Soon after the last Thanksgiving leftovers were eaten, Cheryl Miller started looking through her stash of Judaic fabrics in her home sewing studio. She wanted to create new art with a Chanukah theme or to gather prior-made items from a storage closet, mostly to decorate her home for the festive holiday. A few metro Atlantans also brought the Chanukah spirit into their homes and to other households with their handcrafted art.
Rubber Stamp Art
When Debbie Taratoot isn’t working with a customer in her store off the Marietta Square, Rubber Stamp Fantasy, she can be found using a wide variety of rubber stamps in the store’s upstairs studio, creating her own Chanukah or other Jewish holiday greeting cards, invitations or artwork. For the Festival of Lights, she gravitates toward Jewish symbolic rubber stamp designs of stars of David, dreidels and menorot. With ribbons, handmade papers, an array of colorful inks, Taratoot uses her art sensibilities and 25-year experience to make her cards and fabric projects such as Chanukah gift bags.
“First, I think about the concepts in my head. I then utilize various stamps, papers, inks or embellishments to create the final project.” Taratoot can also transfer drawings people give her to make customized rubber stamps.
Dr. Terry Segal, therapist and AJT contributing writer, is also a mixed media artist. Because women are not often represented in Judaic visual art, she is making a series of art featuring Jewish women, inspired by the Shekinah, “the Divine feminine in G-d,” Segal said.
“The Hebrew word Shekinah means ‘G-d’s manifested glory’ or ‘presence.’ It can reference the dwelling place of G-d and is often represented as Divine light.” The Kabbalists refer to the Shekinah as the Divine feminine aspect of G-d.”
A mixed-media canvas work, “Menorah Women,” shows a woman representing Segal as the shamas, the matriarch of her family. The women, symbolized by Chanukah candles as a visual metaphor, show Segal’s two daughters and other women she knows. “I make the art whimsical and colorful with an element of emotion,” she said.
Before COVID, Segal opened her basement and home in Roswell to display and sell her art, but now her prints on greeting cards, canvas or paper can be seen and purchased on her Key to Enchantment Etsy page.
Over in Johns Creek, Cheryl Miller says she loves crafting and developing Judaic projects especially for holiday items such as banners, chair covers, placemats and a quilted basket that holds dreidels. She told the AJT, “Before the internet, there wasn’t a large source for handmade Judaica. Now I ‘thrift shop’ for materials to use or embellish existing decor.” She previously appliquéd a Chanukiah on her sweater and used her mask-making experience this year to go with it.
A menorah quilted banner, appliqued 20 years ago, has detached flames that were fun for Miller’s young children to add onto fabric candles for each of the eight nights. She’s planning to sew colorful Chanukah fabric bibs as gifts for her new granddaughter. Miller says she gets many ideas and patterns from the internet’s Pinterest and Atlanta’s Peach State Stitchers workshops, but often creates her own patterns.
Inspired by Matisse
“Drawing with scissors,” a term initiated by Henri Matisse, accurately describes a process I use to cut directly into color, which can be colorful paper or even felt.
My Judaic cutout designs become illustrations for prints, licensed for publications, and greeting cards. Some of my retrospective Chanukah designs include “Dancing Menorah” and “A Miracle Happened.” I tape my prints on kitchen cabinets and walls in my Toco Hills home, adding a festive atmosphere along with store-bought wired miniature dreidel lights or “Happy Chanukah” cardboard letters strung together on windows.
I also cut familiar holiday symbol shapes from felt squares. With fabric glue, I paste them down, adding embroidery and blanket stitching to embellish decorative wall hangings. That project was one I taught with Luci Sunshine at a Peach State Stitchers program several years ago.
During this pandemic, when we and our families are still spending more time at home, perhaps it’s a good time to add the light of creativity and imagination with art and crafts when celebrating Chanukah this year.
Disclosure: Flora Rosefsky is a visual artist and Peach State Stitchers member.