Sunday, September 26, 2010

Special Children

Or, aren't they all special??? 

A friend of mine, Jette Sorensen, challenged me to post the following paragraph, and leave it up for one hour, on Facebook. Heck, I'll put it up and leave it forever on my blog. It bears repeating often, and reading frequently:
Children with special needs don't have an illness, so there is no cure and it's not contagious. They want what we all want, to be accepted. Most of you probably won't copy and paste this. Could you do it and leave it on your status for at least one hour? It's Special Education week and in honor of all the kids who need a little extra help and understanding every week, not just Special Education week.
 I also honor all those dedicated teachers who have devoted their lives to teaching these special need children. It takes a special kind of person to choose this road, which is often difficult and emotionaly taxing. Yet they never give up and they do it with grace and compassion!  Thank you!
BTW, my visit with my sister Gail who just retired from teaching was wonderful but way too short. Thanks, Gail, and come back soon!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In Celebration of My Twin Sister!

Yes, I did Grow up Jewish, but my main sense of identity as a child was my status as a TWIN!  My twin sister, Gail, and I are not identical, but we would often finish each  other's sentences, and we talked  "we and us" rather than "I or me."  When we were away at different colleges, we would often purchase the same shirt, nightgown, etc. As we started families of our own, living apart became more difficult. Sadly, cousins who resembled each other did not grow up playing with each other.

Now as my son is now raising twin girls of his own, my sister Gail is coming to meet them, and I imagine we will reminisce about a shared childhood so long ago.I can't wait!

Petoskey stone and sterling silver necklace by Ruth Shapiro
As a side note, I must tell you about a special vacation with my sister. About 4 years ago, Gail invited me to come to visit, to go camping. I hadn't been camping in many, many years, so of course I jumped at the chance. We spent days searching in knee deep, freezing water along the shores of Lake Huron, near her home, for the famous Petoskey stones. We even got some young kids involved in a contest to see who could find the biggest and best examples of these fossils.* We filled pails, boxes,and shoes with the wonderful stones. You see, I had recently learned lapidary skills, and my brain was brimming with ideas for jewelry! Upon arriving at the airport to go home, I was asked by the airline luggage handler "What do you have in here, rocks?!!!!  LOL   Well in honor of my sister's visit to me, I'm posting a picture of a necklace I made from just one of those Petoskey stones, after slicing it into pieces and polishing and bezel setting each one!!
* A Petoskey stone is a rock and a fossil, often pebble-shaped, that is composed of a fossilized coral, Hexagonaria percarinata. The stones were formed as a result of glaciation, in which sheets of ice plucked stones from the bedrock, grinding off their rough edges and depositing them in the northwestern portion of Michigan's lower peninsula.
Petoskey stones are found in the Gravel Point Formation of the Traverse Group. They are fragments of a coral reef that was originally deposited during the Devonian period, about 350 million years ago. When dry, the stone resembles ordinary limestone but when wet or polished using lapidary techniques, the distinctive mottled pattern of the six-sided coral fossils emerges. It is sometimes made into decorative objects. Other forms of fossilized coral are also found in the same location.
In 1965, it was named the state stone of Michigan. (Thanks to Wikipedia!)

Petoskey stones resemble  Indonesian fossilized coral, which is found with beautiful warm colors of yellow, peach, pink, etc.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

I Love My Work!!

I woke up today thinking about all the non-work-work I had to do-cleaning my house, collecting expense receipts for taxes, etc. I thought how lucky I am to love my work, and how great it will be to get back in my workshop and start something new. How few people must look forward to their "work." I used to listen to a radio psychiatrist, David Viscott, who always advised people to find what you are good at and you will have found how to make yourself happy forever!

Along these lines, I found this quote from Norman Vincent Peale:
"Think enthusiastically about everything; but especially about your job. If you do, you'll put a touch of glory in your life. If you love your job with enthusiasm, you'll shake it to pieces. You'll love it into greatness, you'll upgrade it, you'll fill it with prestige and power."

Dawn of a New Day, Brooch by Ruth Shapiro*
So, I will love cleaning my house, and then I will love even more going to my workshop!!! Have a good week!

*Sterling silver, enamel, turquiose, brass bolts,

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mind*Body*Soul Connection= Art Therapy?

Prayer Pod Necklace, sterling silver; healing affirmation is placed  inside.
I've always been fascinated by the medical sciences, and in fact was introduced to the (new at the time) field of art therapy while still in high school. All these decades later, the studies are in and clearly show the connection between the creative side of the brain and the physical body, with art and music leading the way toward healing.                                                                                                                                                                            
I came across the UCLArts and Healing Center thanks to Joy Krauthammer and her work with drumming. I thought you might be interested in this field as well! They have a blog if you'd like to read more: 

See the UCLArts and Healing Facebook page to view photographs with explanatory captions from the following programs:  Sustainable Movement, Beat the Odds Drumming, The Healing Beat, Healing and Transformation through Art, Body Talk through Art, and Music for the Soul programs.

Photographs from a Sustainable Movement program offered to the UCLA Staff Assembly on August 25, 2010 can be viewed at:

Company Overview:
UCLArts and Healing achieves it goals through: • Affordable, experiential education to enable people to experience the healing power of the arts with an added therapeutic dimension. The process of creative expression reveals unconscious information that can facilitate insight, emotional and physical release, empathy and group support. The arts can also be used to foster social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. • Networking with health care professionals, mental health... (read more)
UCLArts and Healing facilitates the use of arts-based tools for mind/body healing in the community as a vehicle for empowerment and transformation.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Website Design!

Torah Breastplate, Sterling silver, brass, glass;  Congregation Kehillat Israel
I need some feedback (love!) on my new website design, courtesy of my talented daughter, Lauren. Thank you, thank you!!!!

It features my newest pieces with a very easy way to purchase any of them, in contrast to my "old" site that made interested customers call me first, pay over the phone, etc.   That had been my (bad) idea....

Sterling silver and blue bead Mezuzah
Anyway, the photos are better, the descriptions are better, and you can look forward to more frequent updates and ease of use. As usual, clicking on each item brings up more information.

Let me know what you think!  If you are going to be fasting this Yom Kippur, I hope it is an easy one.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Etching Class is a Go!

Etched silver earrings with amethyst
After talking about an etching class for the past two months, I've come up with the date of Sunday, October 3rd. I would have scheduled it earlier, but the Jewish holidays intervened. At any rate, the fee of $65.00 covers all materials and chemicals. You may have to bring a few simple things, such as a Sharpie, eye protection and an apron, but I'll send you a complete list as we get closer, and when you reserve a space.
Sheet music etched in copper
Tentatively, class size will be limited to 8.

Also, the class will be from 10-3 or so, and it will be in Los Angeles. The location will be revealed later.

Etched amulet in copper
The main key to success with etching is to have a good image or design in mind. The etching adds texture and detail. A few tips and tricks on how to add your design to the metal in preparation for etching, and you have it all!

Please send  an email to with any questions and to reserve a space.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Judaic Art -Where's the Connection?

Custom Torah Pointer (yod)
Tomorrow I will get together with 7 other "Judaica artists."  I know two of them-noted photographer Bill Aron, and Rhonda Kap, a metalsmith, not unlike myself. The three of us used to display and sell at the wonderful Temple Isaiah Festival of Jewish Artists, in Los Angeles. It was an annual ritual for us, every November each year. It was one of the first  high quality shows of Jewish art, and a model for others to aspire to, around the country. Artists were juried into the show, and came from many countries. That festival was a gift to the Jewish community of Los Angeles for 25 years. I was privileged to be there for about 23 of those years, and when it ended, I felt a void in my November.

So what is Jewish Art? Is it art created only by Jewish artists? Or can anyone create Jewish art, as long as it contains some Jewish symbolism or conveys a story relevant to the Jewish experience? Perhaps it is art that is principally enjoyed and understood by Jewish people. Probably it is some combination of all, with a few other definitions thrown in as well. Some of it is functional and is used for ritual purposes.Some is purely decorative, and some is abstract and emotive.  I think that those of us who create this art, and those of us who appreciate it and perhaps collect it, feel that we know it when we see it!!

So, tomorrow is the artists' reception for the Judaic Art Exhibit at the Finegood Art Gallery, at the Jewish Community Center, in West Hills, a distant suburb of Los Angeles. Los Angeles has one of the largest Jewish populations in the world. We are now in the time period right between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, real heavyweights on the Jewish calendar. Jews are really feeling Jewish now, even if they feel less so during the rest of the year. Will they turn out in droves for this exhibit? I hope so. Hundreds of years ago, patrons supported their favorite artists. The artist held a position of respect in the community, and did not have to worry about selling his (mostly) creations. Patrons made it possible for the artists to continue working just as artists, while being able to support their families. Were the artists constrained in their artistic styles? Did they have artistic freedom over what they created?  I'm not sure, but it's fun to fantasize about having a patron who will pay for all materials plus a generous salary so we can work as we desire without a care!!
House of God Mezuzah

Seriously, I hope lots of people turn out for this reception tomorrow. I know the exhibit organizers have worked hard, and I also know that all visitors will be in for a real treat!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My Point of View (Excuse the pun!)

Of course we all are greatly excited about the Bar/Bat Mitzvah party that may be coming up in your family, but let's not forget the religious significance of this important event in your child's or grandchild's life. This would be the perfect opportunity to start him or her on a lifelong collection of ritual Judaica. I believe that the Jewish culture has been brought along, perhaps even saved, by the presence of ritual objects used in the home.

Have the proud grandparents or other relatives, friends, or haverim members asked what they can give to your child? They want to give something that is more meaninful and more enduring than a gift certificate to download music. Think about suggesting an exquisite silk Tallit, a a customized bronze or silver yod to use during the Torah reading, or even a small replica of a yod that can be worn as a necklace. Your son or daughter will surely need a beautiful tallit clip to hold the tallit securely on the shoulders, or a silver kippah pin to keep the kippah (yarmulke) on th head. Another idea is a wonderful door mezuzah for your child's room, which will be cherished for a lifetime. A neck mezuzah, star, or chai charm is also appreciated forever.

Have you ever wondered how to thank the rabbi, cantor, religious school teacher or other people so valuable to your child's religious education? A unique and personal option might be to present that special mentor, or the synagogue, with a lovely piece of Judaic art. Perhaps you might consider a beautiful yod, (Torah pointer, as pictured) in your child's name, or a special door mezuzah for the rabbi's office or sanctuary door. How about a mizrach or papercut for the library, or if you're feeling partiularly grateful, a breastplate or new crown for the Torah! However, don't forget to consult with the synagogue or school before you select such a special gift.

The above applies, even more so, to the about-to-be married couple. Think about what will enrich the home and the family that is about to be created. Consider the purchase of Judaic art, including ritual pieces, such as a menorah, Havdallah set, Shabbat candlesticks, Seder plate, etc. Adorn their first home with a lovely mezuzah, remembering that each doorway (except for the bathrooms) will need a mezuzah.

The art work you choose today will become the treasured keepsakes for generations to come.

Next post, I'll define a few of the terms I've used above for my non-Jewish friends!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Musings on Social Marketing

Today 's seminar by Robyn Hawk from A Fly on the Wall has come to a close, leaving me with a few questions to ponder. Yes, I learned how to start a blog and put up a few gadgets or widgets, what ever!! I learned how to make a "like" button and a "subscribe to" box. (Please don't forget to click on these!!

I learned how to tweet, I think, and how to invite friends from my facebook personal page to my facebook fan page and to my blog. (Maybe you're one of them!)

But what I really learned is that I really enjoyed working things out, in person, with the friends who joined me today- Rona, Jette, Brad, Nancy, and Sonya, in addition, of course to Robyn, our teacher, who gave so generously. It's the friends who give of their time and skills, in person, who enrich my spirit. I think one can forget that although a few sentences online from a friend is wonderful,  a living, breathing person whose facial expressions add meaning to the uttered words is quite another!

That brings me to another thought to ponder. I've given up trekking to many of the "shows" where I used to display, in favor of an online presence. The airlines are difficult, the shows are expensive, and yes, I'm getting older. Yes, it took awhile to build a customer following at those shows. It took a lot of time and hard work to drag (schlep) my stuff around the country. It will also take  a lot of time to build up an online business. Maybe I won't have to schlep as much, but my reach might be further. It won't happen overnight. However, I must tell you that this will not be as satisfying. It won't have that face-to-face contact that is the bread and butter of a working artist. Gone will be much of the give and take between an artist and the patron. Feedback, that is part of the artist's field of inspiration will be lacking. So my friends, please take a moment, and write a comment that might very well enrich my creations. Be part of the process! Share your thoughts.

Be well,