Monday, 28 February 2011

The young and the not-so-young

This young man is celebrating his birthday today! When his Mum put in an order for a special card she told me that he loves to draw and craft and that everyone in his family calls him 'Mr Maker'! He also enjoys reading, writing and making little books - thus the ABC letters - and, like his brother, likes playing football. His mum seemed to be very pleased with the card when it arrived at it's destination, India, and I do hope that the birthday boy was happy to see an illustration of himself painting and cutting, when he opened the important envelope this morning!
A friend who has been sending my customised cards to her nephews and nieces in the UK for several years now recently told me that she had asked one of her sisters whether her 14 year old niece was getting a bit old for a card. The answer she received was that my cards "are the highlight of the card opening ceremony" as all the family try to decide what will be on the card that year!.
Of course I was delighted to hear that and have never considered any age to be too old for a customised card. As I have shown you here, I have made cards for newborn babies, a couple of cards for folk celebrating their 100th birthday's, and anything and everything in between! This post is a great example of the age ranges I create cards for. The card above was for a sweet five year old boy and the card below was made for "an old geezer"!!!
Yes, you read that correctly and I have put those few words in speech marks to show you all that they were not my words but the words of the daughter-in-law who requested the card! She asked me for a card for her father-in-law and wanted to know if an old geezer with a stick and a mobile was possible?!! Of course it was possible, and it was a lot of fun to create too!
I am not saying that my customer's father-in-law is either an old geezer or that he even looks like the man on the card (though I did work from a photo, wink wink!), yet I hope he found humour in the card design and, whatever the private joke is about the walking stick and mobile phone, that he appreciated the love and care that went into ordering it.
* Definition of old geezer at YourDictionary.com: Slang. An old person, especially an old man.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

A little Jewish Learning and more

'Sacha' celebrated her Bat Mitzvah this month and her grandparents in the UK requested a special card to mark the occasion. Since no particular hobbies or interests were mentioned apart from a request for the colour pink, I based my design on a traditional theme.
When a Jewish girl reaches 12 years of age she becomes responsible for her actions and becomes a 'Bat Mitzvah' (Daughter of the Commandment). I put two Shabbat candles on the card to illustrate the obligation of a Jewish woman to light two candles before sundown on a Friday evening to "Remember the Sabbath" (Exodus 20:8) and "Observe the Sabbath" (Deuteronomy 5:12). (Strictly speaking an unmarried girl should light only one candle.)
In Judaism a white dove is generally a sign for peace. The Torah (Jewish Law) describes a story in which a dove was released by Noah after the Great Flood in order to find land. The dove came back carrying an olive branch in its beak, telling Noah that the flood had receded and there was land once again. The white dove also represents purity and innocence, so it seemed appropriate to perch a small dove atop of the Bat Mitzvah girl's age, twelve.  I added a flower and the Hebrew word 'Mazal Tov' (literally meaning "good luck", though the phrase is used to express "congratulations") to complete the design.
Leaving religious matters for the time being, the young man above celebrated his tenth birthday last week and his Mum asked me to make a card for him. He is part of a local gymnastics team and trains several times a week, so Mum asked me to show him doing some gymnastics and carefully explained to me what he wears. I crafted a little Pikachu, sitting on the gymnastics horse, because he loves the Pokémon series on television. His Mum was kind enough to let me know that  her son "...absolutely loved his card. He could not believe how brilliant it was."
These two cards were going to slightly older men. Both are big football fans, 'Simon' supporting the English Premier League football club Manchester City, whilst 'Stephen' favours Newcastle United. Both have received football cards from me several times before - I remembered cutting out the black and white stripes of the Newcastle shirt for Stephen's birthday last year -  so this time I focused on the team's badges, adding some football boots, balls and a goal to the designs.
"Mazal Tov", "Happy Birthday" and "May the best team win" to everyone who has recently received one of my cards!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Kakadu

A few weeks ago I decided to pay a visit to the Kakadu studio at Moshav Zafririm on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Kakadu is an Israeli company which creates handmade wooden art accessories for the home and was started in 1990 by the husband and wife carpenter and artist team, Aharon and Reut Shahar. I have long been an admirer of their work and am lucky enough to even have a couple of pieces around the house. It's easy to tell why I love their work so much - the bright colours and bold designs really appeal to me, though I do appreciate some of their more muted pieces too.
Kakadu creations include placemats, trays, mirrors, vases, cushions and more. Their incredible wooden carpets are breathtaking as floor coverings or wall hangings. Each of their pieces is lacquered to perfection for water resistance and durability, but frankly I find it hard to walk all over those gorgeous carpets anyway!
Workshops are offered at the studio and I'd really love to participate in one at some point.
If you are in Israel but can’t make it out to Moshav Zafririm, then you can also see their pieces in shops in Jerusalem. Franchise shops can be found in the USA and Canada.

* A Kakadu is a white parrot that is sacred to the Aborigine people of Australia.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Kids, a Kindle and a Kiddush Cup!

So Valentine's Day has been and gone. I hope that it was a day filled with flowers, chocolates and beautiful cards for all of you! Of course there are plenty more days in the year for card sending too. A couple of special birthdays have now passed for two people and I can now show you the customised cards that their loved ones requested.
'Devora', above, is a nurse, hence the little nurses cap and syringe. She likes rabbits, music and films and, because the card was from her four nieces and nephews, I was asked to illustrate them too. There was plenty to work with and I did wonder how I would fit it all in, but the card came together nicely and my customer seemed pleased.
This lucky guy was going to receive a Kindle for his birthday and is obviously a keen reader. After a chat with his wife, I suggested showing him with the new Kindle in one hand and a pile of books in the other. After cutting out all those fiddly little books for my son's recent birthday card and lamenting over the time it had taken me, I had vowed not to do it again! It didn't take me long to go back on my words, did it? It was worth it though. I don't know 'Alex' personally but had a look at a few photos of him before I tackled the card. With this particular card I really feel that I caught something of a likeness. Perhaps it was the glasses perched on the end of his nose! I hope you are not offended Alex...
These two cards, above, were being sent to the same 'Grandma' within a short time of each other and the theme that I had been given to work with was the same! Difficult. It was suggested that the design somehow depict her cooking and the family's Friday night Shabbat dinners around the table. On both cards I illustrated the Shabbat candlesticks, traditionally lit by the woman of the household just before sundown to welcome the Shabbat. I also added a plaited Challah and a steaming hot pie to the birthday card, whilst the anniversary card for Grandma and Grandpa displayed a Kiddush cup and a couple of champagne glasses to toast their special day.
If any of you would like to have a go at making your own Challah, this looks like a great recipe.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

New Stock

There are occasions when I have fulfilled all my customised card and album orders and in those 'in between' times I make cards for my stock. These cards are kept on hand for sale to customers, to the stores that I supply and for when I participate in the occasional arts and crafts fair.
The quieter months of January and February have enabled me to build up my stock quite a bit lately. I now have a supply of birthday cards on hand, as well as the usual Bar and Bat Mitzvah cards, Wedding, New Baby and cards for pretty much any occasion.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Black and White

I LOVE colour. Cherry reds, sunny yellows and brilliant blues excite me and I'm pretty sure that it shines through in my designs. The brighter the better - that's what I say! So what happened here then? No, your computer monitor is not faulty. Everything is fine. I was simply asked to create a very special 50th birthday card. The birthday girl was going to have a Twenties style black tie party and everyone was asked to come dressed in black and white. So, the brief was clear and I am always up for a challenge! A black and white card it had to be!
Funnily enough, it was not at all hard for me to break away from my 'normal' style to embrace this particular theme. I was already familiar with the fashions of the day and immediately knew that I wanted the card to picture a flapper girl. Who doesn't love the way they dressed? I also picked out a few of the designs of the day - the Art Deco jewellery and the more 'modern' graphics which broke with tradition - all the time working in a palette of black and white and a few shades of grey along the way. The card was finished off nicely with an Art Deco style font for the number 50, which sat beautifully under our flapper girl's hat feather.
I LOVED creating this card, even if there wasn't a spot of bright colour on it, and the person who ordered it wrote to tell me that it was a "fab card". I definitely see more monochrome designs in my future work...

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Givat Sher

The Society for Preservation of Sites and Landscape in Modi'in recently organised a guided walk of Givat Sher. On the outskirts of the new city of Modi'in, Givat Sher is a low hill, right next to, and possibly even part of, ancient Modi'in. As a resident of the new city, I am always keen to learn a little bit about the history of the area around me and the walk was a terrific opportunity to learn all about the hill, its history and past agricultural life, and it also enabled me to get out of the usual Friday morning routine of shopping and cooking before Shabbat!
Givat Sher is covered with wild oak trees and old almond and olive orchards but there are also strange cairns (man-made piles of stones), cisterns, terrace walls and enclosures all over the hill. It is thought that the place was first settled during the Hellenistic period, during which time there existed a thriving village with a nearby synagogue, excavated several years ago by the Israel Antiquities Authority. The Byzantine period saw a second period of occupation. A stone with two crosses on it, probably belonging to a church, was discovered on the hill, so there was clearly a Christian community there too. The site was also thought to have been settled in the Medieval period when it was used as a peasants farm.
Today Givat Sher is wild, covered in the olive groves thought to have been planted by neighbouring villagers who fled with the onset of war in 1948. The hill continues to be excavated, generally in the warmer months, and I have taken my own kids up there in the past to participate in an organised activity to try and discover their own little piece of history (they did not, though they were excited by it all the same!).
Our Friday morning walk was wonderful! It gave my husband and I the opportunity to learn a little, enjoy some terrific views and spend time outside in the fresh air, all at the same time!
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