Sunday, 31 January 2010

A Saracens Fan

The boy celebrating his Bar Mitzvah on this occasion is a Saracens fan. I now know that the Saracens are a professional rugby union team based in St. Albans, England. It made a nice change to be creating a rugby card, rather than my usual football! Once again it was requested that I personalise the card with his favourite team but also add a Jewish element to it, so I have illustrated the Bar Mitzvah boy playing his favourite sport, dressed in his favourite team's colours but also wearing the traditional kippa (skullcap).
I also created some more traditional cards for the rest of his family. His parents and grandparents received 'Handmade in Israel' cards, below, depicting a Bar Mitzvah boy, Star of David and Torah scroll and tallit (prayer shawl).
Last week my nephew in London celebrated his birthday. It is sometimes hard to know how to illustrate a card for a 17 year old boy, and especially one whom I have created cards for many, many times before. I know that he is a table tennis player and a keen Arsenal supporter, so a colourful card with a bat and football was put together.
Today is the last day of the Etsy Greetings Team's Valentine's Day promotion. Terri of Cards and Moore by Terri, who has worked really hard pulling this promotion together, kindly included my Pack of 5 Valentine's Day Cards in an Etsy Treasury, seen below in the centre of the bottom row. They were in great company, and if you haven't yet searched Etsy for the perfect card, why not drop by now and purchase a card? Search "egvdpromo" on Etsy to find stunning handmade cards, made by some incredibly talented people.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

All You Need Is Love

It seems that the theme for my blog post today is LOVE. Hearts and flowers abound in preparation for a wedding and Valentine's Day.
My first card was created for a young couple who were married this week. I was asked to make a card with "something traditional" on it. The colour of the wedding invitation was cream with a mink coloured ribbon across the front of it, so I attempted to carry this through into the overall colour scheme of their customised card.
I have explained previously the religious significance of the wedding canopy and candles that I have depicted. Please go to my post A Jewish Wedding if you would like a refresher. I simplified my design a little on this occasion, enlarging some elements and adding the bow to match the invitation that the couple's guest had received. I hope that they liked their card.
I am currently participating in the Etsy Greetings Team's Valentine's Day promotion. The cards that I have included in the team's collection are some old favourites of mine. These sweet heart cards, above, are available as a pack of five in my shop. Buy them during the period of the Etsy promotion, from now until 31st January, and receive matching tags as my gift to you.
While of course I'd suggest that my pack of heart cards are absolutely perfect for your Valentine needs, and for many other occasions throughout the year, it's possible that they just aren't your favourites. For other ideas search "egvdpromo" on Etsy to find more beautiful handmade cards, made by some incredibly talented people. Lastly, thanks to a kind team member on another Etsy team that I belong to, Etsy Chai, one of my cards was featured on the online magazine Michal's Tefillin, in a piece about unique wedding accessories. It was a pleasure to see one of my wedding card designs there amongst some beautiful jewelry and ketubot (in Jewish weddings, this is the wedding contract between the bride and groom).
Don't forget to check out the great Valentine's Day cards with specials now!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Warning! This post contains many calories.

The number one thing I request if someone is coming to visit us from the UK is English chocolate. The food is good here in Israel. We eat well. Israel's dairy produce is wonderful and her citrus fruits are sweet and plentiful, but when it comes to chocolate, nothing, in my opinion, compares to the chocolate from 'the old country'.
It seems that others think the same way too. The customised card above was taken back to the UK to be given to a grandma who always arrives here with a plentiful supply of English chocolate for her children and grandchildren. I have illustrated grandma arriving with an over sized bar of chocolate, and the kids in the background already tucking into a bar or two. Lucky them!
My youngest son's birthday celebrations continued long after my last post. We took 14 boys for bowling and pizza at the end of last week and fun was had by all. I have already mentioned that my son loves the scary things in life and was quite insistent that he wanted a ghost birthday cake for his party, decorated with yet more "scary things". This little ghost actually looks quite cute and not so frightening, and I must admit that one of the young guests thought that it was an ish sheleg (snowman), but my son was happy with his cake and I enjoyed making it for him.
My weekend ended well with a thrilling e-mail from Studio Haus. Firstly I was delighted to see my Little Penguin Papercut Picture feature in an Etsy Treasury recently, above, and then last week I received the e-mail from Adrienne at Studio Haus telling me that my Little Penguin was to be featured in her blogs weekly 'Favs Contest', below. And guess what? It won! My papercut picture received many positive comments and is to be featured in Studio Haus's shop announcements until next weeks contest. Please pop over here and leave a comment and if anyone is interested in purchasing my penguin picture, it is available in my shop.
Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Seven

This card may well look rather chaotic and bursting with energy but it matches the personality of the boy who received it today to a T! Today my youngest son turned 7 and whilst he didn't stipulate what should be on his card this year, as he has in the past, I knew exactly how to illustrate it.
My son has great plans. When he grows up he wants to be a scientist. Not only a scientist, but a scientist who travels to the moon and deep down under the sea, thus the spaceman and his rocket and a diver and fierce shark. Along with all his dreams and plans, my youngest has many weird and wonderful hobbies. He is an avid reader and loves to draw and is fascinated with the scary things in life, so I added a couple of bats and a mummy into the design too. He also loves the animated series Ben 10 and is shown wearing the shirt and holding some 'scientific potions'.
Last night two of his friends slept over and were here to help him celebrate his birthday this morning. We ate cupcakes with ghosts, spiders and snakes on them yesterday and this morning breakfast was followed by yet another scary cake! I hope that they all settle down at school today after all that sugar...
Happy Birthday to my amazing 7 year old. May all your dreams and great aspirations come true.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

A New Product

At the end of December I mentioned that I had some exciting projects in hand. I am very happy to be able to reveal one of them now!
Last month a friend, whose son was soon to be celebrating his Bar Mitzvah, called and asked me whether I make personalised albums for parties. I was initially hesitant because I wasn't sure what she wanted but after chatting with her I realised that she was keen on my style of illustration and wanted a simple album decorated with my papercut artwork. After discussing the boy's interests and hobbies I soon set to work and what fun I had!
The Bar Mitzvah boy has many hobbies. He is a keen sportsman and plays basketball and squash amongst other sports. He gained his yellow belt in judo, plays the harmonica and loves riding on his skateboard. It was also requested that I include some appropriate Bar Mitzvah images.
My initial sketch for the cover came together very quickly and I managed to include many of the boy's interests in one little character. Thus we have the skateboarding, squash-playing, harmonica-playing boy in his judo suit, ready for his Bar Mitzvah, wearing the customary tefillin, or phylacteries (from the Ancient Greek phylacterion, meaning "to guard, protect"). I must admit that I got very carried away with the illustration of these tefillin and wanted all the details to be as accurate as possible.
Tefillin are a set of small cubic leather boxes painted black, containing scrolls of parchment inscribed with verses from the Bible, with leather straps, and worn by observant Jews during weekday morning prayers. One box, wrapped around the arm seven times, is known as the shel yad, literally "for the hand", and the other, laid on the head, known as the shel rosh, "for the head". About a month before his Bar Mitzvah, a boy will receive his own pair of tefillin and is taught and trained about the laying of them. The tefillin are worn on your weaker arm so, after discovering that our Bar Mitzvah boy was left-handed, I put them on his right arm.When my sketch of the boy, along with his name in Hebrew and Bar Mitzvah age, was ready, I scanned it and e-mailed it to my friend. It was at this point that the little turtle was requested. Our boy has a small collection of them and also a couple of pet turtles living in the garden. I then set to work designing some of the inside pages of the album, with the intention of repeating some of the icons from the front cover and using them as individual illustrations inside.
I used the tallit (the Jewish prayer shawl often worn by boys from the age of Bar Mitzvah) as a repeat icon and added a basketball, Torah scroll, tefillin and another cute little turtle into the mix!
Finally, I sprayed the whole album with an acrylic sealer to protect it from sticky fingers at the party and it was ready! The Bar Mitzvah boy apparently loves the album. I had a great time creating it and, after my first experiment, I have a new product to add to the range of work that I offer. Everybody's happy!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Titura

It was unseasonably warm this last weekend and my youngest son asked whether we could go for a walk to a local hiking spot within our city, Titura Hill, or Giv'at ha-titura.
Titura Hill, an archaeological site in the heart of Modi'in, dates back to the First and Second Temple periods. On the site is a Crusader-era fortress and, with it's rare flowers and grassy areas, the hill is perfect for picnicking and exploring. Pottery with impressions of a cross, as well as pottery with the Hebrew letters yud, hey and daled (indicating a Persian Jewish community’s presence) has been discovered there and the ancient water cisterns create perfect conditions for the flowers and plants to blossom.
The photos above are just a small sample of some of the beautiful flowers and plants we spotted there. The anemones, cyclamen (the national flower of Israel) and almond trees were in full bloom and we had a wonderful time wandering off the paths, though careful to avoid stepping on the flowers, to see what we could find.
Though Titura hill is of significant archaeological value, there is a constant threat from the Housing Authority to build on the hill. My son and I love it up there and so I pray that this will never happen. We are very lucky to have this wonderful green area on our doorstep and I really hope that the entire area will be preserved for many years to come.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Facebook, make-up and a spot of baking

I know that it's not such fun to actually live with after a few days, but I am really enjoying looking at all the photos of the snow falling in parts of the world other than my own! Here in Israel the weather is decidedly springlike today, which is obviously very pleasant but not so great for our small country with it's massive water shortage. Anyhow, that's a whole other story. In the meantime I have some new cards to show you and a spot of baking too.
The cards above were very straightforward requests for, from top to bottom, a friend celebrating a 40th birthday, birthday greetings for Grandma and a birthday card for a teenage girl who is into the "usual teenage girl stuff – facebook, make-up etc."
I've also been doing a little baking recently. The Victoria Sponge Cake, above, was greeted with mirth by my husband who announced that no-one makes them anymore and that it was a cake made in school home economics classes many years ago. He may well be right but it was a light and buttery cake and we enjoyed it all the same! The carrot cake, below, was requested by my youngest son. He had enjoyed listening to a story somehow based on carrots in his library class at school and came home with a recipe sheet that he had decorated in the class. He was very keen to help me make the cake so that he could taste it, though of course when it actually came down to it, I ended up making the cake by myself. It came out beautifully, although was enjoyed more by the adults in the family than the kids. I wrapped a slice in some foil and put it in my son's school bag to take to the school librarian as a bit of fun, but of course he forgot about it and my delicious cake was returned home somewhat flatter at the end of the school day!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Boys and their Toys

My first post of 2010 and one for the boys!
Many of the birthday cards that I am asked to make for men are football related. I have mentioned before that I have become quite an expert on the football shirts of the different English Premier League teams and that my husband is often quite taken aback at my ability to name the team he is watching on the television simply because I have created a card with that shirt design on it! Nevertheless, I have recently made some customised cards for guys that include hobbies and interests other than football.
First up, I was asked to produce a birthday card for the hairdresser of a friend's father. I was informed that his interests aside from hairdressing include cycling and photography and that he was to celebrate his 65th birthday in November. I hope that he liked the card that illustrated all these various activities.This next card was for a special grandson who turned 18 in November. Apparently he wishes to be inducted into the Navy Seals in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), so I added their logo to the card along with an illustration of a ship at sea. I hope that his wishes come true.
Lastly, a football related card had to appear in the end! This card travelled all the way to India, to be given to the eldest son of a good friend of mine who is "really into soccer"... and wears a blue cap everywhere he goes. My sweet friend over there is very supportive of my card business and asked me to create customised cards for all the men in her family. I sent her a package with cards for her three boys and her husband, and the eldest boy's birthday was the first one up. I will show you the rest over the next few months, as the dates of their birthdays pass, but let's just say I had great fun creating them and enjoyed illustrating the various hobbies that the boys have.
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