Saturday, May 15, 2010

Torah Cover Project - Introduction

I have been commissioned by Temple B'Nai Israel  to create 3 torah covers for their synagogue.  They are located on the Eastern shore of Maryland in the quaint historic town of Easton.  Easton has a lovely downtown filled with many quaint shops and restaurants.  The temple was founded in the 1951.  The current torah mantles are from that era and were donated by members from that time.  Although they were beautifully hand made from velvet with metallic bullion stitches and sequins, it was felt that it is time to update them. 
The rabbi at Temple B'Nai Israel, Rabbi Peter Hyman, was familiar with my torah covers from prior commissions.  He contacted me about working with his current congregation.  And thus this torah cover project has become.  This synagogue is lucky enough to have 3 torahs, and so my job was to design 3 covers that would compliment each other and still project an image of tradition, modernism and Judaism.  A member of the congregation, Vicki Zuckerman, along with the rabbi was integral in guiding the project.  They enlisted the help of another congregant to help make the final decision from the 6 designs I presented.

I have been creating Judaic textiles since 1999, starting with designing and selling quilt patterns as OyVey! Quilt Designs,  Since then I have also done commissions for torah covers and other judaic commemorative textiles.  My designs for Chanukah quilts have been published in many of the nationally known quilting magazines.

I am thrilled to be a part of this rejuvenation project.  Even though I am a fiber artist working alone in my studio, I would like to share my experience and progress.  I will be devoting the bulk of my blogging to creating these torah covers, starting with a quick tour of my studio.

My studio is located on the main floor of my house.  While raising children I found that it was important to have access to my work but to also be available.  This arrangement afforded me flexibility.

My palette is my fabric.  Quilters call it a stash.  It is an accumulation of purchases over many years.  I keep it sorted by color, but find it very difficult to keep tidy - as you can see.

I have 3 sewing machines and my brand of choice is Bernina.  This might not mean anything to non-sewers, but means a lot to those of us that sew.  These machines are work horses and very rarely let me down.

Thread is another source of color.   This is my thread collection above my desk. I use cotton, polyester, rayon and metallic thread, depending on the project.  Most times the thread is a solid color, but sometimes I use a variegated thread.  Thread is used for putting the pieces together, for appliqueing the pieces and for quilting the layers together.  Sometimes it is used for embellishing.

 A very important place in my studio is my design wall.  It runs the entire length of one wall.  Covered in grey felt, I can pin fabrics to the styrofoam underneath.   I use it to help me visualize my progress and make design decisions.

I also use it to pin notes to myself!

So I have used this post to introduce myself to those of you who are not familiar with me and to tell you a little bit about my working environment.  Please feel free to post comments and I will try and answer any questions you may have.

My next post will reveal the unanimously chosen design for the first torah cover.


  1. Hi, Do you have a resource you can share for the top elliptical piece with 2 holes in it. I think they make them out of wood or plastic??

  2. Do you have a resource you would be willing to share for the top piece of the torah cover? It is elliptical with 2 holes in it and is made out of wood or plastic. Thanks.


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