Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Elton hadn't cancelled

My boys finished school today for two whole months. Here in Israel the summer holidays are known as the Hofesh HaGadol (literally meaning "the big holiday"), and by some parents as the Onesh HaGadol ("the big punishment"!). I am quite happy with the idea that we don't have to wake up at 6:30am in time for school for a while, though the boy's presence at home does have quite a dramatic effect on my ability to craft! I'm pleased to say that I have quite a backlog of handcrafted paper goodies to show you though, so there won't be a lack of blog posts, even if there is a lack of work going on! Last month the husband of one of my regular customers celebrated his birthday. He is the Marketing Director at Strauss Group Ltd., the second largest food and beverages company in Israel. The company was about to unveil a 3D advertisement for the Milky 3 chocolate pudding, the first ever 3D commercial to be broadcast on Israeli television. It seems that the birthday boy was quite excited about this new advert and very specific requests were made about his card (above). I had to show his kids wearing their red and blue 3D glasses, awaiting the new advert. In the middle I created a paper version of the Milky pudding itself, and the kids are armed with a spoon, ready to dig in. Because the recipient of the card is the Marketing Director of the company in question, I decided that for once there would be no problem with me using their logo in my design! Above and below you can see yet more treasuries that I have been fortunate enough to have had my work included in. Both show different sets of my Bar and Bat Mitzvah cards, above, top right, and below, middle row on the left. The Bar Mitzvah cards below in fact appeared in no less than three treasuries recently! It is very nice to receive that little bit of recognition and the extra publicity that comes with it. Both of these card sets are available in my shop.
Finally, nothing to do with the arts and crafts world, but exciting all the same. Look who I went to see in concert a few days ago! Sir Elton John had been lobbied not to appear in Israel but I am happy to say that he didn't let down his fans. “Shalom, we are so happy to be back here! Ain’t nothing gonna stop us from coming, baby! ” he declared to 50,000 fans at the Ramat Gan stadium near Tel Aviv. The show was a great success. Sir Elton entertained us with many of his greatest hits. We sang. We danced. A great night was had by all. Elton had actually turned up, something of a novelty in the last few weeks, following a string of politically inspired cancellations. "Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together." he said. " That's what we do. We don't cherry-pick our conscience."

Friday, 25 June 2010

A Brit Abroad

My husband is most definitely not an English football hooligan. Unfortunately I seem to have made him look like one on his birthday card this year! The thing is, with his fair skin and receding hairline, he does have to be careful in the hot Israeli sun and therefore always wears this rather stylish floppy hat. Along with his passion for football, and Arsenal in particular, he does tend to look at times rather like a Brit abroad!
Last year I illustrated my hubby hiding behind the newspaper. He still reads the papers a lot - particularly the sports papers mailed all the way from the UK by his Dad and Dad-in-law! He also likes to watch rather a lot of television and I have teased him by illustrating a lovely big LCD flat screen television on his card. Let's just say that our set does not look like that!
Henry the hamster has popped into view, as he always does with our family cards, and how could I not fly the St. George's flag at the moment? C'mon England!
Happy 46th Birthday to my lovely English hubby. I hope you enjoy your special day.
Cake anyone?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Monkey Business

I am fortunate that my little business keeps on ticking over nicely. Though my Etsy shop serves me well as an online gallery for my work, it must develop a little more for me to be able to rely on it alone. Therefore I was delighted when I recently received a convo from a prospective customer with an enquiry about my Monkey Papercut Picture.
The customer wrote to tell me that she had recently moved house and was in the process of decorating her children's bathroom "in all things monkey". She had decided that my papercut picture would look cute hanging in there but wanted to know if I would consider changing my colour scheme a little to the same colours as the monkeys that she already had in the bathroom. She even provided me with a link so that I could see what colours her monkeys were!
Tweaking the colours of my artwork a little was of course not a problem for me, and I even adapted the style of some of the leaves to match too. My customer wrote to tell me that she loved the picture and I assume that by now it has been hung in it's new home, amongst all the other monkey paraphernalia in her kids' bathroom!
A few posts back I mentioned that I have been fortunate enough to have had my work included in quite a number of Etsy Treasuries recently. Without wishing to fill up this blog with too many treasury screenshots, but all the same being thrilled to have my work included in them, I will display just a couple more for now. Below, you can see the very first appearance in a treasury of my Jewish Boy's Treasure Box, middle row, second right, and below that, my Purple Cupcake Notebook, bottom row, second from the left. With so much to choose from in the world of Etsy it is always a great thrill to discover that my work has been picked out for inclusion in a treasury. For those of you doing a little shopping whilst browsing those treasuries, both of these items are currently available in my Etsy Shop.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

The delightful world of paper cutting

Last Friday I was lucky enough to participate in a workshop held by Zipora Neeman, a paper cut artist and teacher who creates the most beautiful traditional Jewish paper cuts. Her workshop took place at Limmud, a conference based on the theme of Jewish learning and held for the first time in my home city of Modi'in. I was delighted to discover Zipora's workshop on the itinerary and was excited to have a go at something quite new to me.Zipora outlined the history of the craft of traditional paper cutting, which can be traced back to the 14th century in Spain. Afterwards we chose which template we wished to base our designs on and set to work. Zipora is a retired school teacher, which was very apparent in the way she instructed us. She checked each and every stage that we worked on and we were certainly not allowed to rush ahead in case obvious mistakes were made. Everything was very clearly explained, of course making it all seem so simple! It would be nice to tell you that what you can see here is all my original work. Well, I did create this particular paper cut, and am indeed very proud of it, but it is based on Zipora's design of a hamsa - a symbol or talisman used by both people of Islamic and Jewish faiths, thought to ward off the evil eye and offer protection from the hand of God.
We were shown how and where to create the intricate design inside the hamsa's outline; where to add a line or a curve, leaves, pomegranates and birds. My finishing touch, Zipora's suggestion, was to hand cut the Hebrew letters חי inside the Star of David. The word chai, spelt by these two letters, means "living" and also appears in the slogan "`am yisrael chai!" ("The people of Israel live!").
I won't tell you that my finished paper cut, below, looked terribly different from those of the other participants, who were of varying ages. However, I can tell you that it was a great workshop to participate in. It was fascinating to learn how to create a simple paper cut and my head is bursting with ideas of my own now! Thanks Zipora.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Tel Afek

My Dad is really quite familiar with Israel yet during his recent visit we did manage to find a new and fascinating place that he had not been to before - The Yarkon National Park, east of Tel Aviv. In the park you can find the remains of the biblical city Afek and the ancient city of Antipatris from the Roman and Byzantine era.
After a simple picnic in the park area and the obligatory dipping of feet - or if you are my youngest son, your whole clothed body - in the nearby streams, my boys' favourite place to visit in the park is the Ottoman Fortress, built in 1571 atop the ancient mound of Tel Afek. On the eastern slope of the mound is the British Mandate pumping station, from which Yarkon spring water was once channeled to Jerusalem.
The biblical city of Afek was clearly an important place. The Bible says that the Philistines gathered there before a decisive battle against the Israelites in the 11th century BCE. In the Roman era, Herod the Great built the city he called Antipatris. Remains of the Roman main street, with worn tracks from the cart wheels, can be seen in the area.
My youngest son had visited the park not long before with his school and took it upon himself to be our guide. He took his responsibilities very seriously and we were all impressed with what he knew about the place. And what he didn't know, he made up!
As is nearly always the case when we visit Israel's National Parks, a delightful afternoon was had by all. The mix of a picnic, water for paddling and a little history is almost always a great success.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Winging its way to the USA

Not long ago I was delighted to receive an order for a customised birthday card from a longtime reader of my blog. Laurie quite often leaves me some lovely comments and therefore I was pleased when she e-mailed me from Colorado, in the United States, to ask me whether I would consider making a card for her son's 13th birthday. I was of course very happy to oblige.Because Laurie follows my crafting antics on my blog, she already knew exactly how I work. I soon received an e-mail from her attaching a couple of photographs of her son and telling me what his interests are. Benjamin plays the trumpet and is a boy scout. He likes his new iPod touch and the long-running BBC television science-fiction series Dr. Who. He also has a Beagle and a yellow Labrador Retriever.
The e-mail that I received from Laurie once the card had arrived was probably one of the nicest that I will ever find in my inbox. With her permission I have copied it below.
"Oh Lisa - the card arrived today and it is just SO perfect in every way! I just got goosebumps looking at it - it's adorable! I am going to frame it after his birthday! You did such a great likeness of Ben and his Scout uniform - it is just priceless! And the dogs! And everything else! It is so special. I'm so happy I ordered this from you! THANK YOU SO MUCH!"
Laurie also blogged about my creation. If you wish to read a little more about the birthday boy and his card, please visit her blog.
Yesterday we enjoyed a celebration of our own. My husband and I were marking 12 years of marriage and I am lucky enough to have a wonderful partner who does not forget these occasions! Mid-morning the doorbell rang and I was delighted to be on the receiving end of these gorgeous roses. I had to share them with you in all their glory. In the top corner of the photograph you can just peek at the anniversary card I made for my husband. I had fun illustrating myself with my mass of dark curly hair, holding a big red heart. Just to prove that no-one is perfect though, my husband did manage to point out that I had been kind to myself and had missed out all the grey 'highlights' in my hair!
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Update
A few days ago I wrote a post for the EtsyChai Jewish Street Team blog about a recent family visit to a kibbutz in northern Israel. It has now been posted and if you wish to read about it, please visit here.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Bat Mitzvah

I created this Bat Mitzvah album some time ago and have been patiently waiting to show it here. Like always, I waited for the date of the celebration to pass to be sure that the recipient had received it before I displayed it, and then my own birthday and my father's visit got in the way! I am excited to show it to you now and hope that it was worth the wait.
Lauren is a young lady in the UK who has just celebrated her Bat Mitzvah. I was asked to create an album for her with a cover that reflects all of her various hobbies and interests. Apparently she is very into sport - particularly netball and lacrosse - loves to read, listen to music and, like many girls her age, is into arts and crafts and sewing and clothes. It was also requested that I add some kind of Jewish element into the design, since the album was after all being created to commemorate a Jewish ceremony.
I tried hard to incorporate everything into the cover design! Any hobbies that were left off the front cover were included on the inside pages. The young lady is shown wearing her Goal Shooter netball bib and holding a netball, with her lacrosse racket swung over her shoulder and a netball post in the background. If you look closely you can see that she has a little needle and thread pinned onto her bib to illustrate her love of sewing. The music notes and bookshelf speak for themselves. I customised the cover that little bit further by adding her name and the date of her Bat Mitzvah celebration in English and the word Bat Mitzvah, "Daughter of Commandment", in Hebrew.Inside the album I embellished several of the pages with designs that covered her remaining hobbies. Above, from left to right, you can see the page that reflects her love of arts and crafts, the page that shows her passion for music, for clothes, reading and books and finally, once again, netball. On each page I added a Star of David, or Magen David, the generally recognized symbol of Jewish identity and Judaism.
I am told that Lauren absolutely loved her album and that she kept showing it to everyone. I, of course, loved making it and now, with a few albums under my belt, am looking forward to the next request for a wedding, birthday or Bar or Bat Mitzvah album!
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