Sunday, January 26, 2014

Everyone Loves a Chuppah

Last night I had the pleasure of having coffee with a friend I haven’t seen in a while, and as we got talking we bounced ideas around creativity that spark excitement and passion for us. I told her how interesting it is to me that people tend to respond positively to the sheer idea of creative and personalized chuppah (not to mention the reaction when they’ve seen a handmade chuppah in person.) Why, I asked my friend, is this particular ritual so enduring and endearing to Jews of the diaspora? I have wondered about chuppah customs around the world and also, the historical aspect of chuppahs—i.e. in the shtetls, did they use a tallis (prayer shawl) as a chuppah—or could it be that women known for their handiwork helped to create chuppahs? I told my friend that I didn’t have many answers to my questions at this point, and we wondered aloud at the wonderment of chuppahs. While any couple of any religion can get married/united under a canopy, when guests at a Jewish wedding catch sight of a canopy they instantly connect with the magic of the occasion. This special ritual provides a sense of place and home, much like the chuppah itself. I think this topic is worthy of more research. What do you think; do you know more about who made chuppahs in generations past?

Monday, January 20, 2014

Handmade Business Cards

I thought I'd show you the business cards I made for the festival last summer. It was a good excuse to have some.
     I've purchased business cards in the past, but since these cards were for a more artsy endeavor, I spent a little time looking online for ideas. I found some helpful advice: If your business is handmade art, don't settle for cookie-cutter business cards (well, maybe unless you need thousands...but let's cross that bridge when we come to it.)
     After all, your business card is like a first impression--and if your creations are unique, why shouldn't your calling card be the same? I found inspiration from crafty people who incorporated fabric and/or stitching here and here.
     I made my cards from the following materials:
  • card stock
  • fabric (an assortment)
  • big glue stick
  • printable fabric paper (or plain old printer paper)
  • tulle
  • thread

     I used a ready-made business card as a template, and traced it onto the card stock and fabric. I glued the fabric onto each business card and then machine stitched around the card; for some, I also machine stitched a second time after adding the paper that contained the text. (I had some concerns about the ink not being water proof but the results were so pretty I didn't worry much about it.)
    At some point I got the idea to add a layer of tulle (seemed very wedding appropriate), and added that on top of the background fabric before the first round of stitching. If you click on the image above you can take a closer look at the tulle.
     Everyone seems to love the cards. The only thing is, they are a *little* specific ("Chuppah Artist" rather than, for example, "Custom Quilts"), so next time, I would probably create a few different versions depending on my audience. Also, in the future I'll add a website where people can see images of my work. Stay tuned!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

"Something Blue" Chuppah

     It wouldn't be a chuppah adventure without some unanticipated twists and turns, and so it was with my Something Blue Chuppah, which I created in time for the Boulder Jewish Festival. Inspired by a Marge Piercy poem and some beautiful silk fabric, it features an original design of a mini tulle- and floral-adorned chuppah among the poetry.
    The original design was actually quite different; I'd envisioned waves of text flowing horizontally across the chuppah, when I realized that I could have the words under the chuppah, literally. Then, another bump in the road--I found that I needed more blue silk and went to the store. When I brought the fabric home, I realized that the grain of the dupioni silk ran in a different direction than I had thought. So a little brainstorming was required to enlarge the blue background in as subtle a way as possible.
     The purple silk dupioni lettering has been hand cut, fused, and machine appliqued onto the light blue batik background fabric.
     Here are some images of the chuppah as it progressed...

Step 1: I made the white chuppah from silk and fused it to the background.

Step 2: Then I added tulle...

...and after a lot of fussing, hand stitched it down.

Step 3: The finishing touch--a delicate vine with rosebuds made using batik fabric. I loved it!

What's next? I'm planning on an etsy shop but couldn't decide if it should sell chuppahs only, or be more of an 'umbrella' for other judaica/additional creations. I think it will be the latter and will keep you posted.

Chuppah Revival

Ok, it's been a 'while' since I posted. Fast forward to now. I'd like to tell you that I completed 18 chuppahs by now but, it's more like two.

However, the big chuppah news of 2013 was that I designed a new chuppah for a very auspicious deadline (I mean, occasion)--my first booth at the 19th annual Boulder Jewish Festival (and did I mention my first booth, ever?)
     That's right, as many may not know (including pedestrians that happened upon the fresh-air festival by accident), Boulder, CO has an annual Jewish Festival that takes place on the famed, pedestrian-only Pearl Street Mall--the very heart of downtown. And on that day, culture, music, falafel, community, members of the Tribe and the Boulder public wonderfully collide.
     Full disclosure: This was not the first time I vowed to have a table at the fest (it was the second), but it was the first time I actually made it there with chuppahs in tow.
     I was so nervous. Would I  be able to hang the chuppahs up by myself, and would they stay clean all day? (Yes, with a little help from a great festival volunteer, and yes.) It really was a great experience with so many friendly people wandering into my tent for a closer look at these one-of-a-kind chuppahs. It was just as wonderful introducing chuppahs to those who had never even heard of them before.

Many people gravitated towards the Spiral Chuppah...

Here is the completed, quilted Lavender Chai Chuppah I had mentioned in a prior post.

Here's a close-up of a coordinating purple break-the-glass bag I made utilizing machine embroidery. I almost sold a few but had no credit card machine. My sister mentioned that the bride and groom can also use these to collect gifts at the wedding, too. Great idea!

One of my favorite things was a miniature chuppah stand I made for the fest...I can't take complete credit as I got the cute idea from another quilter :)

And here is the newest chuppah. Inspiration struck for this 'under the chuppah' chuppah when I found the royal blue silk at a local fabric shop, Elfriede's. I'll tell you all about it in the next post.