Friday, 17 November 2017

Sarah's Album

Sarah celebrated her Bat Mitzvah at the beginning of the month. (According to Jewish law, when Jewish boys become 13 years old they become accountable for their actions and become a Bar Mitzvah. A girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah at the age of 12.) Sarah loves to sing and likes listening to pop music, particularly Ariana Grande. Other hobbies include going to the Zionist youth movement NOAM (an acronym for No'ar Masorti, Masorti Youth), texting her friends on her iPhone SE and eating sushi.
I have shown dark-haired Sarah wearing her NOAM sweatshirt. She is texting with one hand and is waving her other hand in the air, as if she is singing. To her left is a small Ariana Grande picture and to her right some music notes and some sushi and chopsticks. I added a Torah scroll, since she read from the Torah for her Bat Mitzvah, and also her school badge.
Her name appears in English and Hebrew, along with the date of the Bat Mitzvah. Two Star of Davids (known in Hebrew as the Shield of David or Magen David) in two corners of the cover add a little Jewish content.
As well as decorating the cover of Sarah's album, I also embellished five pages inside the book. The first page was reserved for Ariana Grande and some music notes. Next I created some paper sushi which my husband thought looked good enough to eat, followed by a page displaying the NOAM logo. Another page displayed Sarah's school badge, some books and a pencil, and finally, on the last page, a hand (presumably Sarah's!) is holding up her precious iPhone SE. Each page also featured a gold Star of David placed on a purple background, Sarah's favourite colour.

Thursday, 9 November 2017


I'm finding it a little hard to believe that the card I made for my eldest son has a 17 on it! I have of course made a card for him every year since his 1st birthday, and started blogging about them when he was 8. (One day, when I get round to it, I intend to line them all up and photograph them together.) Back then he was into football, playing chess and, without the risk of embarrassing him too much, "Sock-puppety" the homemade sock puppet. These days his interests are somewhat different!
My son is serious about keeping fit. He will be going into the Israeli army when he is 18 (conscription exists in Israel for all Israeli citizens over the age of 18 who are Jewish, Druze or Circassian; Arab citizens of Israel are not conscripted) and he wants to be ready! He's a busy young man with plenty of things going on in his life that keep him occupied, but when he has the time, he likes to go and train in the local park. Honestly I don't know what he does, but Dad assured me that press-ups are part of his routine, so that's what I have shown him doing on his card.
Of course, his passion for Arsenal Football Club remains. In fact he is rather obsessed about football in general. I added the Arsenal crest  and a traditional black and white football to his card. He is still learning to drive (they sure do have to take a lot of expensive lessons here in Israel!), so I included an Israeli L-plate as well. The plate shares the general design of Israeli information signs in its square form and blue background. On the blue background is a white triangle pointing upwards, with the black Hebrew letter "ל" in it, from the Hebrew למידה‎ - "Learning".
He's good at maths too (I'm going to brag now and tell you that he completed his maths bagrut - Israel's high school matriculation examination - two years early.) These days he is tutoring younger kids who need a little extra help with their maths, so I added a few maths symbols to the card to illustrate that.
Finally, you may be wondering about the tuna. Well, teenage boys eat a lot! He is quite happy to sit down and eat a full evening meal with us, including dessert (he loves his dessert!), but after he has been training, he insists on a can of tuna and more "for energy". We go through a LOT of tuna. The little tuna fish on his birthday card is making a quick escape before my son swallows him up too!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Climbing Ropes and Kettlebell Weights

Last year Amitai and Gavriel were into running and swimming, and before that they filled their time playing tennis and basketball. This year they turned 11 and it looks like they were happy with the choice of activities Mum made for their birthday cards on this occasion!
She asked me to show Amitai climbing a rope, which he likes to do as part of his fitness programme. Mum specified that for sport he wears black adidas shorts with 3 yellow stripes on them, and black trainers with the same 3 stripes. His favourite colour is yellow, so I made that the colour of his T-shirt. To his left is a white T-shirt with the Hebrew words מרוץ מודיעין נבחרת יחד printed on it. Amitai has just made it on to the school running team and the shirt declares that he is part of the team. On his right is the logo of the Sayarut youth movement, run by The Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel, which Amitai goes to regularly. A big number 11 marks his age.
Gavriel is more into weights and Mum asked me to show him holding a Kettlebell weight on his card. He wears grey adidas shorts for sport and the red T-shirt marks his favourite colour. Mum was also keen for me to include a big Nerf gun and some darts, and to add a few green army men too.
She seemed thrilled with her sons' cards. "Fabulous cards! I think possibly best ever for them [Amitai and Gavriel]" she messaged me.

Monday, 30 October 2017

From Within

I was recently lucky enough to see an extraordinary exhibition at the Jaffa Port, "From Within", by the artist Nirit Levav Packer. I was already familiar with Nirit's work through her Dog series, which I have seen in several high-end gift shops in the Tel Aviv area, but this was exhibition something extra special. Her life-size statues of pregnant women, made mainly of metals (motorcycle and car parts), as well as coat hangers, branches and more were at the centre of the exhibit. The Dog series "Unchained", and dresses made of various materials, were an extra treat, and showed me just how imaginative and talented Nirit Levav Packer really is.
Nirit Levav Packer was born in 1963. She graduated from the Parsons School of Design in New York with a degree in fashion design, then proceeded to develop a career in fashion, specialising in wedding dresses.
Nirit acquired most of her early training as an artist at her father's theatre sets workshop. The workshop was often visited by renowned sculptors and painters and Nirit would spend her vacations helping her father. He taught her welding, metal cutting and most importantly of all, not to fear experimenting with various ideas and substances. This training was complemented by her mother, a crafts teacher and a hobbyist seamstress. 
After a number of years, Nirit realised that she was no longer fulfilled by being solely a fashion designer. Though there was a creative element to making wedding dresses, she was limited to a certain type of cloth and colour. Parallel to her other occupations, she started to explore other creative avenues and broaden her education by studying jewellery, pottery, ceramic sculpture and iron sculpting. After a random visit to a bike shop, where she asked for the shop's accumulated junk and received a box full of bicycle chains, she decided to focus on a single raw material - recycled bicycle chains, and on a single theme - dogs. The Dog series began, and the 20 or so figures in the "From Within" series followed.
The sculptures, composed of junk collected by the artist, illustrate her ability to humanise and instill delicacy and softness into hard, cold metal. In them she merges her full femininity (mother of 4, former designer of delicate, white wedding dresses) with the masculine power within her - metal work, welding and cutting, lifting heavy weights, rummaging through garbage containers and more.
"Curly", above, features a kneeling pregnant woman, with arms raised and placed on her head. This piece is made of motorcycle connecting rods but they give the impression of being skin-like. Other alluring figures in the main section of the exhibition include "Dotty", made of motorcycle ball bearings; "Jumpy", naturally out of car engine springs; and "Prayer" for which Nirit used motorcycle roller bearing cages. 
Of course the former clothes designer could not entirely neglect her former breadwinning line. In addition to the wonderful "From Within" series was a display of dresses you simply wanted to slip over your head, despite the fact that they were made from metals, cogs and bicycle chains. Eight dresses were on show, including one particularly attractive item made of light bulbs, above, and another put together from house keys.
The "Unchained" section of the exhibition, which is devoted to a motley collection of canine shapes, was delightful! There was a comical sculpture of an English bulldog made of watches and an oversized Afghan Hound made of bicycle chains. A miniature poodle waits eagerly for her treat. From Rottweilers to Dachshunds to cute little Yorkshire Terriers, the artist has managed to turn metal fragments into a wide variety of different breeds, and has captured the dogs' gentleness and sensitivity, despite the use of scrap metal. I was particularly fond of the Boxer, above, with his nodding head.
"From Within" was a charming exhibition, full of original works and brilliant ideas, and situated in the most amazing space at the Jaffa Port. I enjoyed it so much that I went back for a second look another day!
Sunday Snap

Thursday, 26 October 2017

21 Today

Twins Gabi and Adi recently celebrated their 21st birthday. I have mentioned before that my cards have become an essential part of their family's birthday celebrations and that these two young men spend the run-up to their big day guessing what the theme will be that year!
Well, this year Mum asked me to create a card for Gabi, right and below, as a reminder of the ceremony he went to earlier in the year at the President's Residence, Beit HaNassi, the official residence of the President of Israel. Back in May he was chosen to receive the Award for Excellence from the President of the State of Israel, President Ruvi Rivlin. Mum is justifiably proud of her son's achievements and asked me to once again show Gabi meeting the President, on his birthday card. She sent me a photo of them shaking hands. Gabi is a wearing his olive green Israeli army uniform and the brown beret of the Golani Brigade. The Emblem of the State of Israel, which shows a menorah surrounded by an olive branch on each side, and the writing "ישראל" (Hebrew for Israel) below it, is in the background.
Adi just graduated with top marks in his maths and computers degree. Mum asked me to show him wearing a black mortar board with a tassel. I gave him a sign in which he proudly declares that he got top marks in his studies. I also added some mathematical symbols and a laptop computer in the background. A big number 21 marks their age on both cards.
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