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Torah Cover

A torah cover I designed and made was selected for permanent display in the Jewish Museum of Florida. The top portion is butternut wood carved to bring to mind the ark of the covenant. The two carved cherubim face one another with their wings outspread, surrounded by a border of carved pomegranate blossoms. The bottom portion is linen, brocade and dupioni silk (with some metal, simulated jewel, bead and cedar embellishments) made to resemble the High Priest's garments described in the Old Testament. A torah pointer (Yad - in Hebrew) borrows elements from both themes. This cover took second prize in the museum's competition.

Happy Purim

A Museum in which my work is displayed invited me to create and donate a 3d, Purim-themed sculpture to be used as a table centerpiece at their annual Purim fundraiser. At the end of the evening, the centerpiece will be auctioned off as part of the fundraiser, to benefit the museum. The museum gave me 5 weeks to create the object. Oh yeah, and the fundraiser is $300 a plate, so I will not be attending to see how my work is received.

Given these constraints and the time limit, I now present to you - a sculptural, Purim-themed table centerpiece incorporating five purim puppets!!

Mordechai and Esther are in Blue. Vashti, the faded Queen, is in faded gold. Ahasuerus is in Purple. Hamann, of course, is in Black.

For those of you who don't know the Purim story, it fits the general theme of "They tried to kill us - We survived - Let's eat". Purim is different, however, in that we celebrate it by dressing in costumes and really tying one on.

Happy Purim, everyone!!!

Nov. 5th, 2009

Martha Stewart hosted Richard Garriott showing off his Automata collection.

A must see at:


Nov. 5th, 2009

Luca the cat sits calmly, unaware that the dreaded Elmo chair is preparing to consume another victim.


Simchat Torah

So ... My latest creation is in honor of Simchat Torah (The celebration marking the conclusion of the annual cycle of Torah readings, and the beginning of a new cycle).

Turn the handle and the Rabbi spins with the Torah, much like our own Rabbi.

En"lite"ned Kosher Cooking

Yesterday, I spent what I consider to be an exorbitant amount for a cookbook. I tend to buy my cookbooks used. But, once I saw this cookbook and started to examine the recipes (and the pretty color photographs), I knew I had to buy it right there and then (Darn you, Barnes and Noble).

The cookbook is called "Enlitened Kosher Cooking" by Nechama Cohen and is directed towards "good carb, good fat, no sugar" Kosher recipes. Nechama Cohen is diabetic, and so her recipes are directed to cooking for diabetics. The recipes, and the book itself, look fabulous. This is the kind of book that makes me want to pull a "Julie and Julia" and work through it in a year. I only hesitate to try because of two recipes: Jellied Calf Feet; and Roast Calf Tongue. I may, however, try to do the rest of the recipes in the book. For all of you on my flist who are diabetic (and even those who aren't), I recommend taking a look at this book!

Head Start

Well, I finished the project I had been working on (the model of which my son did not like) and entered it in response to a "call for entries" for a gallery show. The show was called "A Show of Heads". My mother and my partner thought it was perfect for me, since I like to carve heads (as longtime readers of this blog know). I just learned that my piece was not accepted into the show. Oh well. Next time. But for you loyal few, below is a picture of my piece.

I called the piece "Gossip" aka "Lashon Hora". In this piece, you start the gossip by turning the handle and telling the first head (who looks strangely like one of my grandmothers). Another turn of the handle causes the first head to turn and "tell" the second head (whose hair was painted the same color as my son's. Really.). Another turn and the second guy tells the middle guy, and so forth. The last guy looks sad because, it turns out, the gossip is about him. I will be posting a video soon.

P.S. Thanks to my lovely partner R., hand model extraordinaire.

I don't like this . . .

So, on July 30, 2009, my 23 month old son uttered his first complete sentence. Previously, his "sentences" consisted of "my this!", "more this" or "no!" (he also says "Agua" and "mas" or "no mas". So much for sending him to Synagogue day care.)

But not on this day. I was sitting with him on the couch and playing with a puppet/automaton I had just created as a model for a larger artwork, and I handed him the puppet. My son studied it and furrowed his brow. Handing it back to me, he said very clearly, "I don't like this". My shock at such a complete sentence, of course, outweighed my amusement/hurt that he didn't like my puppet. I said "You don't like this?". He shook his head no. I put the puppet away and we watched "Max and Ruby" together. When my partner came home, I told her what had happened. She, of course, didn't believe me. "He said that?" Yes, I said. "With the contraction and everything?" Yes, I said. "He didn't refer to himself as me or by his name? He said I?" Yes, I said. "I don't believe you", she said. My son, like Francis the talking mule or Michigan J. Frog, wasn't giving it up for her, either.

This weekend, we were driving to meet my mother and grandmother for dinner. My partner was sitting in the backseat with our son. She and I were talking when our son held up a lego block to her and said, clear as day, "I like this". My partner did not even realize, but merely repeated it back to him. Pointing at the block, she said "You like this?" and continued talking to me. I stopped the car and looked at them. "What did he just say?" I demanded. My partner paused, "I don't know", she said, "but I think he said 'I like this', because otherwise I don't know why I would have repeated it back to him". So, maybe now she believes me. My son, for his part, presented us both with a wry smile at being found out. We now imagine him spending his time at daycare having deep philosophical discussions with the other children in complete sentences, like the crowd in the purgatorio of Dante's Inferno.

And in case anybody is wondering, he has grown to really like the puppet.

And The Winner Is . . . .

One of my mezuzah cases has won a prize!

It tied for third prize and will enter the permanent collection of the Jewish Museum of Florida. Thank you to Avis Lee and Abraham Neiman for offering such a prize and to the Jewish Museum of Florida for awarding it.

And, in case you are wondering which one is mine, it's on the far right. Here is a full length picture of it.

We were allowed to provide a 150 word essay describing the piece. I could easily have written a 1500 word essay about what I was thinking when I created the piece. But, here's what I had to say in 150 words:

--“And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thy hand, and they shall be for frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the doorposts of thy house, and upon thy gates.” Deuteronomy 6:8 – 9

Upon receiving the Torah, the Jewish people were commanded to set its words upon their hearts, and more visibly, on their hands, between their eyes, and on their doorposts. This mezuzah case represents these visible reminders of what we have invisibly set in our hearts. As a vessel, it protectively cradles the Sh’ma, “writing” it on our doorposts. The binding of the carved basswood hand provides the commanded “sign”. Its female form symbolizes the growing number of women choosing to perform the mitzvah of tefillin. A four pronged “Shin”, representing Judaism’s four matriarchs, adorns the mezuzah case, while identifying the head tefillin awaiting its placement between the eyes.--

I didn't have room to explain in the essay that, symbolically, the Shin on the front of the mezuzah case is actually an alignment of four Shins (two actual and two imagined). The first shin is the one shown, the second shin is one that cannot be seen, but would be found on the back of the Rosh Tefillin that is being held in the carved palm, the third Shin is on the outside of the Mezuzah Klaf (Scroll) contained in a cavity within the Mezuzah case, and the fourth Shin would be formed by the Tefillin straps on the back of the hand, if the carving had extended back that far.

Many thanks to R. Goldenholz for letting me take pictures of him in his Tefillin for use in creating this piece. Thanks, too, to my partner R. for not letting me throw this mezuzah case out when I was dissatisfied with how it had come out, and for the use of her nail polish on the final piece.

A Fool and His Head . . .

A big thankyou to rospberry for sending the photos of her dad posing with his very own custom-made Jester's Bauble. For those of you who don't know, rospberry made a generous contribution to the LJ initiative "Live Long and Marry", organized to fight Proposition 8 in California, stripping legally married same sex couples from their status in that state. In exchange, I crafted the bauble/marotte from a photo of her dad (rospberry and I are located at different sides of an extremely large body of water, although I would have loved to visit and make a study of her dad in person!). In addition to her generous donation, Rospberry also sent a very generous care package, showing, I hope, that she was pleased with the likeness. Now that we have the photos, you are free to form your own opinions on the resulting likeness.

Thanks again, Ros!! And double thanks to Rospberry's dad, for letting me post the pic!!

PS. Feel free to give a shout-out to rospberry, who could use some cheering-up in the rest of her world, right about now.

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