Monday, April 11, 2016

Envelop evolves!

I just received an email from envelop, the online textile shop, that they are reinventing themselves as of April 29th. Sadly, that means that my pillows will be discontinued as of that date. If you are interested in a last minute purchase, here are a few photos of the prototypes. and below are links for purchase!

Fresh Coffee




Tea Time

Monday, December 8, 2014

The shopping trip that transported me back into my Baba’s kitchen with one bite.

We just got back from our bi-weekly shopping trip to Trader Joe’s. We have a very specific route through the store and after filling our cart and checking out, our next stop is almost always Sahadi’s, a specialty Middle Eastern food shop, where we fill our cart with aromatic roasted nuts, savory pastries, and breads. Once through the door, you are transported into a different world, and we savor the experience of being there, as much as the delicacies we enjoy eating at home until our next shopping trip.

This week Marc was looking for a particular item that he had read about in a New York Times article —Ines Rosales Sweet Olive Oil Tortas. He found them after some searching and we added one package to our order.

When we were finally home and unpacked, it was time for lunch and we both looked forward to tasting our newest acquisition.

The packaging was quite deceiving, and we both thought we were in possession of some kind of pita like savory/sweet bread that would go well with the cream of mushroom soup sitting in front of us. “Oh!” I said, surprised as I opened the individually wrapped tortas. “They are hard, not soft and there is sugar on top”. Then I took a bite.

That one bite took me back ... way back to my grandmother’s kitchen. My Baba Fruman, as we called her, had a white apron on and I was about 4 years old. There were well used and well oiled cookie sheets everywhere. On the flowered table in front of us she was very skillfully rolling out a very stretchy dough. Once it was evenly rolled, she took a feather pastry brush (I hate to think what kind of feathers or how I even remember this detail, but it is as clear as day in my memory), and carefully oiled the surface of the dough. Then she took the bowl of white granulated sugar, and with a few practiced motions, spread an even layer of sugar crystals over the glistening surface.

It took only a few more seconds for her to cut three or four lines in both directions with a sharp knife across the oiled and sugared surface. Together we carefully transferred the delicate squares to the cookie sheets. If they had lost their shape in the transfer, it was easy to pull at one corner or another to pull them back into a square shape. The dough was completely malleable at this stage, but that would change soon enough!

The oven was by now at the perfect temperature, and each of the many cookie sheets made their way in, each one covered with glistening flat squares. They were removed 10 minutes later, transformed into the best cookies I had eaten then or since. She called them kichel. They had puffed up and the corners were all wonky. Some bubbled up, and there were a few where the sugar had caramelized slightly. Those were the best, and I tried to save those all for myself. They were crispy and sweet. Sooooo delicious!

I couldn't tell you exactly how many times we made them together, but they were a staple at Baba’s house and we lived across the street until I was six, so I had my share of kichel until then. After we moved to Winnipeg, Baba regularly sent us care packages with kichel and all of the other amazing sweets she made at that table on those same cookie sheets.

When my Baba passed away, I was already living in Israel, and I remember writing to family members to ask for the recipe. I realize now that it must have really been important to me because I still have the hand written instructions. But I have to admit that I was never able to do it justice, even though I tried it a few times with limited success. They never tasted like the batches we made together. So you can understand my delight after that first bite of Ines Rosales Sweet Olive Oil Tortas.

These Spanish tortas are not exactly like my Baba’s kichel. They have an added ingredient — aniseed — which is wonderful, and they are round and not square. But the taste of that first bite, was as nostalgic as it was sweet. I plan on giving the recipe another try, and, if all else fails, I know where I can get my fix.

It is so comforting to travel back to a wonderful memory, brought on by such a delicious sensory experience. I think I will make a cup of hot tea right now, eat a whole torta and remember how much fun it was to bake with my Baba, and what a wonderful impression it made on me when I was such a little girl. She was not a particularly warm or happy person. I am sure she had her reasons. But in the kitchen she was generous. And I am happy I had the opportunity to know her in that way.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fresh ideas I can relate to: Jeanette Kuvin Oren

copyright - Jeanette Kuvin Oren
The art of paper cutting has a special place in my heart. It is steeped in tradition that has found its way into both Ashkenazi and Sephardic folk art going back to the 15th century and perhaps even earlier. Interestingly Ashkenazi and Sephardic designs were in fact quite different in style, the first being very decorative, filling every space with intricate designs, while the latter being less complicated and simpler in symbolism.

In the 20th century, this art form had a rebirth of sorts. Today there are many artists pushing the limits of this craft to new levels.

Ketubah - copyright Jeanette Kuvin Oren
The work of Jeanette Kuvin Oren is an example where paper cut technique meets fiber art/stained glass/ laser cut metal in a blend of ancient tradition and modern creative brilliance. The breadth of her portfolio and the lengths to which she is undeterred by the various material limitations is very inspiring.

Torah cover - copyright Jeanette Kuvin Oren
Jeanette is self-trained in all of these mediums. After completing a Masters degree in Public Health and most of her PhD in Epidemiology at the prestigious Universities of Princeton and Yale, she decided to go with her passion full time — creating commissioned Judaic art and graphic design. Her accomplishments are substantial. She has created more than 350 installation pieces worldwide, in many mediums including mosaics, fiber art, paper cutting, painting, laser cut metal and sometimes combinations of these mediums. Aside from large installations, she also does commissions for individual ketubot as well as other Judaica related fiber art.

Chuppah - copyright Jeanette Kuvin Oren
I came across her work as I was doing some research on paper cut ketubah design. As I mentioned, I really love this craft, and I really appreciate the symbolism of using an age-old tradition to create unique and meaningful ketubah design for today’s modern couples. Her integration of fiber art with paper cut technique especially intrigues me. Her work in this area shows not only her creativity, but also her knowledge of craft at the highest level.

Laser cut metal gates - copyright Jeanette Kuvin Oren
Ketubah - copyright Jeanette Kuvin Oren
You can find out more about Jeanette and see more of her work on her website. Here is her facebook page, and a link to her shop. If you spend some time looking at her work, I believe you will be as inspired as I was.

Ketubah - copyright Jeanette Kuvin Oren
There are several other paper cut artists I am going to be writing about soon. There are too many amazing artists out there, to limit myself to sharing only one!

Until next time!

(all images copyright to Jeanette Kuvin Oren)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fresh Ideas I can relate to: Masha Manapov

House Blessing Premium Print
copyright - Masha Manapov

I have not written a blog post in a really long time, so I thought what better way to reinvigorate my blog than to introduce you to an amazing artist that I can't stop thinking about. Her name is Masha Manapov and she lives in Tel Aviv. She is a graduate of the Bazalel Academy of Art and Design with a major in illustration. She writes on her website, that her work focuses mainly on print and press media. But I found her on etsy.

I was doing my usual monthly search on etsy to see who is new to the growing list of ketubah artists opening their shops and offering ketubot for sale. I am always looking for innovation in style and fresh ideas. Masha’s work drew me in immediately. When I looked deeper and had a look at her blogwebsite and etsy shop, I knew I my first instinct was spot on. Her work is fresh, unique, fun, and completely loveable.

She calls her shop “Dvash” which means honey in Hebrew. I love the name and it is so appropriate. Looking at her work is like trying to decide on a which candy to choose in a candy shop full of delights. She explains on her website: 
“ The shop was born from the need to design original high-quality Jewish & decor products with a fresh perspective. Driven by a passion for creating something new and a bit different I am looking to provide products that will brighten up your small moments and big celebrations.”
And that is exactly what you will find in her shop. I have read through her website and shop descriptions and I have not found out exactly what her process is. Her work is full of texture and whimsey and speaks loudly to my aesthetic.

Green Modern Romantic Ketubah 
copyright - Masha Manapov

Blue Ketubah for the modern couple
copyright - Masha Manapov

Masha launched her Ketubah Collection on Feb 14, 2014 so it is still fresh and new. I hope she will continue to add new designs as I think she has a unique style that will be very popular with young couples looking for something new and refreshing. Her subject matter is traditional, but her approach is very new.

Ketubot are just one aspect of her work. She is best known for her illustration work, but I for one think that her Judaica portfolio is first rate and I am sure the world will agree with me!

I hope you enjoy her work as much as I do. (all images are copyright to Masha Manapov)

Lions Holiday Set
copyright - Masha Manapov

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Packing up my crafts, thinking of mom and dad

My mom loved painting flowers. This is one of her paintings.
My mom was incredibly talented. She was an artist, a potter and a talented curator of all things. She knew how to hang just the right painting in just the right spot and arrange beautiful combinations of artifacts on every shelf or table. She was so good at it, that friends and family asked her to come over when they moved into a new home to help arrange their art and beautiful things. She was always happy to oblige as it gave her great pleasure to see every piece of art perfectly situated.

Unfortunately for her, she was not born in a time of handmade marketplaces like etsy, where all of her talents could have been transformed into multiple careers. Or in a time of great opportunities to sell art and crafts in inspired surroundings at holiday craft shows.

Instead, she packed up her paintings and sat in very drab and boring shopping mall art shows, which she hated. But still, due to her amazing marketing skills (and my dad’s amazing calligraphy skills) she sold her paintings and brought joy to everyone that bought them.

Did I mention that my mother was very organized? And that my dad was very handy? Getting packed up for each mall art show was organized to the last detail. My dad built and painted the stands and rigged up a dolly to keep them tightly fastened to each other during transport. He added velcro tabs to his hand lettered signs: “Artwork by Florence Fruman”, so that they could be easily attached and detached at each show. Mom had a “satchel” that had all of the hardware she needed to hang the artwork on the stands: her business cards, receipt book (so she could keep track of where her painting would be living), signage, masking tape etc. which was always packed and ready to go for each show.

Before packing up the car, the paintings, which mom and dad framed themselves, were first wrapped in plastic and then carefully swaddled in an assortment of fluffy towels, and stacked in a big cardboard box on another dolly for that purpose. The stands, the paintings, the satchel, the box and the dollies all fit perfectly into the car.

They had a system.

At the end of each show, as if the film was being rewound, the paintings that had not sold were taken down, wrapped in plastic and then towels, stacked in the box, carted in the dolly, into the car, out of the car, unwrapped, and into storage until the next time.

Fast forward to Winter 2012. Florence Fruman’s daughters, Naomi (in Brooklyn) and Leslie (in Toronto) are busy stressing about how to pack up their crafts and set up a booth at their first craft shows!

I know that each of us, separately, thought of mom and dad every minute of the process. I thought about all the advice and encouragement they both would have given their girls if they were still alive. Dad would have hand painted signs for both of us and mom would have come to all of our shows and talked to all of the potential customers, encouraging them to buy our wares. Although we both did well at our first craft shows, I know we both would have sold more if mom were there. She was a “closer” when it came to sales. No one would have walked away empty handed!

It is hard to believe (and our dad would have been very proud), but Leslie managed to get all of her wares, her “satchel”, numerous folding tables, dollies and other booth infrastructure and decor into her tiny Volkswagen Beatle. The eggshell blue bug was packed and unpacked through November and December attending holiday craft shows in the Toronto area.

As for me, I packed up my “satchel”, ketubah prints, pillows and framed prints into a car service (Brooklyn style) and headed for Williamsburg for the finale weekend of the Brooklyn Night Bazaar.

And wouldn’t mom and dad be doubly pleased to know it was their grandson who dreamed up and produced the incredible Brooklyn Night Bazaar, so that his mom could have a table at her first ever craft show?

Thanks mom and dad for a life full of creativity and support, in this life and the next (and to our aunties, who have taken over supporting our creative endeavors where mom and dad left off).

Pottery by Leslie Fruman

My sister Leslie is a self taught potter, crafting nature-inspired functional art for your table and home. She is based in Toronto, but sells worldwide through her online etsy shop.

My booth at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar

I am a ketubah artist, digital painter and wanna be textile/surface designer. You can find my wedding related and judaica products at my etsy shop and my website, my pillows at envelop, my textiles at spoonflower, and my stock images at imagezoo.

Monday, December 10, 2012

A handfull of pillows, a whole lot of possibilities

I received a very small package today. I have been waiting for it for three weeks and the anticipation has been killing me. I wouldn't say I have been losing sleep, but I have been counting days and worrying about what I would find inside this very small package — that held five pillow covers I designed almost two years ago. They come without the pillow forms, so they all fit in one bubble envelope. Today was the day they finally arrived. And today was the day I actually got to see my foray into fabric design in real live products.

Kind of exciting.

It took me about 15 minutes to stuff the pillow liners I bought at IKEA last week carefully into each of my pillows. I wanted them to look really puffy and full. Once I had them all zipped up with the "as advertised" wonderful invisible zippers, I started playing with them. As I had envisioned when I was designing them, the backs and the fronts of these pillows can be interchanged and rearranged, giving you many many options of how to use them.

I am very pleased and I hope you will agree. They are quite cute and all go together in an interesting way. Five pillows go along way to create endless different looks. So if you decide to buy one of my pillows at my etsy shop, or directly through envelop, I really hope you will buy two or three, so that you can mix them up and change the look of your room just by flipping the pillows around.

Now that I have seen them in the flesh so to speak, you can be sure I will be finding some time to develop another series of my designs for your pillows. For now, here are my pillows, fronts and backs. For now they are available at envelop, soon they will be available at my etsy shop as well. They come in three sizes, so that is another way to mix and match. Have fun!

Fresh Coffee




Tea Time

These pillows will make their debut at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar on Dec 21st and 22nd, along with a bunch of other fresh creations I am cooking up as we speak.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Free Chanukkah download love

December 8th is the first night of Chanukkah (Hanukah, Chanuka, however you want to spell it!), otherwise known as the celebration of lights on our Jewish Calendar. As the story goes, after the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, one small cruse of olive oil that had escaped contamination (still kosher), which certainly should only have been enough for one day, miraculously, burned brightly for eight days.

To celebrate this miracle of miracles, we light candles for eight nights and eat every kind of unhealthy delight soaked in, fried in or otherwise full of oil. Sounds awful, but it is actually amazingly delicious.

We also have a tradition of giving gifts — and that is what I have in store for you.

In the spirit of the holiday I have prepared a pdf file of some Chanukkah printables just for you — that you can download here! Please print them as often as you like and share the file with your friends, just respect my copyright and keep it to personal use :)

The pdf includes an 8.5 x 11 poster, printable Chanukkah cards, and gift tags. Have fun!

And if you want to read a nice Chanukkah memory of mine about latkas you can find it here.

Or if you are confused about which candle to light when, and from which side of the Menora, you can check out another of my posts here.

And if you are interested in purchasing some more printable Chanukkah decorations at my etsy shop you can get there with this link.

Happy holidays one and all — and may your candles burn brightly and your house smell of fried onions and potatoes for eight glorious nights!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

New work to share (I am quite excited!)

A lot of ideas have been percolating in my mind for several months. Dozens of electronic files, folders with images and photos I have taken while traveling, bits and pieces of inspiration creating a collage of images in my mind. They have been cooking on the back burner for a long time.

This week I finally had some breakthroughs and I feel ready to share.

I have started listing the new items at my etsy shop and I am eager to get some feedback on my newest fresh creations.

Parchment impressions:
I am trying some digital collage using photography and my electronic artwork. Here are a couple of Ketubah close ups that are now for sale. If you click on the photo caption, it will take you to the item in my shop.

Ketubah love and flowers

Ketubah hamsa and pomegranates

Ketubah/ signing tree/guestbook series:
This I am really excited about. The best ideas come out of collaboration, don't you agree? A bride contacted me a few weeks ago. She confided in me that she has been dreading her ketubah search. What she really wanted was a ketubah and a signing tree all in one. But they don't exist. When she saw that I had both signing trees and ketubot in my shop, she asked shyly if there was any way I could combine the two.


What a great idea. I wish I had thought of it myself. In figuring out the details for her, I came up with a few more ideas, and I have many more in my head that I will be working on over the next few weeks. In the mean time here are a couple of thumbnails of three I have ready for sale. If you click on the photo caption, it will take you to the item in my shop.

Ketubah signing tree: Tree of life intertwined

Ketubah signing guestbook: Love Birds

Ketubah signing tree: Tree of life in full color

As soon as I have more pieces ready for sale, I will be bothering you again for your feedback!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

It's almost Rosh Hashanah. Are you ready?

Printable Jewish New Year card: Apples and Honey

In just over two weeks the High Holidays will be upon us. I thought I would make your lives a bit easier with a few new listing at my etsy shop. I have converted three of my card designs into printable pdf files in three sizes; 8.5 x 11, 4 x 6 and 5 x 7. They are customizable with your own personal message and can be sent out by email or printed at home on card stock. Print as many as you like for $9.

Printable Jewish New Year card: Apples and Honey

You can find the listings at the links below the images.

Printable Jewish New Year card: Pomegranates

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Fresh ideas I can relate to: Ketubah Love by Toby Simon

Soul Delights Anniversary Print
I bumped into Toby on one of my etsy searches to see what new ketubah artists had emerged while I was away travelling. I was interested to see if there were any new trends emerging that would inspire me.

When I saw Toby’s “Soul Delights Anniversary Print”, I was smitten immediately. You all know how much I love patterns and fabric design. Well, here is someone, who often makes her own fabric and THEN creates beautiful fabric art compositions, with this fabric and THEN adds her own calligraphy to create magnificent ketubot. Now that is a fresh idea I can relate to! My heart was bursting!

I knew there had to be an interesting story behind this multi-talented woman. I contacted her almost immediately to congratulate her on her original work and ask her if she would be willing to be interviewed here.

I could tell right away that she was a thoughtful person. I provided my questions and she carefully crafted her answers. The resulting interview, I hope will give you an insight into the passions and process of this amazingly talented lady.

Tree of Life Ketubah

With no further adieu, may I introduce Toby Simon!

Q. Hi Toby. Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

A. I’m an artist in San Francisco whose creative interests range from drawing, writing calligraphy, playing the violin, and quilting. I live with my very vibrant and inquisitive daughter, Mona, and husband, Dave, whose interests are equally as eclectic as mine (everything from beer making to quilting to gardening to pickling). While my full time job is raising my daughter, I am an innately creative person and aspire to turn my art into a sustainable income.

Q. Now let’s hear about the creative part in a bit more detail. Tell us about your three passions — Judaica, calligraphy, and fabric arts.
Merging calligraphy with illustration is a really fun technique that can bring life to words and depth to an image. This tree is filled with the words “Etz Chaim” and “Chai” which I laid out to give texture to the leaves and dimension to the trunk.

This gesture of a Hannukah Menorah was painted with an old stick of mascara . I used colored pencil to strengthen the form and illuminate the image.
A. Having grown up with bits of Judaica throughout almost every room in my parents’ house, designing Jewish art was always on my radar. After graduating college I began applying my English calligraphy to a stationery business (my other Etsy shop), but still kept an eye on what Ketubah artists were doing since it was an art form that always excited me. For me, and, I would venture to guess, for many Jewish calligraphers, designing Ketubot is a natural direction to explore after discovering Hebrew calligraphy; it is a wonderful way to showcase your love for lettering.

It wasn’t until some time in ’08 that I finally decided to try my hand at illustrating and painting a Ketubah. I was not happy with the results and felt extremely discouraged. It looked forced and plain and didn’t hold a candle to what was out there. I knew the only way to compete with the countless talented artists in the field was to find my own artistic voice. It was particularly designers like Melissa Dinwiddie whose beautiful work I used as motivation to improve my own standard.

Q. But Toby, how did you dream up combining all three?

A. It wasn’t until a few years later when I discovered my knack for combining fabrics and patterns did I realize I finally had an art form worthy enough to apply to the world of Ketubot.

Combining the three elements was actually the easiest part. There’s a satisfaction we get in bottlenecking our passions into one solid direction. I had the Judaica theme to guide my new art form; A Carte Blanche aesthetic (“painting” with fabrics) with a theme I loved (Judaica art with lots of room for lettering). It was a relief.

Q. “Painting with fabrics” is a beautiful way of describing what you are doing. Are you printing your own fabric?

A. Yes, I’ve begun designing and printing my own. At the moment I mostly use ready designed fabric scraps that I’ve collected from stores, quilting festivals and over-the-hill clothing. However when I can’t find a particular pattern in my stash I will create it myself. Another reason I’ve begun designing fabrics is because it allows me continue drawing, painting, and experimenting with writing tools; skills I’ve been building since college. The drawing table is my happy place and I really don’t want to abandon it!

Written with flat edged pen fountain pen and shaded with colored pencil.  I repeated and staggered the block of letters to create this fabric
 Q. Are you willing to share your secrets? Can you tell us how you do it?

A. Sure! Designing a fabric starts with an illustration or motif that I scan and repeat in Photoshop. I then print it on my ink jet printer onto C. Jenkins Miracle Fabric Sheets. You simply feed the fabric sheet through the printer, press it with a warm iron, and then peel off the paper backing. It’s genius if you only need small swatches of patterns. I’ve also sent some prints to Spoonflower when I wanted to have a ½ or full yard.

Q. How long have you been developing this completely unique style?

A. For about two and a half years I’d say. Right before my daughter was born, my husband surprised me with a sewing machine. I’d been making him little patches by hand as birthday presents – cutting animal shapes and sewing them on hats and scarves – which took a very long time, and I think he was curious to see what I would make with a machine. I went searching for reading material on sewing basics, but then I would get sidetracked by books about patchwork and fabric collage, and I ended up delving into that art form and running with it.

Q. I imagine, I am not the first to shower you with accolades about your work. How is your work being received?

A. Thanks! I’ve gotten lots of positive feedback about how they are unique and not a style people have seen with Ketubot before. I also receive a lot of comments such as “I wish I could get married again so I could order a Ketubah from you” or “I wish I was Jewish…” For this reason I've started selling several of the designs as art prints without the Ketubah text so that anyone can enjoy them.

Tree of Life Art Print

Q. I see that your ketubot on etsy are prints of your fabric art with calligraphy overlaid. Have you ever created a fabric ketubah with hand lettered text right on the fabric? If someone wanted to commission you to do that, would it be possible?

A. Yes I’d be happy to discuss creating a commissioned Ketubah. While I probably wouldn’t write out that large a body of text directly onto a piece of fabric, I can easily scan a large body of text and print that onto a Fabric Sheet and sew that into an original quilt. To inquire about a fully commissioned Ketubah people can get in touch with me through my Etsy shop or directly through my website at

Q. How do you see this developing over time? Do you see this evolving into other Judaica one of a kind pieces?

A. I do have big plans for Ketubah Love. I’m working on evolving it into a Judaica shop with fabric goodies and stationery for Jewish holidays and Simchot. Mona has just started preschool and I have a baby boy due in November, and I plan to use the time before his arrival to churn out some exciting work.

WOW! The more I learn about Toby, the more amazed I am.

To find out more about Toby and her creations, you can visit her ketubah love etsy shop, her Savor the date etsy shop and her website (where you can see actual video of her process). And if you head to, and “Like” her Facebook page you can be included in Rosh Hashanah give away to one of her new Facebook fans really soon. I recommend coming back often to check up on her. I expect great things from Toby. She is a true artist with a passion, and very high standards for herself and her work. The sky is the limit on what fresh idea she will come up with next.

Thanks Toby for sharing your story with us! And best of luck with Ketubah Love!