have been working in paper for a long time alongside young artists who are now taking their first steps in the world of art and design. Their works challenge the material and extend its boundaries, using the essential characteristics of paper in diverse and fascinating ways. 
Climbing the stairs to the gallery space, I was greeted by a wall-piece created by Avi Sevilya, whose work I recognised, having seen it previously at The Paper Festival back in 2013. The wall-piece is hand made from hundreds of thin rolls of newspaper, zip ties and wires which have been laboriously intertwined, and seem from afar like a magic plant or reptile. The flat paper has become three-dimensional, yet the work, in its entirety, has the air of a linear drawing. I loved it.
The installation 'Rhythm and Blues', above, was created from carbon papers in black and blue colours covering a spiral shape which floats in space. The carbon paper has been used in its entirety or taken apart into thin layers, some of which are transparent and some have texture.
'La Grande Robe' by Merav Peleg is inspired by a traditional Moroccan Jewish wedding dress from the 19th century, which passes from bride to bride in the family. Made of Fedrigoni paper, the robe comes to life with modern technology - the traditional decorative embroidery styles woven by the women have been digitally cut by Highcon, an Israeli startup company that converts manual print processes into a digital process. The words "Woman of Valour" from the biblical verses praising the virtuous women in Jewry (Proverbs 31:10-31) are also turned into a decorative pattern around the base of the dress.
One of the pieces I kept returning to was Noa Yekutieli's 'Fragmented Substance', above. The installation is part of an ongoing project 'Mountains of Narratives' focusing on the construction and deconstruction of memory and narrative. In this installation, events and stories are broken down into visual fragments, then assembled to create a new narrative.
The 200 manually cut paper pieces composing the installation are hung at eye level and are visible through their reflection upon sixty glass frames placed underneath. I photographed this piece many times until I could get some semi-decent images, though they still do not do it justice.
The organic, curving shape of 'From North Japan to the Southern Negev', top, is made from a single paper sheet. It was made using an ancient Japanese technique, using paper mulberry fibres (kozo in Japanese) from Eastern Asia. The strong braided rope which merges with the lace-like structure is made of the leatherwood shrub. The fibres of the shrub branches are used by the Bedouin in the Southern Negev to braid ropes. Here the artist has combined plants with similar traits into a single harmonious work.
The artist who created 'Within Itself', two wooden cones containing a fabric of folded papers, centre, considers this work a metaphor for an artwork being pushed into the world.
With 'Phantom Ships', above, a flight of ships in an imaginary space looks like a play of shadows or a celebration of kites in the sky. The work was inspired by descriptions of whale hunting, and the shape of the ship was drawn from engravings found on working tools and decorative objects made from the bones and teeth of the hunted whales. The piece is made from a rich variety of papers which were collected from nature, the street and the artist's home.
Another favourite of mine was 'Heirloom Seeds' by Dania Chelminsky, above. Brooches or beads shaped like shells and seeds function as a metaphor for man's interference in nature.
'Hidden Land', below, created from the Haaretz newspaper, shows an expansive area which looks liken a model of a forest or a city made of towers. Created by a jewellery designer, the artist searched for a way to endow paper with flexibility and elasticity and breathe life and movement into the piece.
These two delicate items look like bowls. Made of intertwined paper and threads, soaked in water, sewn, torn and moulded into different shapes, they represent opposing and complimentary forces (e.g. Ying and Yang).
The enormous triptych 'White Memory', below, depicts a magical, bright white forest.The work is based on a photograph of Mt. Carmel, which was taken right after the deadly fire of 2010. The burnt and sooty forest is drawn by meticulously perforating the large-scale paper surface with needles of changing thickness. The light emanating from this work highlights the perforated outlines, making it look like a jewel, in stark contrast to its grim and fraught content.
'Monarch Migration', above, is a wall-piece composed of items whose shape and arrangement evoke archival exhibitions of insects and butterfly collections in natural history museums. From afar, they look like colourful and seductive creatures, yet a closer examinations reveals that they are in fact representations of tanks, helicopters and submarines which have served in the wars of Israel throughout the years. Every item describes a specific instrument of war, and together they compose an entire arsenal. The artist inverted, duplicated, and twisted the schematic shapes of the instruments, thus defamiliarising them.
The 'Ready to Wear' necklace, top, was created by a silversmith and is constructed from triangular units made from the pages of used books. The jewellery series 'Granulation', of which this ring is just one piece, consists of a variety of rings and brooches focusing on the granulation technique, practised for thousands of years in different cultures. In this technique, the jewels are made from granules of precious metal. The granules in this collection were made from wet paper squares and glued to jewellery made from Bristol board.
The 'Persian Rug', top, another personal favourite, follows a section of the large, rich rug which covered the guestroom floor of the artist's childhood home. This Persian rug was a valued and meaningful object, which reflected the family's material culture in all its splendour. The artist distances herself from her cultural identity by "weaving" her rug from masking tape rolls painted in degrading colours, contrasting the bold colours of the original rug, and by trading the high quality material of the Persian rug for cheap materials glued into a relief.
'Epidermis', middle, a flat wall covered with paper, centre, turns paper into a soft, sculptural object with depth.
Finally, 'Grid 128', a wall-piece created by Ilan Garibi, an origami artist whose work I was also already familiar with, presents a collection of paper models representing his trademark cyclic folding method. The title - Grid 128 - represents an extreme example of the origami tessellations method, which is represented in Garibi's piece by a black hexagonal model.
It was a wonderful exhibition. This is just a sample of the incredible pieces on show. As I have already mentioned, this was the third exhibition of paper art at the Eretz Israel Museum. Of the three exhibitions, the current one is supposedly the most daring and adventurous. The big question is, how on earth did I miss the previous two?

* This post has been shared on Travel TuesdayWednesday around the WorldLittle Things Thursday, Thankful Thursday, Thursday Favorite Things, Travel Photo Thursday, Share Your Cup ThursdayCity TrippingSeasons and Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).