On June 21, 2017 we celebrated the work of our hands with the 2017 edition of Show, Share, and Quell. Have a creative summer, everyone.
Anna VanDelman writes
(with apologies to Ella Fitzgerald)
Once again Pomegranate members indulged in an exciting creative project. It happened on a beautiful evening at Temple Sinai on Wednesday, April 27, 2016. As we entered the hall we were treated to a display of members’ own creations of vessels, each one exquisite in own design and execution, made of felt, fabric, reed, and many other materials.
The evening began with a D’var Torah delivered by immediate past president Karen Chisvin. To set the scene for the program ahead, she spoke about the commandment to wash our hands – our instruments of work in the world. And she quoted from the words of Torah by Rabbi Frand about the vessels of the poor brought to the Temple for Shavuot. They were handmade wicker baskets, kept by the Kohanim to bring merit to the poor, while the gold and silver trays of the rich were returned to them as they were not vested with the labour of the pilgrims.
Melanie Siegel then introduced her friend and colleague, Michelle Zikovitz our guest lecturer for the evening. Michelle is currently Art Supervisor for the Town of Richmond Hill. She started out as a tapestry weaver and then fell in love with basket weaving. Her baskets are visually appealing as well as functional and practical.
Michelle then taught us to create a basic basket by weaving wet reeds around a styrofoam cup. We used her hand-dyed reeds (her personal favourite material) that helped us, like her other students of all ages, to develop an appreciation of the ancient artistry of basket weaving. And then, Guild members took off in all directions, using more reeds, our fabric stash, personal ornaments and other materials to continue and complete our work.
Michelle also directed us to Pinterest and other internet sources to explore more basketry ideas. For more about Michelle, see her website, and search for name in the images tab of your browser.
Thank you Michelle for a fascinating evening!
The Pomegranate Guild Outreach program “Seeds” travelled to Netivot HaTorah on March 30 to work with bat mitzvah age girls on a Life Skills stitching project. We enjoyed an intergenerational afternoon of sharing and stitching. This was just the start of the project and we are looking forward to the final work.
Anna VanDelman writes:
On Wednesday December 6th, three dozen Pomegranate Guild members and guests made their way through Beth Tzedec’s current renovations to the beautiful chapel for an evening of Judaic treasures – artifacts recycled and repurposed, in keeping with this year’s theme. Rkki Blitt introduced our speaker, Dorion Liebgott, who is both a long time Guild member and long time (25 years) curator of the Museum.
We sat in awe of the precious artifacts Dorion brought for our delight. Of particular interest to us as textile artists were items that involved the reuse of fabrics. These included a wimple (Torah binder) of German origin. The wimple was recycled from a infant’s swaddling cloth. It was cut into strips that were sewn together and embroidered with a formula including the child’s name, birth-date, and blessings. This binder would have been wrapped around the Torah used on the child’s 3rd birthday, his Bar Mitzvah and his wedding. We also examined was a Torah crown made of damask silk (rather than the usual silver) and a parochet (ark curtain) made of recycled fashion fabrics.
Dorion showed us Chanukah menorahs – one reconstructed from a rifle, and another made of empty bullet cartridges mounted on Plexiglas from the American Military – that demonstrate how Judaic ritual items can be made with objects and materials found immediately at hand.
Sometimes conventional items have inscriptions added to make them suitable for Judaic purposes. We were shown a large pewter bowl with blessings inscribed with reference to the redemption of the first born son for the ceremony of Pidyon Ha Ben, and a seder plate that was also created by inscribing a standard pewter plate. In some cases items are adapted merely by use: a locked sugar box and open candy silver candy dish are two objects that have become etrog containers by declaring them so.
Several Yads (Torah pointers) demonstrated a collage approach, constructed by adding multiple small pieces of other objects to create a pointer. Their awkwardness in both appearance and function are clues to the “fakery” behind their construction.
Many of the precious objects Dorion showed us were from the Cecil Roth Collection in the Museum, and Dorion also shared the story of how the Reuben and Helene Dennis Museum acquired them. All the photographs in this post are published with the permission of the museum.
Rikki thanked Dorion, as we all did, for a fascinating evening teaching us that we can continually recycle and re-invent old artifacts into new treasures.
All the photographs in this post are published with the permission of the museum
Janis Katz writes
“GET HOOKED” – it’s not what you think!
Continuing this year’s theme of “Do Not Waste”, Guild members and guests spent the evening learning about, and practicing, the art of “hooking” (or sometimes “prodding”). This event was co-presented and hosted by Congregation Darchei Noam.
Our Guild secretary, Barbara Goldstein [see more about Barbara below], gave us a primer on (rug) hooking: she showed us stunning samples of her own work (bags, chair pads, cholent trivets) and then demonstrated how it’s done. The supplies are few: latch hook canvas, a crochet hook (or chopstick), and a darning needle. Then there’s the fabric: everyone grabbed their favourite from the Guild stash – chiffon, velvet, cotton, wool, etc. – and started tearing or cutting thin strips about 1 cm wide.
With this technique, you start on the edge first. Fold back one row of the canvas and whipstitch or overcast using a darning needle threaded with a fabric strip. Then you use your crochet hook or chopstick to fill in the grid. “Hooking” uses a crochet hook to pull up fabric loops in each grid square. “Prodding” is done with a chopstick, to push loops down in the grid. The loopy side is the right side.
Everyone had a great time tearing strips of fabric, hooking and prodding, and chatting.
A tip from Barbara: you could “get hooked” on this technique and be tempted to go out and buy fabric, but remember – do not waste, use your stash!
The Guild was delighted to be able to partner with Congregation Darchei Noam for this event, and we’ll be partnering again in March and May of 2016.
A note about Barbara: Barbara is a graduate of Sheridan College and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Textile Studios, as well as an active member of The Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Textiles, Toronto. She has exhibited in many art shows, most recently “The Edge of the Forest”, now traveling across Canada. All completed work shown in this post are Barbara’s.
Temma Gentles reminds us that it’s time for a celebration! Torah Stitch by Stitch achieves its 2nd anniversary with “awesome engagement, new scans & illuminations.” For more details see Engagement and Amazement. And help continue the project.
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!
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.
Anna Vandelman reports on our January and February meetings:
JANUARY: If you were lucky enough to come out to our meeting on Wednesday January 21st, you would feel well prepared to devote your artistry to Passover.
Laya Crust, our talented, amazingly creative Artist-in-Residence took us through a review of the experience of the Exodus, showing us along the way how the themes and rituals of the story inspire creative responses. Slavery and freedom, burning bushes, plagues, sacrifices and matzah can all be interpreted – in art in general and textile art in particular. Haggadot through the ages have added and altered the text and illustrations to speak to contemporary communities.
Since the Seder is a family and community meal, table linens, cushions, matzah and afikoman covers can all be part of an artful celebration. Guild members shared some of their special preparations and programs. Susan Rosenstein includes a map of the exodus in the middle of the table, Anna Vandelman’s guests have played Passover Jeopardy, and Marilyn Levy has made special plague memory aids to help everyone participate.
Laya’s resource notes are available to members on the Members’ page of this website.
FEBRUARY: Bad weather (at least on Pomegranate Guild Wednesdays) has been a theme for us this season! Once again on a dark and dismal Wednesday evening February 18th, Guild Artist-in-Residence Laya Crust helped warm and brighten the night for us. Using her very special megillah as a specific example, Laya led us through a discussion of key aspects to fulfilling a commission.
In the first part of the evening, we talked about the need to merge creative ideas with business sense to successfully complete a commission. We discussed the usefulness of logbooks and spreadsheets to record time and materials. We also talked about the intangible costs and benefits related to working for close friends and relatives, demanding clients, working in new (for us) media. And we found that successful work often comes of establishing a good relationship with a client.
In the second part of the program, Laya took us through the specific process of creating a commissioned illuminated Megilat Esther. She sourced materials and techniques, sketched and practiced, and then scribed and illuminated a ten and a half foot scroll. It contains 32 lavish illustrations rendered in 16th C. Persian style. The original piece is written on parchment using historically authentic tools and painted in gouache. The Megillah has been reproduced in a limited edition series.
What an illuminating evening!
On Tuesday January 20 Pomegranate Guild member Barb Goldstein led the members of Hadassah – Hatikvah chapter of Thornhill in a bracelet felting session. Colourful fleece, some soapy water, and Barb’s engaging instruction left participants with beautiful bracelets to take home. Melanie Siegel and Karen Chisvin attended to help with set up and chat about the other activities of the Pomegranate Guild, welcoming all participants of the evening to become guests or new members of the Guild.
What’s Jewish about felted bracelets? Their bagel shape, and an artful outcome of being under intense pressure!