Sunday, 15 May 2022

Doing a Lunge

A new customer saw one of my cards that a mutual friend posted on Facebook. She messaged me to say that she loves the cards I make, could I create one for her husbands upcoming 50th birthday too? She sent me some photos of her husband and asked me to show him wearing the blue sweatshirt with the logo of the company he works for. Other things to add to the card were a basketball, a Torah (he is a baal kore - the person who reads the weekly excerpt from the Torah during synagogue services) and numbers (her husband works in analytics). Finally, she asked me if it would be possible to draw him doing a lunge.
I showed the bespectacled birthday boy in his blue sweatshirt, doing the requested lunge. I even asked his wife which trainers he wears and copied the design on them as well! Behind him is a basketball and a net and to his right is a Sefer Torah or Torah scroll, which is a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses, hand-written by a scribe in the original Hebrew. It is rolled up around two ornate wooden shafts, attached to either end of the scroll.
I added a big number 50 to mark his age. Below that is a little bar chart, a graph and a magnifying glass which represent his career in analytics. I thought that was better than random numbers!
My customer loved the card.

Thursday, 12 May 2022

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens

The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are located in the neighbourhood of Nayot in Jerusalem, on the southeastern edge of the Givat Ram campus of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The gardens were originally planned as the successor to the National Botanic Garden of Israel on Mount Scopus, which was established in 1931 and still exists to this day. In 1948, during Israel's War of Independence, access to Mount Scopus and the university campus was cut off from the rest of Israel. It was decided to create new botanical gardens on the new campus of the Hebrew University in Givat Ram in western Jerusalem. The new gardens were opened in 1954, soon after the establishment of the Givat Ram campus. 
At around 30 acres, the Jerusalem Botanical Gardens are the largest in Israel. They hold over 6,000 species and varieties of plants from around the world, which are displayed geographically. The 6 phytogeographical sections cover Southern Africa, Europe, North America, Australia, South-West and Central Asia and the Mediterranean. The sections simulate the landscapes of these areas. The gardens' Japanese section contains over 150 bonsai trees, the largest concentrated collection of bonsai trees in the world. The 500 metre long "Bible Path" is planted with most of the 70 species that scientists have identified as some of the 400 types of plants mentioned in the Bible.
The reason for our visit to the gardens was to see the augmented reality contemporary art exhibition "Seeing the Invisible", above.  It is the first exhibition of its kind to be developed in collaboration with botanical gardens around the world and is on view simultaneously at twelve different gardens. The participating gardens all present the same exhibition, but as the works are augmented into the unique surroundings and context of each garden, the exhibition is experienced differently against the backdrop of each location. 
The exhibition can only be viewed by visiting the participating gardens and through the "Seeing the Invisible" app on your phone. It features thirteen augmented reality works by established artists from various countries. By setting these digital experiences inside botanical gardens - without disturbing the environment and keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum - the exhibition explores the boundaries and connections between art, technology and nature.
We explored the botanical gardens, locating the artworks scattered throughout them. Several friends had told me that I needed to see the exhibition, so I was hopeful! However, I must admit that Mister Handmade in Israel and I both felt that we were missing out on the real beauty of the gardens because we were so busy focusing on our phones!
We were far more enamoured by the gardens Tropical Conservatory, which was first built in 1985 and reopened to the public in 2019 after a $2 million transformation that took a year and a half. The conservatory boasts approximately 300 kinds of plants - endangered plants, exotic banana trees, coffee plants, orchids and cacti - all differing in shape and colour. It is divided into two regions, the tropical region and the desert region. In the tropical region, the visitor enters a rainforest, complete with tall plants growing on even taller trees. In the desert region, the visitor is exposed to some of the world’s most unique plants and their adaptation to dry conditions. The Tropical Conservatory also houses a stream with aquatic plants growing in it and the remains of an ancient columbarium carved into the rock, dating back to the Second Temple period. The columbarium was exposed at the site during construction. Today its pigeon niches serve as natural beds for Stapelia, small succulent plants.
The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens also serve as an education, learning and research centre. They focus on nature conservation, education, and community.
The gardens serve as a safe haven for many endangered plants and contain more than three hundred other species of local plants that are endangered or are already extinct in Israel. In addition, the botanical gardens have a large seed collection, which is used for breeding plants in the garden plots and for distribution to botanical gardens around the world.
Cultural events and recreational activities are held at the gardens throughout the year. The Jerusalem Botanical Gardens run a gardening and landscape school, which operates in the botanical gardens. It trains professional gardeners and holds various courses for the general public as well.
The botanical gardens also offer a variety of social and community programs such as therapeutic gardening sessions, occupational rehabilitation, volunteer opportunities, botanical gardeners scholarship programs, guided tours, activities for senior citizens, farming and more.

Monday, 9 May 2022

Under the Sea

A lady in the US found me on Etsy. She messaged me to ask me if I could make a card for a friend’s daughter who was soon to be celebrating her Bat Mitzvah. She said that she hadn't liked any cards until she came across mine! Plus, she thought it would be extra special for the card to come from Israel.
I was happy to make one for her. 
The young lady in question loves all animals, especially cats and sea life, my customer told me. She likes music, plays the piano, dances and is in the Girl Scouts. She likes a lot of different colours: blues, purples and pinks. Her Bat Mitzvah celebration was going to have an ocean/sea life theme.
My customer sent me some photos of the Bat Mitzvah girl. I noticed that she often wears a bow in her hair and checked whether I should show her with one. My customer agreed that I should.
I showed the Bat Mitzvah girl in the centre of the card wearing a pink top and a pink hair bow. She has one arm in the air, as if she is dancing, and she is holding a cat in the other arm. Behind her is an underwater scene, with a little blue fish, a purple seahorse, an aquatic plant and a shell. Bubbles and music notes surround her. To her left are the green badges of the Girl Scouts of the USA and also the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. Lastly, I added a piano because you can always spot a piano under the sea, right?
My customer was delighted with the card and left me a wonderful review in my Etsy shop:
"I received my customized card today. I could not be happier. It is for a Bat Mitzvah so having it created especially for her (especially since her name is never on anything) and being from Israel is super special. I know she will love it. This Etsy shop was also an absolute pleasure to work with. And though international shipping takes longer, they shipped my item out very quickly and communicated well. Thank you again!"

Sticky Mud and Belly Laughs

Friday, 6 May 2022

Daniel and Eilon

When Daniel turned 15, his birthday card showed him writing music on his laptop computer. This year his mum asked me to show him playing the piano and wearing his favourite blue hoodie and ear pods. Apparently he always wears the same blue hooded sweatshirt and always has the white ear pods in his ears! Sounds like a normal 16 year old, right?
The card was well received. "Another great success!" his mum wrote to me.
Eilon, one of Daniel's younger brothers, also recently celebrated his birthday. There are five boys in their family and they ALL receive one of my cards on their big day. Mum tells me that it has become a family tradition.
Eilon was turning 7. He is still very into ninja (last year I showed him swinging from some wooden hoops in a new play area he had visited) so mum sent me a picture of him running up a warped wall. Apparently Eilon loves the photo. In the background she asked me to include some of the books from a series he enjoys as well. Of course I added a big number 7 to mark his age.
Mum was delighted with the card when she saw it, "I love it. Eilon will be thrilled!".  A couple of days later she sent me these fabulous photos of him opening his card:
"Such a perfect card! He loves it so much! He was so emotional yesterday, he was teary eyed with excitement."
Such a sweet boy!
* This post has been shared on Funtastic Friday Link Party.