An evening of Bling! Bling! Bling! Turning Trash into Treasures

Anna VanDelman writes:

On this winter night, two dozen Pomegranate members came together with the warmth of camaraderie for an evening workshop, turning trash into treasures.

Paula Miller – teacher, exquisite fabric artist, designer, inventive recycler – presented instructions for the transformation of junk into brooches using discarded beads, threads, paint, fabric charms etc. Members brought their own stash items and The Guild brought out enormous quantities of resource materials.

Thanks to Paula’s display of items she brought and created for this project, we were inspired to create our own new treasures. This programme reminded us of how important it is for us to work on various projects in an atmosphere of friendship and shared ideas.

Thank you Paula for a memorable evening!

 

Shirts Galore and A Trip to Japan

Anna Vandelman writes:

Shirts Galore!
What a lovely evening! What a lovely programme! What a lovely turnout! What an amazing group!

Rapunzel - courtesy of Susan Avishai

Rapunzel – courtesy of Susan Avishai

Susan Avishai was introduced to us by Rikki Blitt as a heroine to the environment and saviour of all sorts of trash en route to landfills everywhere: A perfect way to start the season as our theme for the year is Do not waste – with a focus on reuse and recycling. [About Susan]

Susan, already a fine artist in drawing, painting, and collage, shared her journey to fibre arts through pictures of her work. She told us how she got into fibre arts after cleaning out her late mother’s belongings. After grieving over her mother’s clothes for six months, Susan finally found herself able to do something with this new stash. So, she moved from painting to textiles to making tapestries of her mom’s remnants. She discovered through life that it is in fact the journey and not the destination. She fondly remembers a teacher who told her “…you will feel when its right”.

And then, men’s shirts galore! We saw an incredible collage of men’s shirts, shirts taken apart with seams and buttons intact all quilted with polyfill. She works on smaller pieces and then sews them into larger works. Her goal, always, is to see what she can do with what is there. No, she is not sexist, she uses men’s shirts because of their uniformity of construction which lets her apply a system to their deconstruction.

The evening became magical as we witnessed the transformation of trash to exquisite art pieces .created by a visionary with a deep concern for the environment. Thank you Susan for this memorable experience!

Rikki then thanked her for a magnificent presentation and for kick-starting our year of Do not Waste and members had an opportunity to share from their own stashes.

The theme continued in October with A Night in Japan, and Karen Sanders writes:

Our October meeting included a lesson in Japanese Furoshiki and a visit to Japan through the eyes of our President.

Furoshiki
Four women from the Japanese Cultural Centre came to tell us the history and to demonstrate the ancient Japanese art of Furoshiki, the use of textile squares for wrapping. Furoshiki refers to a flat folded bundle originally used to carry clothes back and forth from the bath-house. With current environmental concerns, there has been a revival of this old practice.

The most common size of fabric for wrapping is an 18” or 24” square of fabric. A silk scarf is ideal for the purpose of wrapping, though other sizes and fabrics can also be used.

There are many uses of Furoshiki including carrying, storage, gift wrap, wall hanging, tote bag, carrier for contributions to a pot luck meal. The squares are easy to maintain, eco friendly, easy to fold flat. The squares can be left as gifts or put in a pocket or purse to reuse.

Our guests demonstrated the basic knot, flat object wrap, basic carry wrap, bottle carry wrap, hand bag, watermelon carry bag, and shoulder bag. We had an opportunity to try our skill at wrapping.

The art of Furoshiki is simple, elegant, useful and fulfills our mission of reusing and recycling beautiful fabrics.

Living Singly and Jewishly in Japan
Nearly thirty years ago our President, Bruria, was young, single, teaching English and living in Japan. She found that it was easy to be Jewish because there was a synagogue and community centre, which included a swimming pool. Expatriate Jews gathered regularly for Shabbat dinners and for Jewish holidays.

In a slide presentation, Bruria illustrated a number of Jewish subjects she encountered in Japan. These included a Japanese Yiddish Club, The Fugu Plan (a book telling the story of how the Japanese rescued Jews during the Holocaust), the story of Chiune Sugihara, who gave exit visas to Jews during World War II. There was a Jewish dentist, a Chabad branch with a mikvah and a Japanese man who had converted and become a Rabbi. There was a man with an excellent collection of Hebrew manuscripts and a Japanese pro-Israel group.

The rest of the slide show illustrated the quirkiness of the Japanese. Bruria shared such interesting things to be found in the grocery store as bottles of diet water, hard boiled eggs in a tube, and sushi with “Hello Kitty” faces. She showed us a road going through a building and some of the many space saving devices like shoe drawers on the underside of steps or a combined toilet/sink. There were dogs dressed in kimonos, women dressed as dolls, and men dressed as women. These are just a few examples. Bruria had a good time in Japan, but we are glad she came back to us!

Make in the summer and show in the winter – call for entry for Judaic Art and Jewelry Fair

Marilyn Levy shares the following proposal call

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Shalom,
We are delighted to invite you to submit your art for our jury.  Moriah Congregation’s Biennial All-Judaic Art & Jewelry Fair will be held Saturday night, Motzei Shabbat, 

February 27, Sunday, February 28 and Monday, February 29, 2016, with Patron Preview on Thursday, February 25, 2016.  Our exhibitors are nationally and internationally acclaimed artisans; from Judaic artists working in diverse media to creators of inspiring jewelry.  And, once again, we are welcoming clothing and purse designers!

Moriah Congregation is a vibrant, Conservative synagogue with an involved community located in Chicago’s affluent North Shore.  Our shows have been extremely profitable for both Moriah and the participating artists. Our last show welcomed over 2,000 customers and had more than 800 individual sales.

Feedback from our artists who have participated in previous fairs has been very positive; friendly home hospitality, an inviting Jewish community and the feeling of being warmly welcomed are typical comments. In addition, the Fair provides a wonderful opportunity to establish new contacts with Chicago Judaic retailers and gift shops. Extensive advertising and promotion will be done throughout the Chicagoland community for this show.

Please note the following:

  • All artists are required to be present to sell only their creations.
  • There is no charge to exhibit.
  • Moriah receives 20% of each artist’s gross sales. 
  • Kosher meals are provided for all of our artists from set-up to tear-down at Moriah. 
  • Out-of-town artists are provided with home hospitality from Wednesday, February 24 –  Tuesday, March 1, 2016. 

For more information and entry form click here: http://www.moriahcong.org/ArtFair

Celebrate: Critiques and Book Construction

Karen Sanders reports: On Wednesday May 20, our Artist-in-Residence Laya Crust gave the final session of her year-long theme of Celebration. Initially she spoke about the concept of a critique. A critique is not a criticism. It is an analysis of what you can do to make your work better. The person giving the critique should be objective, starting and ending with something positive, sensitive about not destroying the ego of the person whose work is being critiqued. Next Laya spoke about book construction, giving examples of fabric books, then of folded paper books. She supplied paper, glue, scissors, and ribbon so that we could make accordion fold books. Her directions are included here. Thank you, Laya, for a year of celebrating ourselves, our work, and our textiles!

Meetings March and April

Anna Vandelman reports:

Meeting March 18th, 2015
Our Artist in Residence, Laya Crust, took us through an extensive review of Passover just as we entered the last few weeks of making our own Pesach.

She shared the artistic history of the Haggadah with a table full of beautiful examples. She showed us how the art in each Haggadah revealed local customs as well as social and political issues through elements such as clothing, furniture, buildings, symbols, and artistic style. The first printed map of Israel occurs in a Haggadah of 1526, the first etching of the Four Sons in a Haggadah of 1695, and the political aspirations of the Jewish Brigade are expressed in its Haggadah of 1943. And, we see how marketing gimmicks promote the use of particular Haggadot: Once coffee was available kosher for Passover, Maxwell House capitalized on that by providing a Haggadah with the purchase of a jar of coffee. We can see in the variety of Haggadot that its themes are continually reinterpreted, in text, but especially in art.

Members then examined Passover artifacts brought in by other Guild members. And we all started working on a hands-on activity of designing a Passover apron: to wear for getting the kitchen clean, making the chicken soup or gefilte fish, or engaging younger members in the family in the process. Thank you Leah for an exciting programme.

Meeting April 15th 2015
Our April meeting was an exciting co-presentation by the Pomegranate Guild and Darchei Noam synagogue, at Darchei Noam. The lecture and exhibit of her art by Dr. Myriam Nafte blew us all away!

Myriam Nafte discussing her work

Myriam Nafte discussing her work

Sara Petroff, Chair of the Art Committee at Darchei Noam welcomed us all and introduced Pomegranate Guild president Karen Chisvin. As this evening was the eve of Yom HaShoah, Karen commemorated the event with remarks that honoured the martyrs, survivors and resistance fighters, the Hagvurah and then introduced the artist/speaker Dr. Myriam Nafte.

Dr. Myriam Nafte is a woman for all seasons, involved in medicine, anthropology, mathematics, mysticism, forensics, science and Judaica (and, oh yes, art). She began as a textile artist doing aleph bet paintings on silk: a tapestry of Jewish thought, words of wisdom, words of praise. She uses text as powerful imagery. After many years of examining anatomical and other scientific texts for their drawings, Myriam spent a period of time learning Hebrew calligraphy from her sofer/artist father. This brought her back to those same scientific texts with the discovery that Hebrew was a significant scientific language, not just a language of ritual and religion. In the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the early Enlightenment, Jews were involved in science, math, and cosmography. They invented navigational instruments, and other tools and techniques – so many rich contributions hidden and lost. Myriam’s work recovers and re-situates Hebrew text for us as a language of art.

After the inspiring lecture we toured the hall to view incredible paintings by both Myriam and her father.