Friday, August 31, 2012

Meet Gary Rosenthal and Win a Honey Dish!

I'd like to introduce you to one of my newest sponsors, The Gary Rosenthal Collection!
I spoke with Gary a few weeks ago--having gone to art school myself and graduating with a B.F.A., I am fascinated with artists that make Judaica  since it's something I've always wanted to do.  

DM: Gary, what training do you have as an artist?
GR:  I am self taught.  I dropped out of college, (Cornell university in 1973) and went to work for my dad as a stove repairman where I learned to use an oxy-acetylene torch repairing broken cast iron stove grates.  I loved melting metal together and in my spare time I started to create art.  I went to museums and also looked at other artists work to develop my craft and own personal style.

Since I grew up in a small business it was only natural for me to sell the things I made. By the time I went back to college I was already selling my handcrafted art work through local art shows.  I enjoyed making the art and selling it as well and eventually went back to get an M.B.A. from Darden School, University of Virginia.  I developed a nice art business that at one time employed over 50 people making Judaica.  

DM: How did you become interested in doing Judaica art?
GR: I was traveling around the east coast selling my work at local shows.  I was mainly creating small figurines, dancers in bronze for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts or lacrosse figurines for the Sport's Hall of Fame and other decorative tabletop pieces.  At a show in Baltimore, MD. at the J.C.C., a client asked me if I could make a menorah for them.  I made several menorah for the next show and they sold immediately.  After that experience I added mezzuzah, shabbat candlesticks, dreidels and more and they all sold as fast as I could make them.  

DM: Where do you get your inspiration? I would think it would be hard coming up with new designs all the time!
I am inspired by the stories of the bible and also by the function of the item I am creating.  My goal when I started was to make Judaica that was pretty enough to leave out year round.  It's hard to believe today but in 1978 there was little Judaica and almost nothing that had a contemporary look to it.  I want to make Jewish functional art and art that had a Jewish function in the same piece--that is still one of my primary goals today.  I like to innovate in design and a good example of that are my vertical seder plate collection--this piece takes less room on the table and makes it easier visually to tell the story of the passover through food.  We try to create products that fill a need as special gifts and design accordingly and a good example of this is our wedding glass shards collection where the broken glass can be enclosed as a memento in a mezuzah that has "I am my beloved and my beloved is mine" silk screened on the case along with the shin.  
My design is driven by the function and the needs of my audience and my imagination.

DM: Tell us a little bit about your hiddurmitzvah project.
I think of my self as a social activist and organizer who happens to be an artist and so I have  tried to use art to get others involved in good work.  I believe my sculpture is more than the function and the aesthetics.  It also contains the spirit of those who create the piece.  We have several autistic associates on staff who help make parts,  a substantial portion of our profits over the year go into foundations to support arts education for children.  My work embodies a certain ruach, Jewish spirit but also my social perspective.  It really matters to me how the sculpture is made because I think sacred work should have a spiritual creation. 

Our hiddur mitzvah project,, is built on the foundation of our art and my desire to get others involved in art and tzedakah.  I have put together a program where we help others create Judaica.  I have a kit that allows others to make glass mosaics that we fire back at the studio and incorporate into a shabbat candlestick, menorah, or other piece of functional art.  We have literally worked with tens of thousands of people all over the world on this project with proceeds from making shabbat candlesticks in Minnesota going to feed Jews in Argentina.  After hurricane Katrina we helped hundreds of families all over the U.S. create 500+ menorah that were given to Jewish families in New Orleans who had lost everything in the floods.  We have a special program,, where we support those touched by breast cancer.

Don't you love his story about working for his dad torching cast iron stove grates and now making beautiful Judaica?  Now for the best part...Gary is giving away this beautiful honey dish just in time for Rosh Hashanah to one lucky reader!

Simply write a comment at the end of this post with your name and e-mail. You have until Friday, September 7. We'll announce the winner on Monday, September 10. Good luck!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Where did Summer Go?

Two more days of August!  The temperature went down to 50 degrees a few evenings last week and the air is much less humid. The tips of leaves on some trees have started to change--summer is winding down and it flew by for me.

Here's a look at the highlights of my summer including some my favorites posts.
1. The birth of Zelda and her adorable birth announcement.
2. Ben's graduation from the University of Vermont.

3. These Nosegays I put together with flowers in my garden.
4. Picking up the farm share with the grandchildren.

5. This spool table I made from only three simple materials.
6. My tile table guest post on Pretty Handy Girl.

7. Hand stenciled gold dots on white china.
8. This button bowl .

Rosh Hashanah is only two weeks away (!) so stop back and visit for lots of new ideas for making your holiday even more beautiful and festive!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Making a Spool Table

Lately I've been seeing spool tables in catalogs like Ballard Design and Crate and Barrel. I love how they look so nautical and organic and are also so functional.  I've been wanting to try my hand at making one for a while and last week finally went out and gathered all the materials.

Here is how it turned out--it really does look like a spool of thread, right?

Here are the parts I bought to make the table.
The guys at my local lumberyard helped me by cutting the plywood circles and the Sonotube to size since I do not do power tools!

The first step was to glue the rope onto the Sonotube with a hot glue gun.

My measurements were off and I had to buy more rope (opps!)  
Here's how to determine the length of rope you'll need: 
1. Measure the width of the rope (in inches) and divide that into the length of the tube.
2. Measure the circumference of the tube. 
3. Multiply both numbers together and divide by twelve. 

I bought my rope at Lowe's.

Next I stained the plywood top and bottom with a dark walnut stain...
followed by a coat of clear water-based varnish in a satin finish.

The bottom circle is glued on, but the top is attached with Velcro--you can open and close it...
making the inside a great spot for storing things like pillows, blankets or even toys!

Linking up to:
Homemaker on a Dime 
Not JUST A Housewife 
Sugar Bee Crafts 
Someday Crafts 
House of Hepworths 
The Shabby Nest 
Miss Mustard Seed 
creative jewish mom 
The Well Crafted Home

Friday, August 24, 2012

Crib Mobile

Baby Zelda is six weeks old! She still sleeps in a co-sleeper next to her mommy's bed but soon she'll move into a real crib. I'm thinking of ideas for a mobile to hang above her crib--mobiles have come a long way since my children were babies twenty-something years ago  when most choices were plastic animals and such.

So many beautiful choices--they are almost works of art for the nursery! Here are a few ideas I am considering.

Maybe something with sky, bird or tree themes?
Clockwise from top left: silk leaves from MoonLilyMobiles on etsy; Felt birds from LoveFeltXoXo on etsy; Birds on a branch from Spool Sewing Company; cute kites in the clouds from goshandgolly on etsy.

Or, maybe cute fluffy sheep or colorful fish?
Clockwise from top left: adorable sheep from; or black and white sheep from;  Colorful fish from modernfamily magazine; or paper fish from AllySen on etsy.

Or, maybe just graphic shapes in beautiful colors.
Left, like this star mobile from littledreamer on etsy; or graphic circles from SweetDivine on etsy.

So many choices! Hard to know which direction to go let alone what a baby would prefer...which one do you like best?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bulletin Board Face Lift

Our niece Mia is moving to Boston to attend Tufts University Dental school. Since she lives in the midwest and is flying to Boston, I volunteered to drive up for the day and bring some larger items she can't fit in a suit case.
One item she needed was a bulletin board. Since I planned on customizing a standard board I asked her for some inspiration.  She sent me a photo of this duvet cover she ordered for her bed...
Aside from the fact that she's really smart and adorable she also has impeccable taste--just look at this Jonathan Adler Duvet cover she ordered!  G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S.  

I came across this board at a tag sale for $3.00...

It looked very office-ish to me so I took it apart and started by painting the frame gold.

Although the board was already grey, the fabric looked like it came off the walls of an office cubical. I covered it with grey felt instead...

and added yellow ribbon to introduce the second color and add a feminine touch.
Gold thumbtacks were used where the ribbons intersect.

Simple and clean with a feminine touch--just like her duvet cover.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Masking Tape Step Stool

When our grandchildren (ages four and two) come to visit they need to use a step-stool to reach the bathroom sink. The stool they use is the very stool our own children used when they were toddlers!

Although it's seen better days, this stool is solid wood and very sturdy. I painted it (over 20 years ago!) white and rubber stamped images of bees and butterflies.  We certainly got a lot of use from it over the years but now it looked worn and sad and really needed an update!

First a quick sanding, then white spray paint  to start with a clean palette. After the colored masking tape arrived from Identi-Tape  it was just a matter of measuring and taping to get a stripped pattern. 

A few coats of spray polyurethane keeps the tape from coming loose and make it easy to wipe clean.

The children like it a little too much...Yosef (age two) loves to stand at the sink for long periods of time playing with water which ends up all over the floor!

Linked to:

Friday, August 17, 2012

Mosaic Top Table

I'm so excited and flattered to be a guest blogger today for my friend Brittany at Pretty Handy Girl!  Head over there to read about this mosaic table I made over and other favorites she featured from my blog.

This is a makeover story about a little end table I found on clearance at Target. It was cheap ($20!), inconspicuous, and functional; but eventually ended up feeling boring.

This is the result post-makeover. It doesn't get much better than gold and pretty mosaic tiles.

To see how I transformed the table, head over to Pretty Handy Girl for the whole story!

Linked to:
The Shabby Nest 
Miss Mustard Seed 
addicted to decorating 
French Country Cottage 
One More Time

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New Mom Gift Basket

Baby clothes and accessories are such fun to buy and give as gifts for newborns. Baby Zelda has certainly seen her share of pretty clothes and blankets this past month.

But how about the mommy? (If you had three kids under the age of four, wouldn't you appreciate something to make you feel more relaxed)?  I put together this basket to give to Ariel...I don't know if it will help her feel less frazzled but it can't hurt!

For the basket I used a 4-compartment drawer organizer that can be used inside a drawer. (There's only so many wicker baskets one can reuse-- this is much more practical).  

 Here's what I filled it with...

I wrapped the whole thing in clear cellophane, tied it with a ribbon, made the card on the computer and framed it with Washi tape.
I'm bringing it up to Massachusetts this week... along with some babysitting!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Painting on Ceramic Dishes

I love white dinnerware--it's a classic and can be used in so many different ways. But sometimes I want something a bit more interesting and personal. Using Americana 3D Opaque Gloss Enamels, specifically made for glass and ceramics, I stenciled a dot pattern onto white plates and cups.

I started out with one place setting since I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I found the gold gloss enamel paint and stencils at Michael's.

After cleaning the surfaces with rubbing alcohol, I measured where I wanted the dots. Next, it was just a matter of stenciling each dot one at a time.

The directions say after applying the paint let it dry for four days, then bake for 30 minutes in a 325 degree oven.
Ignore the spills in the bottom of the oven!

I love the results and plan on doing service for eight!

Linked to:
i should be mopping the floor
creative jewish mom
not just a housewife  
sugar bee crafts 
Someday Crafts 
Domestically Speaking 
Primitive & Proper 
House of Hepworths

Friday, August 10, 2012

Who's Thinking About Rosh Hashanah?

I am.

This has been the hottest summer the Northeast has ever experienced! Since I'm not a fan of summer to begin with, I am looking forward to fall. And, if you haven't checked your calendar lately, Rosh Hashanah is only five weeks away!

So here is a little inspiration I pinned that might help if you're entertaining this holiday.

These honey cakes are gluten-free (perfect for people like me) and how cute would these beehive cupcakes "bee" for dessert?

This pomegranate and beet salad is so pretty and perfect for the season, and so is the apple challah.

No need for flowers when apples are bountiful this month! The left pic. requires a visit to the apple orchard but the right is so simple--just pile local apples onto a cake stand or bowl.

Honey sticks as favors for your guests!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Birth Announcements

Zelda's birth announcements are signed, sealed and delivered in the mail. If you didn't receive one, consider this one yours!

It all started with this onesie we ordered from Purple Possom on Etsy...

The photo was made into postcards at Staples--we just added a stamp with the address and they were ready for the mailbox.

Here are some of the outtakes from the "photo shoot".
As you can see by the last photo, Zelda told us the photo session was over--she said she needed a lunch break and a nap!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fall Fashions for Kids

If you haven't shopped for baby or toddler clothing recently let me fill you in--
they. are. so. cute!

One of the fun things about having grandchildren is dressing them in adorable clothing and I don't remember finding clothes this cute when my kids were toddlers! 

Summer will be over before we know it so here are some mood boards I did for all three kids for the fall...

Moussia (age 4)
Polka dot dress, Old Navy; leggings, J. Crew; sweater, Nordstorm; stripped shirt, Gap; Barn jacket, J. Crew; skirt, J. Crew; boots, Gap; Grey dress, Gap, Silver shoes, Nordstorm.

Yosef (age 2)
Navy hoodie, Nordstorm; orange jacket, Target; chino pants, Old Navy; striped shirt, Gap; deck sneakers, Gap; vest and shirt, Old navy; Navy pants, The Children's Place; brown shoes, The Children's Place.

Zelda (age 3 weeks)
Sweet pea shirt, pants and cap, Gap; Pink sweater, Nordstorm; blue smock and leggings, Nordstorm; Robeeze shoes,; pink eyelet sweater, Old navy; knit dress, Old Navy; pink tights, Gap; crib shoes, Nordstorm.

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