Hot Off the Press

It’s here! Lark Books’ latest book in the 500 series, 500 Judaica, was just delivered to me yesterday. And it is just lovely. I feel honored to be included in this beautiful visual collection of works by global artists and craftspeople who  create ritual objects for Jewish worship.

500 Judaica - Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art from Lark Crafts, a division of Sterling Publishing Co.

Four of my original design handwoven prayer shawls were selected for inclusion in this book.

Kol Nidre

Asher

The design and colors of Asher were inspired by the stained glass window of the same name by Marc Chagall.  It is one of a series of windows, Jerusalem Windows, installed at the Hadassah-Hebrew Medical Center in Jerusalem.

Marc Chagall's stained glass window, Asher

Tribute to Ruth and Old Jerusalem

Tribute to Ruth on the left includes some handspun yarn that I inlaid into the atarah, or neckband. I created this tallit in honor of the Book of Ruth.  Ruth was recorded as the first convert to Judaism, and she was the great-grandmother to King David. Old Jerusalem on the right of this page had been previously selected to be included in the exhibit “Best of Tennessee Craft” at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville.

The book is extremely well done.  And certainly not because of my pieces.  The photographs are all lovely and all craft media are represented here:  wooden arks (which house the Torah scrolls), silver kiddush cups, gold mezuzot, ceramic seder plates, glass Shabbat candlestick holders, bronze and copper jewelry, paper ketubot (marriage certificate) with hand printed calligraphy, a beautifully embroidered huppah for a wedding ceremony.  One not familiar with the beauty of Jewish ritual and worship will also learn quite a bit from the handcrafted objects used not only in a Jewish congregational  service, but also in the more intimate setting of a Jewish household.

And yes, 500 Judaica is available now and can be ordered here.

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A Tale of Two Tallitot

Tallitot is plural for tallit.  For those of you who are wondering what a tallit is —  it is a prayer shawl worn for Jewish worship. The shawl has special twined and knotted fringes called tzitzit attached to its four corners. There are more than two tallitot involved here, but I really liked the alliterative reference!

This previous post described one of my long term projects – a commission to weave eight ceremonial tallitot, prayer shawls for a large synagogue.  The project is currently on my loom and looks like this.

Tallit on loom - Right and Left sides are woven separately and at the same time

This is the first prayer shawl in a series of four. These are ceremonial tallitot and so are narrower than standard prayer shawls.  They will be worn around the neck  much like a scarf and with a seam in the back.  The tallitot will be lined and taper to a width of about  four inches at the seam at the back of the neck.  Here is my sketch for one side of the tallit.

sketch of tallit design

The reason that I am weaving a single tallit side by side is so that the pattern bands are equal in length as these will lie in front of the wearer and for the congregation to see. Ideally the pattern bands should line up with each other.   This means that I am weaving with four shuttles at a time:  each side has one shuttle for plain weave and one shuttle for the pattern weave. I will also be weaving a separate neck band or atarah which will be sewn over the back seam and whose design will extend onto the front of the prayer shawl. This is the blue green band that is at the top of the design sketch.

Detail of tallit on loom

The warp and plain weave weft yarn for this project is an undyed  natural 8/2 tencel yarn.  The pattern weft is Bambu 7 in solid colors and also a handpainted 5/2 tencel.  The pattern design is a variation of  a honeysuckle twill.  The weave pattern for the atarah will be in a different design. The imagery of the twill weave reminded me of a flame, and so this collection will be titled “Ner Tamid” the eternal light above the Holy Ark that houses the Torah and thus is a symbol of God’s ever presence.

This first  set of four prayer shawls should be completed by the time of the Jewish New Year, or the High Holy Days which this year occurs the first week of September.  And at this time as well, Lark Books will introduce a new book: “500 Judaica:  Innovative Contemporary Ritual Art.” This is one of Lark Books’  “500 series”  of publications showcasing collections of contemporary design by an international array of artists in varying media.

Lark Books' "500 Judaica"

And it just so happens that four of  my original design handwoven tallitot have been selected for publication in this book. This book will be available in September and can be purchased at all book stores and online shops.  To find out more visit Lark Books.