Thursday, 29 July 2021

Making Music

Last year Benji and Daniel were obsessed with Fireman Sam, or Sami HaKabai as he is known in Hebrew, and in fact a fireman was mum's first request for their 5th birthday cards this year too. I reminded her that it had been last year's theme, so mum put her thinking cap on and decided that I should show the twin boys with the musical instruments they had recently received as gifts from their grandparents.
I showed Benji with his toy accordion. Apparently it isn't too hard to learn the accordion. With daily practice, you should start to get comfortable in about 3 or 4 months. Maybe Benji is well on the way to being an accomplished accordionist by now 😉
Daniel received a toy guitar from his grandparents. I hope he has been practising too! His card also showed him with his new instrument. I added a big number 5 to mark their age on both cards and some balloons and notes too, to continue with the musical theme.
Mum sent me these lovely photos, top and below. Both boys look pretty happy with their cards!

Monday, 26 July 2021

Claret and Sky Blue

Martin recently turned 50. His wife asked me to make him two special cards to mark the day. Her first request was for a large card covering the themes of West Ham United F.C., running, tennis and music. I made a card for Martin with a West Ham theme back in 2014. This time I showed him in their 2020/21 kit.
I showed Martin running on his card. He is showing support for his favourite football team by wearing their shirt. Behind him is his yellow and black tennis racket (I copied the colours from a photo his wife sent me!). Some notes represent Martin's love of music.
In front of him is the West Ham United crest showing a pair of crossed hammers. West Ham were formed as the Thames Ironworks Football Club in 1895. The club later became West Ham United. The hammers emblem was inspired by the team's nickname, the Hammers, which was derived from the hammers used by the Thames Ironworks shipbuilders.
Martin's wife loved the card and shared it on Facebook, saying "Thank you to the amazing Lisa Isaacs for once again creating a fantastic birthday card."
I also made a second card for Martin, this time from his kids. I wanted to create something totally different to his other card, so decided to make him a papercut one. I carefully cut out a big 50 to mark his age and added the name "Abba" (Abba means father in Hebrew) and some bunting. Those of you in the know will see that I still couldn't resist returning to the West Ham theme. The paper inlay is claret and the envelope was sky blue, to match the house colours of Thames Ironworks, adopted by the team in the early 1900s and now the official colours of the West Ham United F.C. team.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Lots of Love

A new customer asked me to make a card for her husband for their wedding anniversary. After throwing a few ideas around, she decided that the card should show the two of them with the background being a mix of London, where the couple were originally from, and Israel, where they now live.
She sent me some photos and I created their paper portraits, making sure to add my customer's black sunglasses which she says she wears all of the time and just a touch of grey in her husband's dark hair. The pictures behind them show London's Big Ben and Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock. My customer also requested some hearts on the card. She got them in abundance!
It seems that she was delighted with the card. "I LOVE IT !!!! Thank you so so much!" she wrote to me, then added this wonderful review on my Facebook business page:
"Just received the card I ordered. It's fabulous. Lisa you did a great job and the turn around was so quick. Will definitely be ordering more! Highly recommend ordering from here."
Another customer asked me for a wedding anniversary card too. She wanted one of my papercut designs to mark her and her husband's 21st anniversary. I suggested this design to her, which she liked. She chose a pale blue paper inlay, which is her favourite colour.
"Looks lovely!" she wrote to me.

Monday, 19 July 2021


Lifta was an Arab village on the outskirts of Jerusalem. In 1948, during Israel's War of Independence, it was abandoned and its inhabitants fled to East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In the 1950s Jewish families, who were new immigrants from Yemen and Kurdistan, were resettled in the village. These families were evacuated by the State of Israel in 2017 and were the last inhabitants of Lifta. In the 1980s Lifta was declared a municipal nature reserve. The numerous original dwellings, spring and agricultural terraces scattered across the steeply sloping site now serve as a reminder of an architectural and agricultural culture that was prevalent in the Middle East for thousands of years.
The abandoned Arab village has been identified with the biblical Mei Neftoach. Mei Neftoach is mentioned in the Bible as the border between the Israelite tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The spring is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as delineating the northern border of the tribe of Judah: "The outcome of the lottery for the tribe of the Children of Judah.... The border proceeded directly from the top of the mountain to the spring of Mei Neftoach and broadened to the cities of Mount Ephron." (Joshua 15:9).
Ruins have been found at Lifta dating back to the First Temple period (1006-506 BCE). It was inhabited in the Roman, Byzantine and Crusader periods. The remains of a courtyard home from the Crusader period can still be seen in the centre of the village, though the extensive remains visible today mostly date from the late Ottoman era. They include several olive oil presses, flour mills, a mosque and maqām (Islamic shrine).
Common Caper, צלף קוצני
In 1917 Lifta surrendered to British forces, who ruled over the land from 1917 until May 1948. The population remained all Muslim, though some villagers sold land to Jews that became the neighbourhood of Romema. During the 1929 Palestine riots inhabitants of the village actively participated in the robberies and attacks on nearby Jewish communities.
Following the United Nations' 29th November 1947 vote to partition Palestine, the village served as a base from which attacks were launched against the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem highway and Jewish neighbourhoods. The Irgun and Lehi carried out reprisal raids on a cafe in Lifta and along the fringes of the village and by early February its inhabitants had fled. However, the deserted houses of  the village were left untouched, perhaps because of the difficulty of clearing the hillside and its location near the 1949 armistice line (the Green Line).
Following the war, the Jewish Agency and the State of Israel settled Jewish immigrants from Yemen and Kurdistan in the village. Ownership of the houses was not registered in their name. Living conditions in Lifta were difficult due to the buildings that were in poor repair, poor roads and transport, and lack of electricity, water and sanitation infrastructure. By 1969-71 most of the Jewish inhabitants of Lifta chose to leave and, over time, drug addicts moved into the abandoned buildings, which were then deliberately vandalised by the Israel Police to discourage squatters. Holes were drilled in the roofs of the evacuated buildings to make them less habitable. Only 13 families, who lived in the portion of the village close to Highway 1 and who didn't suffer from transportation issues, chose to remain.
Some of the buildings in the village were later used as a drug abuse rehabilitation centre, a high school and an open education school. In the 1980s Lifta was declared a nature reserve under the auspices of the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. 
In 2004 plans were announced to build new housing and renovate the old stone buildings into luxury villas. Former residents and archaeologists brought a legal petition to preserve the village as a historic site. In 2012 the plans were rejected by the Jerusalem District Court. Meanwhile, some of the Jewish residents of Lifta, who were settled there by the Jewish Agency in the 1950s but never received property rights, were ordered expelled without compensation to facilitate the widening of Highway 1. After a long campaign against the eviction, they were able to prove that they were not squatters and that the state had been remiss by not offering Lifta's Jewish families an opportunity to purchase their homes.
By 2017 the last Jewish residents had left the village. In 2020 a boutique hotel opened there in a newly restored centuries-old building. The spring in the centre of the ruined village has been landscaped as a popular swimming hole turned mikveh and the area has become a natural and rich habitat for many plants and animals, some protected and endangered. 55 out of the 450 pre-1948 stone houses are still standing.
Lifta remains the last remaining Arab village in Israel that was abandoned in 1948 to have not been either completely destroyed or re-inhabited. It has been referred to as the "Palestinian Pompeii". Due to its uniqueness and importance, in 2015 it was added to Israel's tentative list of sites to be considered for UNESCO's World Heritage List. It survives as a rare place of heritage, recreation and memory for those who wish to visit it.
As an interesting aside, when Lifta was an Arab village it was among the wealthiest communities in the Jerusalem area, and the women were known for their fine embroidery. Thob Ghabani bridal dresses were sewn in Lifta. They were made of ghabani, a natural cotton covered with gold colour silk floral embroidery produced in Aleppo. The sleeves were tapered and the sides, sleeves and chest panel of the dress were adorned with silk insets. The dresses were ordered by brides in Bethlehem. The married women of Lifta wore a distinctive conical shaṭweh headdress, that was also worn in Bethlehem, Ayn Karim, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour.