On a rare and beautiful weather winter’s day in downtown Toronto, Arlene and I made our way to deliver our stitched canvas panels to Temma Gentiles, the visionary and tireless volunteer of the project, TorahStitchByStitch.org. We met this great fabric artist and had a lovely chat, telling her how we came to do the stitching and what it meant to us.
It was wonderful to meet the genius behind the project, who works tirelessly to make everything run like clockwork. There’s so many stages to the project that require thousands of emails every month. Everything from seeking out volunteer stitchers, preparing and sending out the kits, assigning helpers to give a hand during the stitching phase, binding all the finished panels, and preparing and printing a book that documents all the stitcher’s works. With many events in the planning stage to display the works, this project is coming around the corner to the finish line!
I received this email message from one of the volunteers and excitedly found out that, YES! my panel has been accepted: “Just a quick note to thank you for your completed canvas. We are glad that you enjoyed this stitching project and found it so meaningful.
Your canvas is quite lovely and the lettering is strong and vivid. The border and the pastiche at the bottom add to it’s beauty. Yasher koach!”
You can see recent events, scanned panels and slide shows by clicking on these links to the website:
http://torahstitchbystitch.org/events-activity/summer-2017-collection/ and http://torahstitchbystitch.org/events-activity/previous-slide-shows/
Contact TorahStitchByStitch.org to volunteer to stitch a panel.
As you can tell, I am beaming with pride to be a part of this great stitching of the Torah scriptures and look forward to seeing it all hanging on a wall in some auspicious place!
I chose to do the stitching because the connection to Judaism and wonderfully creative project appealed to me so greatly. It felt like important work and really enticed me to want to complete this.
My illumination has some deep significance for me because of my connection to China through educational consulting and Chinese food cookbook writing. I chose to depict a Chinese gold yuanbao (pronounced ‘you-an bao’) which is an ancient form of gold or silver currency used until the 19th century in China because I did the stitching while I was in China and my verses refer to the retribution that was paid in many forms, with a lot of silver and gold.
I am proud of this work – that my stitching can be part of a larger global community of people who did this project together. I feel blessed that I was able to be included and my heart was touched by the feelings that it evoked in me about my treasured religion.
My goal for the past several months has been learning about watercolours. To continue achieving my goal, I completed this colour mixing chart this month to get to know my colours. It wasn’t quick – that’s because I have 30 colours.
Over the summer I had a great art fix with a new bunch of Daniel Smith watercolour paint tubes. I actually didn’t know where to begin choosing colours so I called on my watercolour Facebook friends for advice. I already had 6 tubes of DS that I had used in a Craftsty online class I took about watercolours and really loved the way they painted. I was eager to graduate to the artist quality paints from the Winsor & Newton Cotman paint set I had received from Kelly Medford’s class in Rome last year. This set was great to start and very easy to learn to use and carry around with. But after a year of using them, it was time to move on. At the end of the discussion I had a long list of ‘must have’ colours, whittled down to 24 more.
I found out that the colours you choose for your palette really depends on the type of painting you do. I haven’t stuck to one kind of painting (flowers, landscapes, still life) and am trying them all, so I just chose the colours that appeal to me the most. Since my new palette has room for more paints and moving them around, in the long run this choice is likely to change.
Studying how to mix paints to make attractive colours, I have found out that the 3 other paint mixing charts I’ve made have been so very helpful to use in my painting. Besides being helpful, the orderly esthetic of a finished chart appeals to my senses–somewhat like a work of art in and of itself!
Writing about the making a colour chart is my way of documenting it for myself for the future, and helping others to make their own colour charts!
You Will Need
- Sharp pencil & eraser
- Permanent marker
- Your watercolours, pans and tubes
- Your choice of paper
- Water container
- Paint brushes, one large (perhaps size 8) and one fine (perhaps size 2)
- Large white ceramic plate
- Small white ceramic plates
- Squeeze bottle (optional) to activate your paints for the pans
- Paper towel or cloth to wipe down your dishes.
Measuring Is the First Step
- I like to use a quilting ruler (but of course any ruler will do) because it’s got Metric and Imperial measurements, is see-through and has lines on the ruler, all helping with accurate measuring.
- I also like the Metric measures because when you have to use a calculator to divide the size of the paper by the amount of colours to get the size of the boxes that you paint in, you get an answer that’s in metric too.
- Jenny, in her blog post describes in great detail how to measure and draw out you chart, which is also the way I draw it out. Don’t forget to take your border measurement on all 4 sides into account.
- I also add a column to the far left and the top row to write the names of the colours.
Draw Out Your Chart
- Use a sharp pencil to measure how far apart the lines will be by ticking off the lines at the left side of the page and the right side. Then repeat with the top and bottom sides of the pages.
- Draw the first line by matching up the two ticks at either end, and using the ruler’s edge as a gauge to keep the lines straight. A see-through ruler is helpful to keeping the lines straight because you can match up the lines on the ruler to the edge of the paper or another line that is straight already.
- Write the names of the colours in the left column and at the top.
Put Your Paint in Order
Having grappled with the order of the paint colours before, the best way is to arrange your paints according to the ROYGBIV order. http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/ROYGBIV . Unfortunately I have a few out of order but it’s okay!
Call Me Crazy
On a whim, I decided that to be neat in my painting (because I knew it would be hard to paint in such small a squares without mixing the colours), I would mask out the space between each square to keep it between white.
It was fast because I used it directly from the bottle but definitely not in perfect lines. Oh well, art isn’t perfect! Using a fine brush to draw the lines, I thought, would take much more time.
I learned after a few lines that it was best to always keep the bottle held at a 45° angle. The angle keeps the air from flooding into the tip of the bottle and making a big blob when you put the tip to the paper. And have a paper towel or cloth nearby to wipe up the tip.
As it turns out it wasn’t so crazy as I didn’t have to focus on make the boxes so neat.
Painting Your Chart – Saving Paint and Time With My Process
I diverge from Jenny’s instructions here to save paint and time once the chart is graphed out.
1) In a small dish start with the first colour (horizontal or vertical doesn’t matter) and mix a juicy pure colour mixture with your large brush. Save time by using the paint straight from your tube (if you are making your own pans).
2) Around the outside of the large dish, deposit a small drop of the colour for each of the other colours (if you have 24 colours, you need 23 drops around the outside. If you have 18 colours, you need 17 drops, if you have 12 colours, you need 11 drops. Get the idea? Then paint the colour in the box over top of the name of that colour on the left side and at the top.
NOTE: if you paint the colours down the side and across the top, you don’t have to paint the mix of the same colour which makes a white diagonal line through the chart.
Paint swatch of the name of the colour in the left column and across the top.
3) Dip your small brush into the second colour right in your paint palette and load it half the consistency of water to paint as the first colour.
4) Add a same size drop of the second colour to one of the first colour drops on the big dish, mix together and paint in the right box on the paper. This will make a 1:2 ratio of first to second colour for every mix down the side of your paper. The swatches going down in the bottom half of your chart will have a 1:2 ratio and the swatches going across the top half of your chart will have a 2:1 ratio.
NOTE: If you wish to CHANGE the ratio, change the amount of colour you put on your brush. For example if you want 1:1, use the same size drop of the second colour as the first colour. Then you only need to mix the bottom half of the chart under the diagonal.
5) Clean off the dishes and brushes. For my chart this was the most tedious part of the project. Get clean water.
6) Repeat #2, #3, #4 and #5, painting the swatch of name of the colour in the left column and at the top. Then continue until you have all the colours mixed and painted.
Once the whole thing’s dry, erase the pencil lines and remove the masking fluid. Note the difference mixes down the diagonal and across the diagonal.
Take away for me:
I have a whole lot of beautiful colours.
Some are pure; some don’t mix well because they themselves are not pure. I got a lot of mud mixes with them.
Some are great for landscapes; some are ‘bubble gum’ colours.
Some are surprising like Buff Titanium, which is a beautiful colour on its own or mixed with other pigments.
Neutral Tint is anything but neutral – it’s a very strong back shade if you use too much.
All the purples are lovely. As are all the Quinacrodones.
*****Now to get painting more often!*****
P.S.> Your comments are greatly appreciated.
To say I am overjoyed would be an understatement. Almost 2 months to the day from when I started (August 6, 2017), I have completed my stitching. On September 16, 2017 I finished the script. Today, October 4, 2017, I finished the border and my illumination too.
Because I’m in China while doing this, I stitched a “yuanbao”, which is boat-like shaped silver or gold ingot currency used in Imperial China. Since the illuminations are limited to 5 colour choices and grey or silver isn’t one of them, I decided to keep it simple and make it gold using the allowed gold thread. I found the shape I liked, used an app to graph out the shape and went to work again!
The result is something to be proud of, while being very enjoyable to do! Thanks to the www.torahstitchbystitch.org organization for sharing this opportunity with me.
I have really enjoyed doing this. It hasn’t been easy because I had to redo a lot of the stitches to get it right. Here are the photos of my progress in the past month:
TaDa!!!!!! Today I finished stitching the last characters. Thankfully now I don’t have to ‘kill myself’ for not completing it within the 6-month time-frame that’s allotted to each of us!
And now it’s onto the illumination for the text, an optional choice in the stitching — but since I have lot’s of empty space, I’ll do one, even though it’s going to be a challenge to find the right colour combination. Stay tuned to part 3!
My friend invited me to a synagogue to see some wonderful needlepoint and to a listen to a presentation by her sister-in-law. I was immediately drawn to photograph the huge project hanging on the walls of the huge room in the synagogue.
Being an avid crafter all of my life, embroiderer, crocheter, knitter, sewer, quilter, scrapbooker, miniaturist, sketcher, painter and artist, it would come as no surprise that I was mesmerized by the project that was before my eyes.
Having never participated in Shabbat services (even when living two short blocks from a synagogue for several years) I do not consider myself to be religious in any way. But if a Jewish holiday is coming up, I always prepare a lesson and a craft or cooking activity in class about that holiday. I do possess knowledge of the religious and historical significance of most of the holidays and avidly cook traditional food that I serve during them. To me, it’s all about bringing family together to celebrate Jewish tradition, but not in the pure religious manner.
One spin off is being a part of something much bigger than just doing some cross-stitch. Imagine I’m part of a worldly group of thousands and cross-stitching the Torah in Hebrew, including: an agnostic Jewish woman, a Mormon fire chief, a Muslim immigrant from Turkey and a Mother Superior at a church in the English countryside to mention just a few.
During the presentation, I was enlightened to the Torah containing 5 books, being: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. What I had seen on the walls was only the first book. They needed more than 300 more volunteers. I was in!
Signing up to cross-stitch a portion really did surprise me though, but looking back, I thought it was inspiring, a way to go back to my Jewish roots, participate in a huge project and do my share, along with create something so meaningful and do some handwork, something that I hadn’t done for many years.
I was so eager to get into the work and dug right in. I thought it was good enough to baste the borders on the cloth! Then stitch, rip out, stitch, rip out for the first row and part of the second. Humm! So much ripping out and I was going to run out of thread. I hadn’t carefully read the instructions, helpful hints or tips and at first I thought I had failed. Well, failure is not a word in my vocabulary. So I decided that I’d better be a ‘good student’, I went to do my research.
After the first week of stitching and I have finished 2 complete rows (5.5 more rows to go)…and I think it looks pretty good!
My portion is Numbers 7:55-7:58. It is part of the story of an outsider from another country who has an affair with the wife of the Israelite leader at the time. This causes a war between the countries. The Israelites win and the punishment is that the outsider must pay retribution in the form of one silver charger of the weight of an hundred and thirty [shekels], one silver bowl of seventy shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary; both of them full of fine flour mingled with oil for a meat offering, one golden spoon of ten [shekels], full of incense, one young bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year, for a burnt offering and one kid of the goats for a sin offering. My portion is short and leaves a large portion at the bottom of the aida cloth which is big enough for an illumination (illustration) for embroidering. Being in China while doing this stitching, I am thinking that I may embroider a yuanbao, which is ‘boat-like’ type of silver or gold ingot currency used in imperial China. Since the illuminations are limited to 5 colour choices and grey or silver isn’t one of them, I’d have to get creative!
If I don’t finish in 6 months I won’t kill myself, but I certainly will think about it…haha@!
For more information on how to sign up to stitch, or to visit the exhibit at Darchei Noam in Toronto, visit torahstitchbystitch.org (mention my name and they’ll mail you a kit).
Interesting reading about this delightful project at http://nationalpost.com/news/religion/the-stitched-torah-toronto-tapestry-project-inspires-volunteers-from-around-the-world/wcm/53889c37-86c3-40d2-91e6-1e4ae6062e83
Now here’s a recipe that sings fall! An amazing taste that can’t be better. Your house will smell like pumpkin pie.
Before getting deeply into the big project, the Chinese Tea House, I decided it would be good for me to ‘reactivate’ my rusty mini-skills such as painting, gluing, cutting, sanding and attention to details, those skills that I haven’t used for 10 years. So I made these wooden slot and tab building kits. The ancient styles include a Chinese Opera Theatre, a Chinese Tea House, a Chinese Silk Factory and a Chinese Inn or Hotel.
As good as they were when completed, they lacked a certain authenticity because of the exposed edges and the slots and tabs not being painted.
I worked to match the paint colours and painted the blue-grey and the brown exposed edges and white spots. Now I feel much better about their looking more authentic than before.
Last touch will be to paint the off white parts. Another job for another day.
Ramblings on the Slow and Steady Progress of My Chinese Tea House
I received my order of 1,000 Starbuck’s wooden stir sticks to make the wood plank flooring. Good thing it was that much since more than half the sticks are wonky in some way, not straight or not flat.
After sorting enough sticks for the floor, I weighted them down with a board so that they could flatten even more (it’s the rainy season right now in Kunming, China) so the humidity should have some positive effect.
As for the knock-off PaperClay, it’s fine. It dried well, it stuck to the board and it only shrank a little. No cracking, which is a good thing. I’ve decided when I start to do the brick walls, I will do sections horizontally. Need to measure off the horizontal rows and use my long metal ruler to carve the horizontal lines of bricking. Then go on to carve the vertical lines for the brick. My bricks will be 1″ x .25″ and will simulate the Beijing brick which is longer and thinner than Western bricks.
Then I also need the Pu’er Tea Cakes that are wrapped in tissue paper with a round label. I’m trying out different colours and textures of fine tissue to see what’s the most realistic.
So much to do! I’ll keep you posted.