Sunday, December 1, 2019

Hanukah Gift Ideas: Paper and Fabric Judaica to Make, Sell, or Fling

Is it a bird? Well, birds are involved....

Is it a plane? No, more like a Frisbee - if you fling it, it flies, but not well enough for a game of  Frisbee golf. Wait, I remember! It's one of the yarmulkes (little Jewish hats) I brought to last week's artisan fair at my nearest synagogue, Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center!

I rarely do fairs - it's nearly impossible for a fiber artist to charge enough for the hours we put in. Nobody wants to pay $60 for a potholder. But someone I adore asked me -  and here she is, Ellen Dinerman, my son's kindergarten teacher (two decades ago), and an accomplished artist who makes extraordinary sculptural jewelry (sold here. No financial affiliation!)

I hoped the event would be a good opportunity to downsize my stash of Judaica seeking forever homes. My table:

Closeup of the top matzoh cover:

Underneath were more matzoh covers. Some, like this one, can do double duty....

If you don't want to use it as a matzoh cover, you can stuff an 11" pillow form into the back...

(The fun fabric above, featuring Maneschewitz wine and other Passover props is sold at They also sell the trompe l'oeil matzoh fabric.) My pile also included challah (bread) covers and mats, like this one, stitched from kaleidoscopically pieced fabric....

....and miscellaneous fiber art, like this wall hanging (now in my Etsy shop.) The Hebrew letters spell "Chai" for "Life!"
 Yarmulke section:

I make them from whatever fabric is feeling spiritual to me - starting at 12 o'clock and moving clockwise in the photo above, there's Mighty Mouse and Hebrew alphabet hats; a Harry Potter Bukharan style kippah; Pikachu; a hat pieced made from necktie fabrics; chile pepper fabric,  and way in the back, chess fabric. Closer:
The perfect kippah for a bishop! For shoppers who look at my hats and say, "Ha! I could make those myself," I heartily agree, and point to strategically-placed copies of my yarmulke-making book (which I sell online in paperback and digital form.)
Ellen gave me a second table for a craft activity with the Sunday school kids.

The supplies are for making paper hats that can also do double-duty - turned over they make festive candy dishes, and if you fling them with a twist, they can fly much better than the fabric version - comparable to a decent paper airplane. Patterns for these hats are in my OTHER yarmulke-making book, "Yarmulke-gami: E-Z Paper Fold Jewish Art Hats."  
I brought a stack of hat patterns for kids to cut out and decorate, printed onto cardstock. 
I made the patterns in my graphics program.  The round hat folding pattern has the Temple's sisterhood logo in the middle. Underneath the hat pattern is a pyramid-folding pattern.
I made about 60 copies of this page. I also showed off a row of samples.
Closer: One of them is a sponge-painted hat, folded into what I call a "Simple Star."
Here's another sponge-painted hat, this one folded in my "Dimple Star" design. Can you see the difference? This star is rotated so it's points don't line up with the darts. 
This basic hat is made from an acrylic painting on a piece of cardstock. 
The next is napkin decoupage. 
Here's my 'Diamond Star' folding pattern, made from textured scrapbooking cardstock.
Below left is a hat made from a map, and on the right, one from a scientific paper. The latter is colored and folded into my "Chickens Over Mt. Sinai" design. (also looks like a hamantaschen.) I twirled a decorative rose from the same paper.
This page was from a wildlife charity catalog.
I channeled my inner third grader to make a sample for the day's project. (The sequins were a test of whether a temporary glue stick holds them well. It doesn't.) 
Along with glue sticks, I provided the kids with lots of multicolored paper, stickers, markers, crayons, and Chanukah paper with dreidels and stars. (No sequins.)
The most popular supply turned out to be these: 
And here's a terrific hat made by a 6th grader who used them well! 
Plus several kids made pyramid gift boxes from my folding pattern.  Here's one I made as a sample:  
Good for holding gelt. Or, they serve as handle-free dreidels - put a Hebrew letter on each side, then toss it in the air. Of course, this being a tetrahedron - aka a "triangular pyramid" - when it lands, you have to wonder - which letter wins?  Three of the four sides are up! Maybe the one facing down at the table? This particular pyramid was folded from a foil coffee bag, with stamped Hebrew letters glued to each side. (I LOVE polyhedra!)
And here's a pyramid made and decorated at the fair by an authentic 6th grader.
Of course, with the pyramid theme, they may fit in better for Passover. My original idea involved covering the outside with brick fabric, and putting a frog inside:
But back to the present(s). I gave each kid three chocolate kisses to insert before sealing the last fold.  I didn't think of bringing candy until the morning of the event - and then, the only kisses I could find at the drugstore were packaged for Christmas, in red and green as well as silver foil. So we all had a good laugh about that. I wished I'd thought this through earlier, in time to buy chocolate coins to put inside. 
Thank you, Ellen, for inviting me to this fun event! I downsized my Judaica stash a bit, and had a blast shmoozing with other artists, shoppers, and creative kids!

P.S. I just saw the following fabulous wrapping paper at my local independent bookstore - Vromans in Pasadena. Wouldn't this make great paper kippot? 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

English Paper Pieced Table Topper

Here's a colorful table topper, made with a wild range of fabrics - some have been in my stash for 20+ years, and some are hot new Kaffe, Westminster and Tula Pink prints. It's 23" across the center.

It's English Paper Pieced (EPP), with the help of acrylic templates from Sewing By Sarah. One example from the 12 piece set:
(Full disclosure - I was paid a lump sum for the design and directions for this tabletopper. Sewing by Sarah also distributes my free guide to EPP, which you can download here. I do NOT receive a percentage of sales for any of these items.)

My table topper has the traditional "Seven Sisters" arrangement, with six hexagon blocks circling a seventh. I hand-stitched a couple of them with regular thread; I stitched the rest by machine using monofilament invisible thread on top. EPP by machine is much MUCH faster than doing it by hand.

1. First, a traditional star (made with Kaffe Fasset prints):
2. Next, the identical block layout, but with values manipulated so you see three cubes instead of a star. And speaking of seeing, the eyeballs are a way-cool Tula Pink print. The black + color fabric is an oldie from my stash. 
3. The block below also creates an illusion of floating cubes, two of them.

4. This block looks more complicated than it is, because I used busy large-scale prints, cut from 5" charm squares, for the three interior hexagons: 

4. More trendy prints: 

5. In this block, the busy colorful print is from the 1970s, but the outer white diamonds are brand new. The green fabric is in-between, age-wise; I think I bought it in the 90s. 

7. For the last block, I manipulated values - light on top, dark below, medium to the side - to create the illusion of a single cube. 
Along with those six hexagon blocks, I made some random blocks, for an undetermined future project.  A pentagon-shaped block: 
I call this "Star Hive;" a modified six-pointed star with little floral viruses nesting in the nooks, and three tiny eyeball points. 

Acrylic rotary cutting templates are very helpful if you want to fussy-cut pieces, like the flowers in the block above. You can mark the top of the template with a waxy crayon or china marker, tracing prominent designs in the fabric, so you can easily locate and cut more identical pieces. 
Everything outside the seam allowance won't show in the finished block.
The basting papers can't be made from the rotary cutting templates. The booklet I wrote to go with them includes full size diagrams to download and print, like this one.

Cut the diagram apart and there are your basting papers. You can stitch-baste the fabric over the paper templates by hand, on planes, trains, and dentist offices, for example. But when I'm home, I glue-baste at the ironing board, saving an immense amount of time. Place the template-cut fabric on the back of a paper template, and use little dabs of temporary school glue to fold, press and hold the edges inward.
In this photo, I laid out the paper templates for the surrounding pieces (I had to use blue cardstock  because I lost one printed template.)
Here's a triangular plastic template that I used to audition locations, just before cutting. (I used blue painter's tape to make my own notes about size.)

The finished block: 
It has 10 sides.. I don't know how to fit 10-sided blocks together, but this can be appliquéd to a background! Here's another 10-sided block, which features matzoh fabric. (There's always room for matzoh!)
Stitched to a background (and pressed well!) Yes, you saw this wedding gift before
If you're interested in learning more about the Sewing by Sarah acrylic template set, it's here. My free downloadable EPP guide is here.