a blog about what interests me! birds, baskets, butterflies, moths, biking.............

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Process: Working on a Commission

Torah Pointers from the Barr Collection
   When I was asked at the Smithsonian Craft Show if I would make a 'torah pointer', I had to admit I never heard of one. A "yad" (Hebrew for 'hand') is a long, stick-like object used to point to the text while reading from the Torah scroll. Clay Barr has a collection of both old and new pointers and is commissioning artists to make more. The collection was established as a memorial to her late husband, Jay D. A. Barr, who died in 1994. It now numbers about 200 pieces. Clay will eventually have a museum show along with a catalog of her collection.
     While talking to her I got a good idea of what she liked about my work and how it would translate into a torah pointer. I made some quick sketches and took lots of notes so when I returned home, I would remember all the details. Then I made a more detailed sketch (above) and got to work. I decided to make two since I wanted to play with the color combinations which were black, off white and red.
beads planned out for the pod
   I wove two small, pod shaped baskets about 1 1/2" by 3" out of black ash, then figured out the number and sizes of the beads I would sew on. The beads for this one are black, wood discs, red, vinyl discs, fish vertebrae and seed beads.
beading the pod 
    I sew the beads onto the basket with nylon thread using a curved needle. Once the beading is finished, the next step is the coiling.
coiling the pointed end of the Yad
   The coiling is attached directly to the open end of the basket. I wrap waxed linen thread over paper cord, and stitch every 5th wrap to the row below.
At the end of the coiling, I added the pointed end of an African porcupine quill.
The stem is coiled separately, then stitched to the basket.

The stem is sewn onto the basket, it's almost complete!
Pointed ends with quills

I made a small hand and attached it to the end, I did the same for the black pointer.

 Here are both finished Torah Pointers. The red one was chosen for the Barr Collection.