Hamsa Notecards

The artworks on these cards are relief prints - a bolder, more graphic look than the papercuttings in the previous post.

Nature Notecards

Just got some notecards printed up - here are the nature inspired black & whites...

Nature Studies in Ink

Cut Paper Challah Cover

My latest challah cover design is inspired by an artwork I saw in a book entitled "Traditional Jewish Papercuts" by Joseph and Yehudit Shadur. It's a beautiful book, with highly informative text and descriptions. The papercut my illustration is based off of was a type of amulet called a "childbed letter". It was originally meant to hang on the nursery wall to thwart "the evil intents of the witch Lilith who carries off newborn infants"...  Where there were areas of text on the papercut, I substituted a sun, and in the rectangular shape flanked by lions, I inserted the word "Shabbat" in Hebrew.

Below you can see that I've experimented with three color combinations: red and yellow, purple and orange (with purple ball fringe), and the traditional blue and white. Do you have a preference?

In future variations, I may add facial features to the animals... Initially I thought that people might want to embroider these details in on their own to add their own personal touch, but either way, having them there can at least serve as a guide...

cut paper challah cover red and yellow
cut paper challah cover with ball fringe
rabkat-cut-paper-challah-cover-blue and white

The 100 Day Project Update

I'm three quarters of the way through the 100 day project. I think it's been really helpful limiting myself to just two materials (black origami paper and pen) in terms of clarifying my style. I especially like the use of bold, simple shapes (which have graphic impact from afar) complemented by spare use of the thin white line which allows me to define and clarify the image. 

Happy Sukkot!

Today is the first day of Sukkot, one of my favorite Jewish holidays. It's sort of like Thanksgiving in that it celebrates the earth's bounty, but it's also a commemoration of the 40 year period the Jewish people spent wandering in the desert after escaping their lives of slavery in Egypt.

The Hebrew word sukkot is the plural of sukkah, which means "booth" or "tabernacle". The sukkah is a temporary structure with four walls and a roof loosely covered with branches so that the stars are still visible. During the harvest season, farmers would build and live in these structures out in the fields, and during their exodus from Egypt, Jews would live in dwellings such as these.

For several years, I used to build a sukkah of our own in the backyard. My family and I would eat our meals inside, and one year we even slept in it overnight. I stopped building it in recent years because it was a HUGE job, but for the years we did have it, it was a wonderful experience. 

Besides the sukkah structure itself, the holiday includes a ritual which involves shaking the lulav and etrog in all directions (signifying that G-d is everywhere). The etrog is a citrus fruit similar to a lemon, and the lulav is three different plant species all bound together, and named for the largest of the three. Combined, the lulav and etrog are four species, all of which are mentioned in the Torah. There are several explanations as to why these particular species were chosen for the ritual, but my favorite one likens each of the species to a part of the human body. With the etrog as the heart, the willow as the lips, the lulav (or palm) as the spine, and the myrtle as the eyes, it's said that through the use of these body parts we can serve G-d by helping others. 

I don't have a sukkah this year, but if I did, I might use my illustration shown here as one of the decorations. If you'd like to download this image to hang in your sukkah, feel free, you can get it here. Hang as is, or color it in. One suggestion that I have is to laminate it with one of the thicker weight lamination films at your local copy store. This will protect it in the rain, keep it hanging flat, and give you a stiff border through which you can punch some holes to hang it. If you remember, please send me a pic of your sukkah, would love to see it. Chag Sameach!

Nature Baby Quilt

When I was pregnant with my first child, I started working on his baby blanket while he was still in utero and finished it within the same 9 months. For my second child, I patched one together after he was born and completed it before he was out of diapers. My third child, who is currently 9, just received her baby blanket this year. Luckily, once I got around to starting the project, it took very little time to complete. I had already made the design (which had been inspired by my daughter to begin with). The illustrations I make are, for the most part, structured on a grid, which lends itself perfectly to the medium of quilting. All I needed to do was get the image printed onto fabric, layer it on batting and backing, and sew. 

vicky katzman baby quilt

If you have a third child coming into your life and can't find the time to piece together a quilt top, try using a cheater quilt top (which is what this is). If you like the one pictured above, you can find it in my Spoonflower shop. I'd recommend printing it onto the Kona cotton, which is what I did. One yard contains the entire design and costs about $19. When you look at the design you'll notice that the grid of images is 4 squares high by 5 squares wide. I wanted to make more of a square shaped quilt, so I trimmed off the first row. Maybe I'll use the extra fabric for a pillow top at some point, but for now, I'm just happy that my daughter loves her new baby quilt. 

vicky katzman lap quilt