Thursday, February 28, 2013

An Embroidered Ketubah for Alicia and Jack


Before I say anything about this piece, I have to acknowledge the endless supply of patience and grace displayed by my friend Alicia, the bride who commissioned and helped design this piece. Holy moly cows batman, the girl is kind of amazing (and hilarious too). She first contacted me about doing this a little less than a year ago and with all my over-scheduled-trying-to-do-everything-crazy life right now, it has taken me that long to squeeze each phase of the project in. That's a shame really, because it's this kind of project I love doing the most and I'm so honored to have been asked to play a part in their big day!

Alicia and I share a similar design/work background so it was easy to communicate about the style and layout despite the long-distance now between us. That, and she's just got great taste, obviously. With her to tweak, specify, and reel me in where needed, I drew the design and layout of this 18x24 inch piece which I then embroidered by hand with colors to complement the rest of her wedding scheme.

Ketubah, detail 1

This piece is what is called a ketubah, which is perhaps best described as a marriage contract, and is integral to the Jewish wedding ceremony. Much like a chuppah, the decoration can be very personal and is an important form of ceremonial and religious art. To complete the piece, a calligrapher will fill in their names and date on the banners and the text of the document itself within the central oval. I can't wait to see the finished piece and love that we were able to find a way to use the banners as a bridge to unite the embroidery and calligraphy within the piece.

You're going to get a hint of how crazy I am when I tell you that I've never actually done any embroidery on paper before this...whaa?! I'd read about it, and seen plenty different examples of it, but this was my own first stab at it and so learned a lot along the way. With paper, the process is completely unforgiving, and even more so with such a big piece as this. Luckily, my paranoia helped me keep the paper safe and sound and completely free from scratches, dings, bending, or tears throughout the process. Insert massive sigh of relief here (well, actually that will come once I know it has shipped safely and arrived safe and sound!!).

Ketubah, detail 2

Ketubah, detail 3

Embroidery on paper is also a much slower process because it requires a stabbing rather than a sewing method for the embroidery due to the inflexibility of each stitch. I also had to be a bit picky with the types of stitches I ended up using, keeping in mind what the card stock could support and how many holes could be punched in any one given spot without tearing. The backstitch was a great solution although I think my favorite part are the way the full french knots turned out which you see in the second to last photo. More on all that later though as I'm getting a bit technical here and think I will share a tutorial on basic methods for embroidery on paper with you as soon as I can sort through all the WIP photos I took.

Thanks to Alicia and Jack for entrusting me with this lovely project—may your wedding day be as joyous and beautiful as your life together!


Meeling said...

How lovely! I've never embroidered on paper either, seems like you'd have to be much more careful as paper wouldn't be as forgiving as fabric.

Charmaine Sylvia said...

Wow this looks incredible! Thanks for sharing
Sparkles of everything design and events!