Friday, 30 March 2018

A March Wedding

This wedding was the reason for my recent visit to London. My friend Jude got married to her lovely partner Rich and I wasn't going to miss their big day for the world! Mister Handmade in Israel and I popped over for a long weekend and had a wonderful time celebrating with them. Of course I took a special card with me.
The 'Beast from the East' cleared up just in time for their wedding day and we all had a fabulous time. We ate well, we drank a lot, we were entertained by some great singers, and we danced the night away. This is the bride and me looking our very best!
* This evening marks the start of Pesach, or Passover, and my family and I will celebrate the Passover Seder. You can read more about it in two of my previous posts here and here. 'Chag Pesach Sameach', a happy Passover festival, to all celebrating.

** This post has been shared on Little Things ThursdayThursday Favorite Things, Share Your Cup Thursday, Anything Blue FridayWelcome To The Weekend, All Seasons and Wordless Wednesday (on Tuesday).

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Churchill War Rooms and Winnie-the-Pooh

Remember the lovely spring flowers I showed you at Tel Bet Shemesh? Well, shortly after my visit there I made a quick trip to London. There were most definitely no spring flowers blooming whilst we were there. It was freezing!
Our trips to London are usually jam-packed but our plans went awry because of the weather and it actually ended up to our benefit. We had a whole day in London with no car and thus no errands to run or people to visit. A museum day was called for!
Mister Handmade in Israel and I saw the Churchill biopic Darkest Hour, which covers Sir Winston Churchill’s uncertain first few weeks in the role of prime minister of a country poised on the brink of the second world war. We were inspired to visit the Churchill War Rooms, beneath the streets of Westminster, to see where Churchill and his inner circle directed the war. It was the perfect solution for a very cold March day, and the 90 minutes recommended for our visit soon turned into 3.5 hours! The place was fascinating.
The Churchill War Rooms is one of the five branches of the Imperial War Museum. The museum comprises the Cabinet War Rooms, a historic underground complex that housed a British government command centre throughout the Second World War, and the Churchill Museum, a biographical museum exploring the life of Winston Churchill.
Construction of the Cabinet War Rooms, located beneath the Treasury building in the Whitehall area of Westminster, began in 1938. They became operational in August 1939, shortly before the outbreak of war in Europe. They remained in operation throughout the Second World War, before being abandoned in August 1945 after the surrender of Japan.
After the war, the historic value of the Cabinet War Rooms was recognised. Their preservation became the responsibility of the Ministry of Works and later the Department for the Environment, during which time very limited numbers of the public were able to visit by appointment. In the early 1980s the Imperial War Museum was asked to take over the administration of the site, and the Cabinet War Rooms were opened to the public in April 1984. The museum was reopened in 2005 following a major redevelopment as the Churchill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms, but in 2010 this title was shortened to the Churchill War Rooms.
During our visit we viewed the cabinet room where the wartime cabinet was held, and the map room where pins were used to mark the progress of fleets across the ocean. Some sections of the map were so badly damaged by pinpricks that they had to be covered over with new material. These patch jobs can clearly be seen to this day. We saw the suite of rooms used as accommodation by Churchill, his wife and close associates, and Churchill's own bedroom, which he only slept in for three nights altogether, though he did use this room for many afternoon siestas and was famous for holding meetings there in various states of undress! A 'lavatory' with an engaged sign actually contained a secure transatlantic line for the American and British heads of state to communicate.
All the rooms are presented and furnished as they were. We got a real feeling of how busy it must have been, especially when you consider that hundreds of people lived here at any given time throughout the war. In the Churchill Museum I learnt so much about the successes, failures, trials and triumphs that made the man. The audio guides, which were included in the ticket price, allowed us to walk through at our own pace and truly enhanced our visit. Mister Handmade in Israel is not really a museum person, but he enjoyed the place as much as I did. Maybe we'll go back with the boys one day.
Our next stop was at the Victoria and Albert Museum, or the V&A as it is affectionately known. Whilst I didn't have time to explore the whole museum, or even just part of it, I did have just about enough time to go to the wonderful exhibition Winnie-the-Pooh: Exploring a Classic. Now Mister Handmade in Israel did opt out of this one, but that was fine. It gave me more time to wander through the delightful exhibition at my own speed, all the time with a big smile on my face.
The exhibition celebrates the iconic little bear and his chums, Piglet, Tigger, Eeyore and the rest, as well as of course, Christopher Robin. It features close to a century’s worth of Winnie-the-Pooh merchandise, including toys, books, clothes, and a hand-painted Christopher Robin and Friends china tea set presented to the baby Princess Elizabeth in 1926. The walls of the exhibition are lined with scores of ink and pencil drawings by E.H. Shepard, the English artist and book illustrator who worked with A.A. Milne on the books. The drawings show the care Shepard took, producing vivid sketches of real trees in Ashdown Forest, where the Milne had bought an old farmhouse, to get the setting absolutely right. The originals are from the V&A collection and are so fragile they were last displayed almost 40 years ago.
I absolutely loved the exhibition. It was good to see so many of the original drawings which brought back memories of all the Pooh stories, and it was lovely to hear people of all ages chatting, laughing and remembering their favourite books. A replica of Posingford bridge, the bridge on which Milne and his son first played the game Poohsticks, stands in the centre of the exhibition, while trees from Ashdown Forest and Winnie-the-Pooh quotes adorn the walls. Small visitors can climb a narrow flight of steps leading to a slide, and enter Owl’s tiny door with the brass bell labelled "RNIG ALSO".
The exhibition was designed by RFK Architects and the theatre designer Tom Piper. Piper created the installation of thousands of ceramic poppies made by the artist Paul Cummins, which filled the moat of the Tower of London to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war. It left me with a warm fuzzy glow of nostalgia. Even with all the snow on the ground outside.
California Globetrotter
Budget Travelers Sandbox
Sunday Snap
Sundays In My City

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Talia's Album

It's always exciting to receive orders for pieces that are going to travel quite far, so I was very happy when a potential customer from Scotland contacted me about an album for her daughter's Bat Chayil. (Bat Chayil means 'daughter of valour' and is an Orthodox Jewish ceremony. It takes place in Orthodox synagogues at a date close to the girl's 12th birthday. The girl will give a talk on a Jewish topic, but not during the Sabbath service.)
"I love your guest books!" my new customer wrote to me. "Our daughter’s Bat Chayil is on 16th February. Would you be able to make us one in time to ship to Scotland?" Of course I could!
My customer sent me a few details about her daughter, Talia. She enjoys drama club, music, makeup, playing the violin and, of course, her friends. She also has a black cat called Sooty. The colour scheme for the Bat Chayil celebration was to be purple and lilac (definitely the Bat Mitzvah colours of the moment, check out these recent albums here and here). I had plenty to work with!
I have shown Talia with her violin under her chin and Sooty the cat in her other arm. To the left are some theatre masks to illustrate her interest in drama, and to the right are a mix of music notes and some makeup. The date of Talia's Bat Chayil appears at the top of the papercut illustration, and her name and the words Bat Chayil are at the bottom. The background box is purple and Talia's t-shirt lilac, to match the colour scheme of her Bat Chayil celebration. A Magen David in two corners of the album, surrounded by purple and lilac too, add a Jewish element to the design.
I decorated several pages inside the album along the same themes. Each page had a Magen David (Star of David) on it. From the top you can see the drama page, then a page with a tiny eyeshadow palette, lipsticks and a brush. Next, the cat makes a reappearance, while some colourful music notes decorate the next page. Finally I added a miniature violin and bow, which I can tell you took me quite some time to create!
My customer left me the most wonderful five star review in my Etsy shop. It seems that she was pleased with her daughter's album:
5 out of 5 stars
"This seller was wonderful to deal with! It was so easy to discuss the personalisations we were looking to add to the guest book. The book was shipped really quickly, with no issues at all. The end result was really beautiful, is of a very high quality and was admired by everyone signing and adding photographs to it at my daughter’s party."

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Ilan's Bar Mitzvah

Ilan celebrated his Bar Mitzvah back in February. His auntie ordered a card for the Bar Mitzvah boy. She sent me some pictures from his pre-Bar Mitzvah photo shoot and I carefully matched his hairstyle to create a paper portrait of the young man wearing his new tallit (a Jewish boy who has reached the age of 13 wears a tallit for morning prayer, during the week, as well as on Shabbat and other holy days) and his kippa. I added a Sefer Torah and some tefillin as well.
The Sefer Torah, or Torah Scroll, contains The Five Books of Moses that were given by G-d to Moses on Mount Sinai, and include within them all of the biblical laws of Judaism. It is meticulously written by an expert scribe on parchment (animal skin) and is kept in the ark of the synagogue and taken out to be read during services. A boy is called up to read from the Sefer Torah on the first occasion that the Torah is read following his 13th birthday. Tefillin are cubic black leather boxes with leather straps containing four hand-written texts from the Bible, which Orthodox Jewish men wear on their head and their arm during weekday morning prayer. Jewish boys start wearing tefillin just before their Bar Mitzvah.
Finally, I added Ilan's name in Hebrew letters and the number 13 to mark his age.
Ilan's auntie also requested a card for the parents of the Bar Mitzvah boy. I recreated the street-art style logo from his Bar Mitzvah invitation and once again added some Jewish symbols and religious objects: a Torah scroll, a Star of David or Magen David, a blue and white striped tallit and some tefillin.
My customer told me that both cards were very well received. She was kind enough to leave the following review on my Facebook business page:
"I just ordered two more cards for my nephew on his Bar Mitzvah and for my brother... [It] was truly amazing how Lisa took photos, both with my husband previously and my nephew now, and made such great copies."