Thursday, December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

As 2010 comes to a close and I celebrate the first anniversary of this blog and all that I have tried to accomplish (sigh!), I just wanted to send a note of good cheer, thanks and holiday hugs to everyone who took the time to answer my emails when I needed help figuring this all out — to everyone that read my ramblings and left messages here or on facebook – to all of the weddings I have felt so privileged to be a part of through my Ketubah work — to all of the talented people I have met vicariously through my web browsing and blog posting — to my business partner Violet who let me play instead of work this whole last year — to my extended family that have been so supportive of my second career — to Spoonflower for existing — and to the online community at large for being so open and giving.  And the biggest thanks of all to all of the amazing people that found me on etsy and purchased my work. It has been an amazing year of discovery and growth. As in so many things, it takes a village ... so happy to have you all as a part of mine!

Here's wishing you all a safe and happy holiday season from Fresh Creations, Fresh Ketubah and me!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Poppytalk Boxing Week and Pre-Valentine Market Dec 20 - Jan 17

The Poppytalk Boxing Week and Pre-Valentine Market is officially open! (that's me!) has a table at the market which you can visit here. I have focused on my Ketubah work but promise to have some Valentines Day items up within the week. Check back often as I will be changing things up every week.

But enough about me. I took a walk through the market this morning and found some great talent that I am excited to share with you.

Amy Komar

Anyone that can find beautiful gems from nature and then make them into art is automatically on my A list!

Amy has a lovely shop where you can view her painted rocks, paper birch hearts and her beautiful paintings. She hails from Alaska, and her etsy bio is a long list of the things she loves — like  “coast line blue/peony cream”, “people who smile with their eyes”, and “how the Desert smells in the spring”  How cute is that! Visit her table at the poppytalk market.

Matte Stephens

I have happened upon Matte’s etsy shop before, but I was thrilled to go through his table at the poppytalk market.  He is what you might call FAMOUS! He has created illustrations for Herman Miller, American Express, Uppercase Magazine and the likes of Disney, to name a few. Shows all over the place and has work in too many galleries to list. Kind of feels good to be hobnobbing with the likes of Matte Stephens at this market!

Merry Blues Art

Merry Blues Art does not have any bio information at her poppytalk table but I was able to find out a little about her at her etsy shop. All of her items are eco friendly, many printed on banana paper. (I have no idea what that is, but you can be sure I am going to find out).

I think she is a genus for so many reasons. First her illustrations style is so yummy, it seems to melt into the paper. I have an art school friend, Anna, who could also make every line or brush stroke seem like it just left the brush and embedded itself into the sheet of paper. Secondly, I looove her ideas for calendar binding. Buttons! Wooden pant hangers! Fabulous! And the calendars themselves are so magnificent. Lastly, she (I wish I knew her name...) also takes the time to do her part to improve the world. she is motivated and inspired by a variety of social causes and is able to give back to them through Merry Blues Art by making regular donations.

These are my picks for today. What fun!

Oh, and just a reminder, you can visit my table at the market 24/7 until Jan 17. Or check out the shop local section!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ta dah! introducing (at long last) Violet Finvers Glass!

Violet and I met at art school so many many moons ago. We studied together and then found our first jobs together, and as if it was ordained by a higher power, we founded Tandem Design Associates together. Twenty odd successful years later, we both found ourselves craving an outlet — not quite so corporate. I have been waiting for ages to give you a glimpse of what happened to Violet after taking a fusing workshop from accomplished glass artist, Brock Craig.

I can't remember if the workshop was one afternoon or a couple of sessions, but it was barely enough time for most students to even understand what they were doing. Violet was a natural and she was hooked within hours. I met her teacher, Brock, at a small exhibition of three glass artists in Vancouver a few months ago and he told me that in all his years of teaching, Violet was by far the best student he has ever had. Since I have spent most of the daylight hours of the past twenty years working with her, I know he was not exaggerating.

She is set up now with a home glass studio and is taking her new craft very seriously. Her website is up and running and she is ready to take on new orders and commissions. Initially she was working in two styles which she calls kiln carved glass and colour bars. As of my last discussion with her, she is developing new work that follows a different path. Can't wait to see what she has cooking!

Violet is a perfectionist and each piece is designed and executed to the highest level. The final products are for the most part functional — but so stunning — it seems a shame to find a practical use for them. The light passing through these amazing creations, is in itself, a work of art.

So what are you waiting for? Check out her new website and  buy a piece of Violet Finvers Glass!   

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fresh ideas I can relate to — pots and shells to put things in by my sister Leslie

I just have to post about this! My sister is making the most amazing things.

The back story: Leslie and I come from an amazingly creative and artistically prolific family. As kids, we had endless exposure to all kinds of art making. We both remember fondly, attending a pottery night class with our mom and aunt where we learned to make pinch pots and hand build vases and bowls. Mom went on to do much more after both of us left home — but for us, that was the end of the story.

It must be at least 35 years since either of us had the feel of clay under our fingernails. That is why I am so blown away by what Leslie is up to now.

Can you just die from these beautiful shell bowls?  I can't stop looking at them!

Leslie signed up for a pottery class (that was designated for both hand building and wheel) and after the first week, was producing amazing results. Of course, following the rules or doing what the teacher asks, is not in her vocabulary (she comes by that very honestly by the way). While her classmates, were content learning to make pots on the wheel, Leslie was determined to do her own thing — wrapping clay around paper plates, gourds, and other organic objects. You can see from the number of pieces in this photo, that doing anything in a small way, was not an option. You may also be interested to know, that she got in big trouble with her teacher for buying clay on the side and working all week at home, rather than simply resigning herself to working during class time. When she showed up on week two with all of these shell bowls ready to glaze and fire, there were a few eye balls rolling.

Not surprisingly, after finishing the last session of her pottery class this week, she has already bought a kiln and we can expect there will be many more of these precious pieces in the works soon.

In addition to these small precious vessels (perfect for your earrings or sea salt), Leslie has made a series of deliciously beautiful pots “to put things in” —Ice cream, cereal, garlic... I am deriving a lot of pleasure just looking at them sitting on a table.

Oh and by the way, when her hands are not in lumps of clay, she is producing and directing documentaries for television — I am very proud indeed!

And did I mention that she is making art on her ipad? David Hockney watch out!

Kol Hakavod sis!

Getting ready for my first Poppytalk market

Well — I took the plunge, and contacted Jan and Earl at Poppytalk when I noticed that the next themed market is — I can hardly believe it — Holiday Sale & Pre-Wedding/Valentine Market  It runs from Dec 20, 2010 - January 14, 2011. And I will have a virtual table at the market. Not to worry, I will remind you to visit—I will set up a link from here once the market is open (very excited!).

Images to be uploaded must be square so I spent the day re photographing my ketubot. It was a challenge but I think I have figured it out.

I also had some pre-Valentine fun!

Friday, December 10, 2010

A nice surprise at One of a Kind Vancouver

Violet and I have been visiting local craft shows as a kind of research for our own crafty endeavors.  Today we took a stab at One of a Kind Vancouver. Here is a description from their website: This holiday find everything you need under one roof at the One of a Kind Show and Sale. 250 of North America's most talented artists & designers will showcase unique gift ideas for everyone on your list.

We were both underwhelmed by the event. But there was one very bright moment for me. Almost as soon as we walked in I spied Jeannette Ordas of everybody likes sandwiches and the beautiful project fame. Since I have become quite the groupie for successful bloggers and etsians, I had to go to her booth and introduce myself. I had in fact contacted Jeannette way back last year some time, when I was just discovering etsy and trying to figure out how it all worked. Since she was a local Vancouverite, I hoped to glean some tips from the successful food blogger/web designer/illustrator. I asked her what she did to become so famous. Just like the bubbly gal I met today, here was her lighthearted response:

"Hi Naomi, nice to hear from you. I wonder if you have the wrong person....becoming famous? Not me! For me, my card business is just one of many things I do.  I'm a web designer, a food blogger and a card maker/illustrator (along with wife, bowler, bike-rider, thrifter, traveller, etc.)."

She then graciously proceeded to list some great links that would be helpful to me.
It was great to meet face to face and to see that the etsy maven who has sold 1,490 items to date on her etsy site (one card at a time), was an amazingly warm and friendly individual. Of course she didn't remember my email but was very happy to meet me in any case. I learned last week when I discovered Poppytalk that Jeannette is a weekly contributor there as well.

I will leave you with one of her cards—they make everyone (including me) giggle!

Monday, December 6, 2010

From DIY to e-vites or visa versa

I spent a bit of time a few weeks ago thinking about, and working on some wedding invitation ideas. This weekend, I started thinking in another direction— e-vites. I have developed a couple of ideas for eco-conscience couples trying to find a way to keep their weddings on target. Sending invitations by email saves on ink and paper and the cost of stamps. Not to mention saving the postal trucks traveling to all corners of the earth to deliver the invitations and then returning the reply cards. I know this option is not for everyone, but I thought it would be nice to offer it as an alternative.

The save the dates and invitations are designed to fit on 5" x 7" or 4" x 6" standard photo paper stock, so if you want to change e-vite to DIY-vite you can do that as well. The package includes thank you cards as well in the form of one sided cards (4 on an 8.5" x 11" sheet). I couldn't figure out an effective way to produce e-thank you notes, so at least this option uses half the paper.

Some baby shower ideas in the works as well ...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Making good latkas is really a science—or is it?

It is almost impossible to take a good picture of fried grated potatoes and onions, but we all know that no matter what it looks like, the smell of potatoes in bubbling oil is something engraved in our DNA right next to matza slathered with salted butter. These are the things we wait all year for, knowing that if we ate them all year round, our arteries would never be able to handle it.

As I was making this year's first batch of latkas, I was reminded as I always am at this time of the year, of one of the Chanukkah traditions on Kibbutz Adamit (where we spent 10 of the best year's of our lives).

30 years ago of course we all lived in small apartments, with our children in children's houses, and had all of our meals in the communal dining room. At some point during the 8 days of Chanukkah, we had a latka competition. Every family came to the chadar ochel (dining room) with their hot plates and frying pans in hand. All the ingredients—flour, eggs, potatoes, onions, seasoning and oil—were waiting for us on tables.

It is hard to remember all of the details, but you can be sure that every family had their own special way of making latkas. Was there a recipe book in sight? Not on your life. An actual measuring cup? Not likely. But the aroma of potatoes and onions, the light dusting of flour on every imaginable surface, the wide eyed children watching blobs of gooey grated potatoes and onions forming into unimaginably delicious golden latkas—well it was priceless.

I can't remember how the competition actually went. It would have been hard to find a bad latka in the place. What has really stuck with me was the experience itself.

I follow the same process today. My latkas are never from a recipe. I lay out my ingredients just like I did 30 years ago with little Aaron at my side in the chader ochel. I keep adding this and that until it feels right—and you know, it has never failed me. So the science of latkas for me is—who you are making them with—and who you are making them for. It is as simple as that.

I bet you have a latka story. I would love to hear it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Happy Chanukkah everyone!

I don't know about you, but for me, the hardest part about my Chanukkah preparations is remembering from which side the first candle is lit. Of course, I also have trouble remembering how to set the table correctly (fork on the left or right?) Luckily for me someone once told me that "fork" is four letters and "left" has four letters so you can usually see me mouthing these words as I set the table raising my left hand to be sure I know which is which.

I don't have that handy tool for Chanukkah. but luckily I have the internet and can each year check to be sure I have it right. I just checked—and wouldn't you know it it is the far right side. Well from now on, I will simply remember that doing it "right: is to put the first candle on the far "right".

My second problem is remembering the third blessing. For some reason I can always remember the first two but the third one eludes me. it is not that I always forget one of the three, but that I always forget the third one...

So if there are any of you out there with a similar problem. Here are the three blessings for this evening and instructions for the second through eighth night:

  1. First Blessing to Recite
    Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom Asher Kiddeshonu Be-mitsvoysov Ve-tsivonu Lehadlik Neyr Shel khanuko.
    Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us to kindle the lights of Hanukkah.
  2. Second Blessing to Recite
    Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-oso Nissim La-avoseynu Ba-yyomim Ho-heym Ba-zzman Ha-zze.
    Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, who wrought miracles for our fathers in days of old, at this season.
  3. Third Blessing to Recite (only on the first night of Hanukkah)
    Borukh Ato Adoynoy Eloyheynu Melekh Ho-oylom She-hekheyonu Ve-kiymonu Ve-higgi'onu La-zzman Ha-zze.
    Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.
  4. How to Light on the Second through Eighth Night
    The second night, place two candles in the Menorah's far right (as you face the Menorah) candle holders. Another candle is placed for the Shamash (helper candle). Say the first two blessings above and then light the candles using the Shamash candle. Light the left-most candle first and then light in order, from left to right. Follow this procedure for each night of Hanukkah.
And if you want to practice Maoz Tzur for tonight, you can listen to the song and print out the words here.

Chag Samach everyone!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Right under my nose and I had no idea they were here...

Curated blogs such as Design Sponge, Print and Pattern, Etsy stalker and Apartment Therapy have been part of my daily routine for the past year since I discovered blogging. But I was really taken aback when I happened on Poppytalk today for the first time. Poppytalk is (according to their website) the first to offer a curated marketplace and they are right here in Vancouver! Not only that, but they focus on handmade and emerging designers.

From their blog:
“We are proud to be "the original curated marketplace" (having come up with the concept first) and are proud to be number one (email us for details) for bringing the best results to it's participants! Now in our second year, we are dedicated to supporting emerging artists by giving them a "fair" and best option to have their work seen online.”

They cater to a young demographic and the work I have seen just today really inspired me.

There are a couple of ways to hook up with them. Either through their curated themed markets or by advertising with them. I believe that the advertising is also curated but I need to read more about it.

The trick is to fit into their themes, which I am not very good at. Not likely there will be a theme for Jewish weddings anytime soon ...  but I am intrigued about what they are up to and when I get up enough nerve, I will contact Jan and Earl. Hey—they are right here—and so am I!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Dear Diary: If you have patience, you will reap the rewards.

I can't believe it's Friday again. Where does the time go? Of course there was that last minute ketubah for a wedding next Saturday in New York, but really—the true culprit was getting some real new work done. It is easy to recycle all the stuff I have already done. Making new art is soooo much harder.

There are moments when I must take myself in hand and say—OK—it is time to get down to it and try to come up with something different. The kind of hard creative work that makes me yawn over and over again and makes my eyes tear and my legs cramp and my hands freeze (I mean really from the cold but also from concentrating so hard). The kind of work that makes the day seem long and makes me wonder if in fact I have it in me.

A few weeks back, cousin Sheryl called to talk about a new avenue for my work. "I think I have an idea to expand your business" she said. "Now that you have weddings covered, what about birth certificates?" I was quick to say that I was way ahead of her and had been playing around with some ideas but hadn't really gotten far enough with it to do something serious about it. She was very encouraging and assured me I would come up with something great.

Well that was kind of the kiss of death.

Now there were expectations... It was for some reason like a lead weight I couldn't get out from under—So I gave myself a shake this week, and between rush ketubah jobs and trips to the post office and Fedex I started doing research and started putting some ideas together.

Then I let them sit for a few days ...  and you know, I am kind of excited about the results.

First I researched the Jewish tradition of baby naming which is to officially present the child with a Hebrew name, usually honoring a loved one who has passed on. I wanted to create a certificate that documented the baby’s key statistics, English and Hebrew names as well as the dearly departed family members that were being honoured by the naming. In the tradition of ketubah artwork, I wanted to decorate the document with meaningful symbolism.

click to enlarge

Since pomegranates are a symbol of fertility and bees and butterflies pollinate and fertilize, these elements seemed like a great beginning.

click to enlarge

In both designs, the background faded leaves form a subtle Star of David. Not everyone will see this detail, but I know it's there.

These two designs will be are for sale at my etsy shop next week now. The text will be totally customizable and I think I will offer two sizes based on off the shelf frames.

And this is not the end of my weeks accomplishments. But I will save that for another post...

Monday, November 15, 2010

But she MADE me do it!

When two of my  DIY Hanukkah decorations listings sold on Sunday, I got really pumped! When I checked to see who had bought them, I was surprised to see that a certain cousin of mine in Winnipeg had bought the second one! I shot off an email right away—hey you didn't have to do that! Family after all have privileges. I know he reads this blog, so I will keep his name to myself, but his reply still has me giggling. “She made me do it” he wrote, blaming his adorable wife who is probably right now cutting out dreidle and candle decorations.

Well I couldn't help myself. I sat down and designed this new set of cards for them.

These cards are on their way to you my unnamed Winnipeg cousins, as a thank you for being so cute and for supporting my new business!

The rest of you can find the new listing at my shop. But hurry, Hanukkah is only a couple of weeks away. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Diary of a Ketubah artist: So now what?

Dear Diary:
This week’s Ketubah orders under control—check. New designs for in production—check. Daily perusal of Design Sponge, Print and Pattern and Apartment therapy done—check. First load of laundry in the machine—check.

So now what?

There has been a lot of visualizing, and a lot of tossing and turning about whether or not it makes sense to expand my ketubah work into full blown collections. I can't help myself. Every time I develop a new ketubah design, the elements immediately transform into other wedding related products—like invitations, thank you cards, save the date... Yikes!

And then of course I am also really (really!) hoping to find a way to economically move forward with Chuppah designs on silk. There are still a lot of challenges ahead but I am hoping that I can work through them. It would be soooo exciting to see my designs (like this one) on beautiful flowing fabric!

This week there was time to think about all of these things. A little window to put together mock-ups and see if any of these ideas are worth pursuing. I get really excited about every new idea but I also realize that my getting giddy about this design or that is not exactly marketing research! So one small step at a time...

I have made some progress on one other idea. I am calling them wedding mementos. For couples that have already purchased one of my ketubah designs, this mini ketubah will have their design (with their customized text) nicely placed on the page with their names and wedding date in a beautiful calligraphic font. This really feels right. Such a nice gift for their parents, grand parents or members of the wedding party. I managed to get some time to work on a couple of mock-ups this week and hope to have them finalized for the shop soon.

And what about e-vites? If getting into the wedding stationery business proves to be just a bit over my head, I may take the next little window of time that makes it self available to me, to investigate developing a line of customized wedding invitations that go out by email. A green alternative!

I have also been thinking about how lucky I am to be living in this beautiful city, doing what I love.

Enough thinking for one day. Over and out.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Diary of a Ketubah artist: entry #1

Dear Diary:
My etsy shop has been open since August. And the best part of having my own shop is meeting each and every couple I have the pleasure of working with. Each couple that chooses my work for their special day is unique. In the few weeks that we send our convos and emails back and fourth to each other, a relationship develops that is really special. Sometimes it is the groom who initiates contact, sometimes the bride. By the end of the process I really feel like I have made new friends. I am always so excited on the day of their wedding, thinking about my artwork being a part of such a special day for them. Even more exciting is when I get a quick email from one of them thanking me for the ketubah and the experience.

“I received the ketubah yesterday, and it's beautiful!! Thank you so much for such a wonderful online shopping experience. I am very pleased with everything.”

“Thanks for this update and all your patience!!! Your work is really beautiful and I'd be very happy to recommend you to anyone.”

“Our ketubah came today! It is gorgeous - we love it!
Thank you so much for all your help. It was a pleasure to work with you.”

With each project comes it's own challenges, like this week—I had to figure out how to piece together the Conservative text with Lieberman clause correctly. Rabbi David and his listserv came to my rescue with lots of advice and texts to review. And then I have Ellen and Anat in Jerusalem to translate and proof my work. As they say it takes a village ... And what a village I have!

Two weeks ago a bride in Sydney Australia came to me with a request for turnaround time that was not going to be possible through conventional methods. I couldn't take any chances that the package would be stopped at customs or delayed in any way.  I decided that the best solution was to find a giclee printer in Sydney who could print the final ketubah for me. Thanks to Tom at Vision Image Lab in Sydney, all went smoothly and another crisis was averted. 

Every week brings new and exciting interactions and challenges. What I have found so far is that there is never a challenge big enough to discourage me, and most importantly, that anyone I have approached for help or encouragement has been extremely generous.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Spoonflower sampler arrived!

I bit the bullet and ordered samples of a handful of my fabric designs. They arrived today in a very cute packet wrapped in tissue with a spoonflower label. I couldn't help but photograph my precious bundle! Now that I have tested them (and they really are cute!) they are available for sale.

So if you are in the mood for a super cute shower curtain or are wanting to sew up some adorable sun dresses for your winter holiday, or new curtains for your bedroom, or a table cloth for your dining room or pillows for your couch, check out my new fabrics for sale at spoonflower!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

More DIY fun

With one calendar finished, I thought I should try to put together another version that was a bit more dressed up for gift giving. So I took out my pattern paintbox and put this calendar package together. This pdf prints on 8.5 x 11 sheets that are cut in half. A pretty cover and back cover are also part of the kit as well as a band to tie it all together and gift card to make the package complete. This 5.5 x 8.5 set will fit into a standard 8 3/4 x 5 3/4 envelope. So your set. this can be a holiday card and present all in one.

You can find this printable pdf listing at my shop.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Embracing DIY

My etsy shop is on holiday mode while I take a short holiday and also prepare for Chanukah, Christmas and the Ketubah busy season after the winter holidays. Lots of great stuff going on in the backgorund while I come up with fresh creations.

DIY is really high on my list. In fact, I have a new folder on my computer dedicated to just that!

My first project will be a 2011 calendar you can print yourself. Each 8.5 x 11 page you print out will have two months on it.

Each page will have a  5" x 7" pattern painting on the left side, so that when the two months are over, you will have a pattern painting to frame in your favourite off the shelf 5" x 7" frame.

Here are a couple of the images in the works... I hope to have two or three different calendars available in 2011. 

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cheating is just not right—Pattern theft

I am a big fan of Orange You Lucky by Helen Dardik. Recently I stared following her with more regularity, only to find a very distressing headline: Pattern Theft. You can read all about it on her blog. She has had at least one of her patterns copied almost exactly and manufactured and sold under another name. The worst of it is that she happened on it herself while checking out one of her favourite blogs.

More distressing still is that several comments to her story had links to other designers sites where similar things had happened.

Such as a blog post by Made By Girl. Embarrassingly, the culprit—Jack-in-the-box designs is a Canadian company. Shame on you!!

and this post by Tula Pink  about hearing that her beautiful fabrics had been poorly copied and were getting sold at Walmart.

It is easy to let your guard down with all of us so freely blogging and sharing our ideas. My heart goes out to anyone who has worked so hard to get where they are, only to find that someone has underhandedly and against the laws of every country copied and profited in such a despicable way.

Each of these links gives you information on how to email the retailers involved. I am sure that there will be follow up so keep posted. Unfortunately, there are many more stories to be told.