Do You Tatsu?

A few weeks ago there was a gaming and fantasy conference in Tel-Aviv, and my daughter Paz (14) begged us to go to it.

I had never been to one of these before, but it sounded like fun, and I like fantasy – and games – so we said ok.

As we were walking towards the place, we could already identify the people who were headed there – some were n costume, many had fantasy wigs or makeup. It was rather cool.img_1272

We didn’t go for any of the lectures this time (next year might be different), but just took a stroll around all the stalls. There were all kinds of things available – from hand-painted Pokemon mugs to homemade duct-taped swords and hatchets (seeing people walking around with a larger-than-life hatchet poking out of their backpack – awesome. There was even a tent where you could pay per hour to play board games you don’t own with people you’ve ever met. Definitely next time.

One of the stalls was  board game stall, and the guy was explaining the rules of a game I had never seen before – Tatsu. It is a game for 2 players by award-winning Gen42, and has a board that looked interesting, so we listened. The first thing that caught my attention was that the two players move around the board in opposite directions, which is unusual. We listened further, and ended up deciding to buy the game for our family. As he was putting the game in the bag for us, I realized I knew the man. I had a meeting with him regarding a different game several years back. I reintroduced myself, and he told us that since the game was SO new in the country the Hebrew rules weren’t yet ready, and would we like him to mail them to us once they are printed? I didn’t think we needed them, but my sweet husband said Yes, certainly. So the salesman put one of their business cards into the bag as well, and told us to email him with our address.

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We thoroughly enjoyed the other stalls as well, the kids got themselves a few different things (and saw very clearly how very many people of all kinds of ages were into the things they themselves are into, which is another kind of cool). We had more plans for the rest of the day, so it was very late when I finally had a moment to myself that night.

I took the business card out of the bag, and on the spur of the moment wrote the man an email saying if they really don’t have a translation of the rules yet, I’d be more than happy to write it for them.

The next morning, I played the game with Eilon (10), and found it to be every bit as interesting, easy to understand and deep as we had understood from the demonstration. Good game, get yourselves a copy.

The day after our trip, I got an email back saying there was a preliminary translation, but the person who had done it had clearly not played the game, and would I be willing to go over and edit it?
Of course! Yay!

Go check it out: Tatsu Game by Gen42

So where am I now?
I fixed the translation of Tatsu, and was asked to design the Hebrew rule page, and am now working on the translation of yet another game by Gen42 called Hive. Got a copy of the game to play with (more yay!), and I *love* doing this.

Hive, btw, is also a good game – lots of unusual thinking, and it even has extension packs. Check it out as well, way cool: The Hive Game by Gen42

Best Chess set EVER -or- new partnership

It all started with a visit to the Design Museum in Holon. We were given a bonus – free guide to take us around a very special exhibition of the work of Jaime Hayon, Funtastico. The younger kids in the group were given a large, colorful folded card that looked like a big brochure – but on closer inspection it was an assignment sheet. It was happy and colorful, and guided the kids around the exhibition giving them assignments that connected with the things they were seeing. Like this HUGE chess set, for example:
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The assignment was to design your own chess set. There were spaces for each piece you would need to design – King, Queen, Bishop, Knight, Rook and Pawn.

Eilon (then 9) started to work on it, but lost interest before he was finished.

I told him if he completed the design set, I would make him a chess set based on it. This sparked his interest again, and he completed the set: The king is leaning on his sword (“like in the first Harry Potter movie where they play Wizard’s Chess”), the queen has spikes going down her back (“she looks sweet from the front, but really she’s the most powerful piece on the board”), the knight is brandishing his dagger, the rook is a tall tower, the pawns are protecting themselves with shields, and the bishop.. well, the name for the bishop piece in Hebrew is “ratz”, which means “runner”. So he’s running.

Eilon's original drawings for the shess set

Noni chessketch

I must admit at this point I didn’t understand all of it from just looking at it, so I sat with Eilon and he explained it all to me.

Now, of course, I had to get to work. I started with the kings, then the queens. It was fun trying to stick to the sketch but give each piece a little different personality.
Then the bishops, knights and rooks – these all had to look rather similar, since there are 2 in each color. Lastly, the pawns. All 16 of ’em.

 

Once all the pieces were ready, I held my breath until they came through the first firing. Happily, they all survived.

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The next step was color. Rather straightforward for chess, isn’t it? Black, and white. What else is there? But I wanted a little more something in Eilon’s special set. So the white got purple accents, and the blacks got yellow. Then, more waiting.

All the pieces came through the glazing beautifully, and just in time for Eilon’s 10th birthday – this has to be one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever given any of my kids. And I’ve been a mom for a while by now.. Half my life.

I made a chess board to present him with his gift, set the pieces on it, and..

Noni chess

We played.

Road Trip with friends!

I have a group of girlfriends in the community where I live, and we take an overnight trip around once a year, leaving our husbands to handle the kids.
We are each different, with totally different tastes in all kinds of things, but we love this time we have together. There’s nothing like a long drive where we can talk about all the things that have been happening recently in our lives – Bar Mitzvahs, weddings and births coming up, family issues and work issues, community issues and what our kids are up to.

Every trip like this, we try to visit different restaurants, and use the little time we have for various activities that we haven’t done before. We’ve gone horseback riding, cherry picking, hiking, gourmet cooking workshops and all manner of things. At each one of these activities, there is always one of us who really FINDS herself in the activity.

This trip was *mine*.
We started out with a quick visit to the Kinneret (I have this need to see the Kinneret every so often. It helps me focus and refills my energy reserves).

Kinneret Panorama

Kinneret Panorama

From there we went to a Wine Festival in Rosh Pinna. Of course there wasn’t only wine (so many local wineries, unbelievable). There were cheese stalls, bakeries and a wonderful place with jams and sauces in flavors I’d never heard of before, each more wonderful than the next (this was where I spent the most time. And cash). Flavors like Peppered Fig Vinaigrette, Eggplant & Mint spread.. Couldn’t help myself.

Collecting business cards from all the wineries so I can make next year's Graphic Design class better than ever

Collecting business cards from all the wineries so I can make next year’s Graphic Design class better than ever

Showing off the early morning handiwork

From there we continued to a sweet boutique hotel in Tzfat with a really nice restaurant for supper, and then back down the hills to Tiberius where we had an apartment for the night. We were extremely tired by the time we got there, but everyone freshened up, and we listened to music, played Blokus and talked.. and then surprised one of the friends with drinks, cakes and a present for her birthday.
When we got up we had a nail-polish session with our morning coffee, and set off. It was all great fun!

But the highlight for me was really where we went that day.

Best Apple Strudel I have ever had the pleasure to sampleWe started the day with breakfast at a sweet little country cafe full of 50’s-flavored paintings, and the food was outstanding. As we were finishing up, the girl (woman? Lady? What do I call my friends? Let’s leave it at girl. I think we’re all 19 anyway when it really comes down to it) who had organized the day’s activity said she can now reveal that the place we were at was where we were going to spend the rest of the day.
It’s a little village called Kfar Kish.

Best Apple Strudel I have ever had the pleasure to sample

We visited a wonderful little shop called “Riksha” that “lives” in a converted home, and collects collections, retro items like old radios and records, and work by local artists. We were limited officially to half an hour there before the next thing was scheduled to start, but we had a hard time leaving..

Books from the mists of ancient time.. or at least the early days of the State of Israel.. old style, wonderful nostalgia feel

Books from the mists of ancient time.. or at least the early days of the State of Israel.. old style, wonderful nostalgia feel

Shelves of old tools and do-dads, note the dial phone, the intricate slotted spoon and the washboard

Shelves of old tools and do-dads, note the dial phone, the intricate slotted spoon and the washboard

 

But the best was yet to come!

 

We drove to the end of the village, and parked near a sweet little flower garden, with a simple sign on the door: “HaSadariya”. It means a metal typesetter’s workshop.
Really.

HaSadariya entrance sign

HaSadariya entrance sign

As soon as I walked inside I felt like I had come home.

The place is full of trays and trays of metal type, hand-operated machines for print and embossing, it all smells of wonderful print inks and glue.. I can’t tell you how HAPPY I was from the instant I set foot inside the place. Drawers and drawers of metal engravings, old logos from 60, 70 years ago – some perhaps older, trays of print ink with rollers and presses, an old medical form complete with the rows of metal type, perforation symbols, logos and all.

The owner’s name is Haim, and he gives us a tour of the place, including a demonstration of one of the hand-and-foot operated machines. It’s wonderful to watch the rollers disperse the ink on the plate, and the plate gives a small turn after each roll to create an even distribution.. I’m totally enchanted.

Haim offers two types of workshops: print & binding. We split up.
The print workshop provides you with several cut cards, explains how to set up an engraving to print, how to roll the ink and use the press – and you can use any of the wonderful engravings they have, and many of the metal texts – time to mind your p’s and q’s!

I chose the binding workshop.

We were given several pieces of cardboard that were to be the base of our bound postcard album, and Haim explained the process step by step, with all the required patience. We also got wonderful (*WONDERFUL*) Italian paper to cover our albums with. Every step was explained and demonstrated, and we spent a happy nearly two hours gluing, cutting, scoring and folding. Even those of us who didn’t feel like they had just walked into their destiny..

Here’s a little taster of what we did:

 

And here is the final, folded, glued and beribboned album.

The final album, with pockets glued into place, folded and beribboned. I can't believe I MADE that!

The final album, with pockets glued into place, folded and beribboned. I can’t believe I MADE that!

Once our bound albums were ready, we were given 10 envelopes, and were allowed to choose postcards to go into them (these sit in the pockets of our new album) from the collection printed on site, using all the wonderful engravings they have collected over the last several decades.
I *loved* it.

I was on cloud nine the whole way home, and of course I immediately located the website where the wonderful Italian papers can be obtained. I also decided this would be a great thing to do with my daughter for her 14th birthday this August. Happily she sounded as excited as I was.

ps. Anyone who wants to work in book design would do well to learn a little bookbinding. The understanding of the process enriches the work you do, and gives you an edge you won’t even know you’re missing if you don’t.

Goodbye to a Friend

About 2 weeks ago I had to say goodbye to a dear, old friend.
He had been with me for a long time, and I didn’t even realize how deeply he had penetrated my heart, how much of who I am is connected to times he was with me.
Snuffy was our family dog for 17 years. We got him as a sweet fluffy puppy as soon as he was old enough to leave his mother, and he entered our family as my oldest son’s 6th birthday present.

 

snuffy

In all his glory

Snuffy was an adventurer – he loved escaping from the garden and wandering around.. he never realized how much trouble he almost got into. We used to say we should have named him Houdini.. He went with us on endless picnics and hikes, and never ever begged for scraps.

 

In the last couple of months I found myself stopping near where he lay down, hardly moving any more, and saying thank you. Thank you for realizing when I was sad, or when one of the kids was sad, and going over quietly to comfort.

Thank you for being such a good introduction to dogs for oh so many kids who used to be afraid before they met him.

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A friend of Paz’s adores Snuffy

Thank you for making the house seem less empty on those long shabbatot when the boys (then the only kids) were away.

But most of all, thank you for helping me raise them – all of them.

Snuffy helped me teach my kids things like responsibility, the power of existing beside even when nothing is said, unconditional love, manners (!), the transition into old age, attentiveness, selflessness, care and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes in a way I could not have taught without him.

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Sleeping on his rag rug, lovingly made for him by Paz

There can be no replacement for an old friend. Someone who knows you through several transitions, in many forms and multiple situations. I knew him, and he knew me. And it’s so hard to say goodbye. This was one of the hardest decisions of my life, even though I know it was time, it really had to be done. Prolonging or delaying would solve nothing and only cause more pain in the end. We did the right thing for him, even if it felt like it was oh, just a tiny bit too early for me.

 

Goodbye, old friend.

Thank you again.

You will always have a place in my heart.

One for All

In the community where I live there is a Bar-Mitzvah / Bat-Mitzvah program, that takes the 12-13 year olds through various assignments and activities, preparing them to be, according to Jewish custom, adults.
This year’s group were given an environmental project – to renew the color on the animal statues in one of the parks, and decorate the low wall that greets whoever approaches the park and cafe there.

I was asked to help with the design and implementation of the wall. I sat with the parent’s representative, and we came up with three topics that were presented to the kids for them to choose from.
The topic they chose was togetherness – social responsibility.

I took the measurements of the wall, and created a design that would be easy to understand and not too difficult for the kids to carry out.

 

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The writing says, “One for all, all for one”, and the rainbow colors represent the differences between people.

I divided the design into squares to make it easy to transfer to the wall. I also created stencils for all the letters we would need, and a stencil of the community’s logo.

 

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A date was set, and we gathered together. I explained the design and how it connected to their chosen topic. I laid out the stages of the work to the children, and we set to:

First, we divided the wall into 25x25cm squares. Every pair of children received responsibility for a specific column of squares to transfer the design to the wall using chalks.

 

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Once the design was laid out on the wall, the children were assigned different colors to fill out according to the design. Other children took paint and renewed the colors on the cement turtle, alligator, snail and ladybug in the nearby grass park.
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After all the spaces were colored, it was time to add the texts and the logo. This was more delicate work, but they did it beautifully! Their shirts and faces also got slightly decorated along the way, but that’s just an occupational hazard, isn’t it?

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For a final touch, some of the rocks near the base of the wall were decorated as well.Well done, Bar/Bat Mitzvah group of 5776!

IMG_8069.JPGFInal

A gift for a friend

My friend had a birthday, and I wanted to give her something special, something nobody else could.

We had been together on a trip a few weeks back, picking cherries and other fun stuff, and another of our friends had taken a very sweet picture of her holding up a pair of cherries. This is the picture that was taken:

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I took the photograph into Photoshop, and created from it a portrait that looks like a silk-screen printing.
I sent it off to be printed on a large canvas.
But the production time meant it wasn’t going to be ready for her birthday! And we had planned to go out, a few friends together, to celebrate.. what was I going to do?
I took the portrait file I had created, made it much smaller, and added a birthday greeting. I printed it out on my printer at home, then I glued it on to cardboard, and CUT IT UP into puzzle-pieces.. I arrived at the cafe where we were celebrating with a little gift bag full of cardboard pieces..

I told my friend, “This is part 1 of your present. Part 2 will arrive next week. Please open this before the food arrives, otherwise you won’t have enough room..”

She opened the bag, saw the pieces and said, “Oh, I love puzzles!” and proceeded to put it together. She realized which were the text first, and understood it’s “A lady, with sunglasses” when the other friend, who had taken the original photo said, “Oh my gosh, the cherries!”

My friend did a double-take, looked again at the puzzle she was putting together, and exclaimed, “Wait! That’s ME!”

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Of course she loved it, but she had no idea that the week after I was going to come over to her house and present her with the full sized canvas. She got excited all over again 🙂

Happy Birthday, Einat!

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Judaica Papercutting Templates

IMG_7902Jewish papercuts are nothing new.
Papercutting as a craft is nothing new either.

But I’ve recently been thinking – letting crafters cut their OWN Judaica art, to decorate their homes or to give as gifts – I don’t think I’ve seen that anywhere.

So I’m starting a new trend – DIY Judaica paper art.
Come and be a part of it – the first template I have designed is already in my Etsy store for sale, and I’m also happy to design custom cutting templates. It’s really simple: All you need is some paper, a cutting surface and a cutting knife. Any art store has those.
You download the file, print it out on your lovely paper, and cut away the grey areas.
When you are done, you flip it over, and reap the compliments.
To give a really perfect gift, frame it.
Come, see for yourself how awesome this is. This is the listing in my Etsy shop.

My most loved hobby

This is my most loved hobby.

Why most loved? Because it’s the one that makes the largest number of people happy..

Facebook-cake

Facebook-cake

New toys!

I found a set of truly special watercolor brushes for Photoshop.

These are not your usual, run-of-the-mill brushes. The results they give really emulate true watercolor work, with lovely variations of color, and even brushes that create salt and alcohol effects. Anyone who has ever worked in watercolors will completely connect with these possibilities.

I have looked for brushes like these for quite a while, but every type I had found fell short of the real effect – until I found these.

No, they’re not free. But they’re not expensive either.

So I shelled out my $8, and I have never loved Photoshop more. Makes me want to paint in a way I haven’t felt in a while!

See what they can do:

new toys!

My first playtime with Kyle’s Watercolor Brushes

You can find these amazing brushes – and more besides – here: https://gumroad.com/kyletwebster

Actually learning WordPress

This site was originally built by playing around on WordPress a few years ago. I played around, fiddled with things I found, and uploaded some work. What I wanted was a showcase, a nice looking portfolio I could send clients to.

I wasn’t really interested in learning code (I’m still not), but I wanted something easier to manage than the wix site I am also running, and more customizable.

I also knew several web designers/builders who use WordPress for their clients, so I knew it was a respected, well built platform.

Last week I started attending a small course in WordPress, and a whole new world is opening up. It’s awesome. And I love learning as well as teaching..