Sunday, 23 July 2017

Festival of Light in Jerusalem 2017

The Festival of Light in Jerusalem is an annual event which attracts hundreds of thousands of people from Israel and abroad. It's one of my favourite festivals. Visitors are invited to stroll along the paths of the Old City, taking in the magical atmosphere of the Old City walls and cobblestone streets which are illuminated with an amazing variety of modern light art installations, created by both local and international artists. This year was the 9th festival and my fourth visit. You can read about my previous visits here, here and here. We didn't go last year because honestly we were a little afraid to walk around parts of the Old City at night, but this year the pull was too great for me and we simply avoided walking to the Damascus Gate, which has sadly seen far too many terror attacks in recent times.
Unlike previous years, where several routes were offered taking us through different areas of the Old City, this year there was just one long route, which took us from one art installation to another. I actually preferred it this way, though the arrows marking the way were sometimes hard to see in the dark. Exhibits this year included a giant illuminated puppet, big glowing bunnies, and spinning tops made from LED lights hovering and dancing above the cardo. I'm going to say at this point that this year was not my favourite year. Truthfully, I was a little disappointed with some of the exhibits, though there were definitely some incredible pieces that are worth mentioning here.
I found the audiovisual show, which told the story of the unification of the City of Jerusalem on the walls from Zahal Square to Jaffa Gate, so moving, even though it was hard to see it all with so many people around, and I absolutely loved the "Solaris" projection, created by Visualsupport of Poland, on the Hurva Synagogue, a historic synagogue located in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City. We were mesmerized by the magical sounds, kaleidoscope of energetic colours and colourful patterns, so much so that we watched it twice! As you can see from the photos below, it was quite stunning.
"Moon Haze", a huge, radiant 10-metre moon placed on Tiferet Israel Street and created by Feng Jiacheng and Huang Yuanbei of China, allowed us to reach the moon, while "Journey into Space" at the junction of New Gate Road and Ha Achim Pereire Street, created by Israel's Moshe Kimchi, hovered overhead and reminded us of science fiction movies. From there the route led us to New Gate and out from the Old City Walls.
Finally, the "HeartBeat" installation created by GNI Projects, UK, deserves a mention. By joining hands in front of the sculpture, a circuit was completed and a pulsing heart was revealed. Once the connection was lost, the heart was broken into fragments again. It was a fun interactive experience, great for lovers, family and friends, and for us it was a fun way to end a special evening in Jerusalem.

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Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Two Birthdays and a Bar Mitzvah

A new customer asked me to create a birthday card for her husband's big day. She requested a picture of him on the card and told me that he's into computers, that he works with diamonds, and that his phone, with Pokémon Go on it, should probably feature too.
I created his paper portrait and added a desktop computer with his company's homepage on the screen. Pokémon Go is open on his phone and there are some pretty big diamonds surrounding him!
I was delighted to receive this photo from my customer on the morning of her husband's birthday. "He loves it [the card]!" she wrote. "[He's] even wearing the same shirt." 
I replied saying that she had made my day. She replied that she loves my work and that I'd made her month!
Yonatan is still into Chelsea FC (last year I showed him wearing the team shirt on the cover of his Bar Mitzvah album). His mum asked me to create a card for his 14th birthday with Chelsea's club badge on it, a football and football net, along with the badge of Tzofim Dati'im (The Hebrew Scout Movement). She also asked me to include his age, 14, and of course a picture of Yonatan as well. I added some balloons. You can't go wrong with balloons for a birthday card.
As she often does, Mum wrote me a beautiful note on the day of Yonatan's birthday. "Thank you, Lisa, for making our birthdays special!"
Finally, this young man was Bar Mitzvah when I was visiting my Dad in the UK. Mister Handmade in Israel was able to join his celebrations and so I made sure to have a special card ready for him before I left. This is one of my favourite Bar Mitzvah card designs. It shows the tallit prayer shawl, a kippa (skullcap) and a Sefer Torah (a long scroll containing the entire text of the Five Books of Moses: the biblical books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). On the first Sabbath of his thirteenth year the Bar Mitzvah boy is called up to read the weekly portion from the Torah. He wears the tallit and kippa whilst reading, so I included all these elements on the Bar Mitzvah card.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Ronit's Album

I made a Bar Mitzvah album for Ronit's brother Ethan last year. This summer it was Ronit's turn to celebrate her Bat Mitzvah (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). I always send an email out to my customers with a list of questions about their hobbies and interests before I start designing the cover of their album. With Ronit's album I already knew what - or should I say who - was going to be the No.1 choice for the cover! The family have a dog, a Weimaraner called Luna, and I just knew that Ronit would request a picture of her beloved Luna on the cover of her Bat Mitzvah album. I wasn't wrong!
Apart from Luna, Mum told me that Ronit loves listening to music, baking, being on her phone (don't they all?), and arts and crafts. She had chosen a colour scheme of white, silver and lilac for her Bat Mitzvah celebration, and she likes light blue as well, so I made sure to use all those colours on the album cover. Mum asked me to add her name in Hebrew and English, and to include her age, 12, and the words Bat Mitzvah as well. Lastly, the album was to open the English way (Hebrew books open from right to left).
So, I created a papercut illustration of Ronit and Luna together for the cover. Bespectacled Ronit has a cupcake in one hand. To her left are her black and silver headphones and her gold Samsung phone, and below her are some arts and crafts materials (a tube of paint, a paintbrush, paper and pencils), and another cupcake. Ronit is wearing a white T-shirt, the background box is lilac and the lettering silver – all to match the colour scheme. Two Magen David's (Star of David) in the corners of the cover match the colour scheme as well.
As well as decorating the cover of the album, I also embellished five pages inside the book. The first page was of course kept for Luna. I was careful to match the beautiful mouse-grey colour of her fur and added her red collar and silver bone shaped tag. Ronit noticed of course and Mum wrote to tell me how much she loved the collar and the little details. Next I added her headphones and some music notes, followed by a page showing some more cupcakes, along with a wooden spoon and a spatula. A hand (presumably Ronit's!) holding up her phone came next, then finally the last page was devoted to her love of arts and crafts and painting.
Ronit's Mum and Dad collected the album and were soon cooing over the paper illustration of Luna! Later mum messaged me to tell me that Ronit loved them too. "Ronit loves it!! Thank you so much!!!" she wrote.
I was happy to see that my design had also made it onto the place cards at the celebration.  Don't forget, if you are interested in a one-off piece of artwork for your party invitations, thank you cards, place cards and any other printed item required for your celebration, you can check it out and order it here.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Tiptoe Through the Tulips

My customer requested a large 18th birthday card for her niece. She is studying makeup and works for the cosmetics company Bare Minerals, so I cut out some lipsticks, a brush and an eye pencil for her card, adding the logo of the company she works for too. The birthday girl is going to Amsterdam this summer, so her auntie requested more of the orange tulips that I put on her sister Emily's card. Of course I added a big number 18 as well.
My amazing sister-in-law turned 50 recently. I made this card for her big day and was able to give it to her in person since she spent a few days here in Israel prior to her significant birthday.
Finally, a lovely family friend asked me to bring her some of my "female" cards when I visited her in the UK recently. She is one of those incredible people who remembers everyone's birthdays, so I am delighted that she will be using my cards for a little while. She seemed very happy with the mix of cards I took her.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Richard and Jonny

Sleep is definitely a recurring theme on the birthday cards I make for Mister Handmade in Israel. You can see some of the other cards I have made for him herehere and here. He's really rather good at it you see and is able to fall asleep at the strangest of times. I'm not entirely sure that he has ever fallen asleep eating a bowl of cereal, whilst sitting on the sofa. I used a little artistic license on this but I like it!
I have shown Mister Handmade in Israel wearing his favourite lemon shirt and brown trousers. He is rather fond of the colour brown. He is surrounded by the cushions which are on our sofa (I took a photo of them to match the pattern) and he has taken his glasses off before drifting off to sleep. In one hand he is holding a blue handled spoon from our kitchen and, in the other, a bowl full of cereal - one of his favourite evening snacks.
I added his age to the card in big red numbers (no secrets on this blog!) and some balloons for his birthday too. Comments on my Facebook page ranged from "Oh I like that card!!" to "It's his double!"
Oh, and I made him a cake too. It was delicious!
Jonny also recently celebrated his birthday. "Can you make a card showing Jonny playing tennis with [his friend] M.?" his wife asked me. Apparently they play every week.
Always a stickler for detail, I asked what colour tennis racket he plays with and what clothes he wears when he plays. Apparently this guy likes yellow too, though his favourite shirt is more of a fluorescent yellow than the lemon that my other half favours.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Hull - Part II

The concert was great. Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott performed many of their hits, as well as a lot of Housemartins and Beautiful South material. I sang along and danced to my heart's content with every song (my kids weren't there to tell me that I was embarrassing!).
The following day could have been a let-down after the big build-up to the concert, but it was a perfect day. We travelled up the coast to Bempton Cliffs, a nature reserve run by the RSPB. Bempton Cliffs is best known for its breeding seabirds, including northern gannet, razorbill and common guillemot. We were lucky enough to see Atlantic puffin too, which made me happy after our big disappointment over a planned birdwatching trip in Scotland. It was a really lovely place to spend a little time just enjoying the majestic cliffs and the marvel of the seabirds clinging to the chalk cliff face.
Afterwards we drove to Flamborough Head, a chalk headland with sheer white cliffs. The cliff top has two standing lighthouse towers, the oldest dating from 1669 and Flamborough Head Lighthouse built in 1806. The older lighthouse was designated a Grade II* listed building in 1952 and is now recorded in the National Heritage List for England. The cliffs here also provide nesting sites for many thousands of seabirds, and are of international significance for their geology.
Our next stop was Bridlington, a seaside resort where we used to spend many holidays. Bridlington is a minor sea fishing port with a working harbour and is also a popular place for day trippers. We walked through the harbour area and past the amusement arcades, then stopped to look in the new leisure centre, before wandering onto the beach and then along the promenade. I had a great time photographing the seagulls, the lines of wooden posts of the groynes holding the sand of the beach in place, and the weathered walls of the seafront.
My concertgoing friend was still with me and together we decided to head back into Hull the following day, giving Dad a day off and time for a nap. The weather let us down but we anyway joined a walking tour of the Old Town of Hull. Though I grew up in Hull, I haven't visited that area of the city for many years. Our guide took us around the Old Town, down Humber Street to the pier, past the Millennium Bridge and around the Museum Quarter. I enjoyed seeing and hearing about the many buildings, both old and new, and learning about historical events in Hull, the Land of Green Ginger, William Wilberforce, and much much more.
Later we dropped into the Ferens Art Gallery which was showing Skin, a dramatic exhibition of major works by Lucian Freud, Ron Mueck and Spencer Tunick. Reflecting the city’s maritime history, the stunning and hugely anticipated images from Spencer Tunick’s 'Sea of Hull' were being shown for the first time since the commission, which took place on 9th July 2016. Over 3,200 participants from across the world painted their skin with blue body paint and took part in the largest nude installation in the UK to date. The Ferens has had a really good make-over for Hull 2017 and the Skin exhibition was well worth seeing, especially the 'Sea of Hull' photos.
The weather had taken a turn for the worse by now and so, with just one more day in Hull, we decided to make it a museum day. Dad and I went off to visit the Streetlife Museum of Transport, a lovely little museum with carriages and bikes, trains and trams, with shops, a railway signal box and more, all arranged in a street-like setting. My Dad enjoyed reminiscing and I was happy to hear his tales.
As far as I can tell, Hull 2017 has been a roaring success so far, with a few transport and other teething problems along the way. I certainly enjoyed my visit. It was nice to spend quality time with my Dad, it was good to see my hometown with fresh eyes, and it was especially nice not to be moving from one place to the next, as we usually do when we visit the UK. My friends here in Israel think that the only place to visit in the UK is London. Of course London has a huge amount to offer, but I had a brilliant time in Yorkshire too!


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