If a project runs from initial contact to either banking the final payment or officially agreeing no-go, I'm presently juggling:

five ketubah projects
nine Torah repair projects
three Misc Art projects

plus the Torah I'm writing and two megillot.

Plus the things I want to do for myself, you know, like write myself a pair of tefillin and make a couple of pieces of artwork and this and that. Write a new tiny mezuzah to replace the one the dog ate. (Why'd she have to eat the special tiny one? Why couldn't she have eaten a six-incher?) Plus moving house at the end of the summer (destination presently undertermined).

Last summer, having an apprentice gave me some really good creative energy for Torah-related stuff. Hoping this summer will have a similar effect. It's certainly making me do more admin than usual.

(Edited forty minutes later to add: make that four Misc Art projects...)
hatam_soferet: (toothpaste)
( May. 3rd, 2009 04:31 pm)
Here's a business tip. When you make a sketch for a piece of work, always, ALWAYS, keep it. Even if it's a one-off piece of custom work that you're certain no-one will ever want another one of - keep the sketch. Even if it's just for line breaks and it only took you half an hour to put together in a word-processor - keep the sketch.

Because the piece may get lost in the post. They may want you to redo it in purple ink. It may be that you were wrong about no-one ever wanting one just like it. They may spill coffee on it and need a replacement. Just keep the sketch.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 22nd, 2009 07:42 pm)
Hebrew Name KeyringsThis is what I was doing this afternoon (clicky picture for bigger). The shul had a Lower East Side Nostalgia Fundraising Klezmer Concert Thingumajig, and I was being the Lower East Side Sofer stall, where people can get their Hebrew names written. I had a cracking time.

I do this writing-Hebrew-names thing a lot, and I rather enjoy it; names are easy, and people like them very much, so it's a very good investment-to-return ratio. I don't usually do it in my home shul, though, so today was a nice change; no travelling to speak of, and writing for people I actually know is nice also.

Normally I just write the names on parchment-look paper, but I had a Brilliant! Idea! in the form of keyrings, clear acrylic ones into which one slips the paper, and then it's cute and useful and all kinds of shiny. And my goodness they were flying off the shelf; from 12-3 I did 45 keyrings, as well as names-on-paper. I'd only brought about 35 keyrings with me, had to do the rest at home and mail them. People were buying them as afikoman gifts, which is very sweet.

I do feel a bit guilty for contributing to rampant consumerism - if Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is the thing, cutesy keyrings fail on the first step - no-one actually needs a cute keyring with their Hebrew name on it. So perhaps I should come up with something made of paper instead - a bookmark, or something - that is less wasteful of resources. Any bright ideas?
Here's part 1. In brief, R' Yosef said that potentially women could read and write Megillah, and there was lots of hoo-ha. Part 1 talks about the hoo-ha.

This part is about the writing. R' Yosef said
ancient megillahs written by women have been found in Yemen
. I would like to know more about this! Anyone got any leads? I am reasonably sure that R' Yosef is much too busy to reply to any query I could send him, and anyway I am not nearly important enough to bother someone like him.

Anyway, he used the Yemen women by way of illustration that women may write megillot.
However, he admitted wryly, it is an open question "whether anyone would buy it."

I've sold eight. Add in the other soferot working today and you must get up to, ooh, coming on for a couple of dozen. News of this bit of creeping feminism obviously hasn't crept very far.

But that's okay, halakhic-egal Judaism has had female rabbis for twenty-some years, but it only just got a Torah scribe (not that it's commissioned any Torahs yet, only the Reform and Recon do that, isn't that silly). Scribes aren't exactly at the forefront of things.

Anyway, I'd be jolly interested to hear about women and megillot, in Yemen or anywhere else really. Ideally actual sources, and not just "X said that Y said that Z said."

On to part 3, not that they're all that sequential really.
Would anyone like to do a little bartering?

What you get: A mezuzah written for you by one of my students
What you give: Tax preparation for a freelancer who moved to NYC from CT during the last year.

You do her taxes, she writes you a mezuzah... email me if interested. A nice mezuzah. Not one of those rubbishy little scribbled jobbies.

(Female student, hence this mezuzah is no good to you if you have a non-egal household...c'est la vie.)
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 19th, 2008 10:43 pm)
When doing border designs:

Draw the design onto tracing paper. This is good because it means you can sketch and change your mind without messing about with the actual art paper.

Transfer the design from the tracing paper onto the artwork however you please - there are various ways of going about it; I generally tape the tracing paper to the window and tape the art paper over that, and trace it. I like this because you can just turn the tracing paper over to do the other side and you get the mirror image. Obviously it only works during daylight :)



Then next time you want a similar design, you're already far ahead of the game. Even if you don't want to do exactly the same thing, modifying something you already have tracings for is very much easier than doing the whole thing from scratch, by a factor of about twenty.

The sense of relief generated upon realising this is tremendous. I do advise trying it.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Nov. 21st, 2007 06:56 pm)
One of those grey days where it gets dark early, and I felt like doing something a bit different. Here's what I did - stencil work, embossing fun Japanese handmade papers, so that the letters stand out from the paper. I had red, green, blue, and white paper around, so I did a red one, a green one...

And then I put them up on eBay so that they can find good homes. See them all for sale here.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( May. 20th, 2007 12:31 pm)
you know

I hate when I deliver a ketubah and don't hear from the recipient

it usually means they don't like it

today I heard from a recipient

I missed out a line, which was bad enough

but also they didn't like the way I did it

they said "we've been wondering how to engage with you on this question"

I tried

I guess it's a good thing I missed out the line

since I have to rewrite it anyway I can do it differently

i tried.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Oct. 29th, 2006 10:16 am)
Yes, you can now get your own Tefillin Barbie. I'm putting one Tefillin Barbie on eBay; this probably won't be the last, but it's the only one for the moment.

Barbie on eBay
OK, people are supposed to have sent me money, and they haven't. Chasing invoices is BORING. I'm still waiting to get paid for work I did at Purim...and it's the 14th day of the Omer if you're counting in base eight.*

* Like a clock. A clock works in base twelve; after you've been round once, you start over. We normally use base ten. The Omer** uses base ten for the first count and base seven for the second count ("one week and two days..."). I'm using base eight in this post because I want to.

** Starting at Pesach, the festival marking the beginning of the harvest, we count fifty days, and then have another festival marking the end of the harvest. It says in the Torah to count the time, so we do. Literally. Every night. This is the Omer. Omer actually means sheaf, which is fair enough when you remember it's all about harvesting. When we're done counting, we bring a sacrifice*** of the new wheat, and then tuck in.

*** in the case that the Temple in Jerusalem is functioning. If not, we just think about it really hard for a few minutes.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 29th, 2006 02:50 pm)
Almost the whole morning went on making backup CDs of my hard drive. How did it take that long? I don't know. But now I have a pile of CDs with my more important stuff on them. Especially the pictures - digital pictures are the only records I have of some of my work. I suppose if I'm really serious I should stash copies with someone off-site, or invest in one of those little fireproof boxes. Hhrm.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Mar. 27th, 2006 09:28 pm)
I got up at 5am today to catch a bus to Philadelphia. The 5am part wasn't so great, but the Philadelphia part was fun. I was assessing the Torahs in a shul, which means taking a whole lot of notes regarding the conditions of the sefer with an eye to estimating how much it'll cost to restore them.

They had six Torahs - three bad, three good.

One was in basically good condition but for the seams, which someone had stuck together with duct tape. People, please - if your sefer's seam breaks, either use artist's or archivist's tape, or don't tape it. The duct tape had not only dried up but had left hideous, hideous stains, which probably contain elements of non-kosher animals as well as being a ghastly orange-yellow - and the seams still need to be fixed. Overall gain negative.

Two were hugely satisfying, because the text and klaf were in lovely condition, really fine quality, and nicely written - but very, very, very dirty. So dirty that they looked to be in awful condition and perhaps beyond restoration, but hurrah! the dirt will almost all come off, and they'll look like new Torahs by the time I'm done with them. I was very happy about this, because it was such a nice surprise for the shul! Instead of two Torahs headed for retirement, two high-quality sefarim which won't cost too much to repair...nice!

One was in a terrible condition, but it was a Czech Memorial Scroll, so you'd sort of expect that. It would be fiendishly expensive to repair - it had extensive flaking, which I'd guess came from being stored in a damp warehouse by the Nazis - but those scrolls are terrific educational tools, there's all kinds of history/geneaology/shul-twinning things that can go on. Sometimes they have enough sentimental/historical value that repairing them is worth the expense. After all, these were scrolls that the Nazis collected up to put in their museum of Jewish stuff - they were supposed to be the last things that were left after the Jews had all been killed. So restoring them to use carries a pretty powerful message.

Two were in truly terrible condition, really beyond repair from a financial perspective. They had been designated Junior Scrolls, which meant they were hanging out in the Hebrew school area. It's not clear what they're used for; they can't be being read from since they're largely illegible. One of them had crumbs and sesame seeds in it. I'm a little bit concerned by this; it seems to me that these scrolls ought to be retired, because it doesn't seem to me that the educational benefit outweighs the indignity. What do you think - am I over-reacting?

There was a collection of Russian cantors visiting the shul - mostly Russians who got here and became cantors (some of them had been opera singers in Russia) - they were doing choral stuff for fun. I listened to them for a bit; they were very nice to listen to indeed. Unusually for a choir of cantors, they had excellent blend. Every other cantorial chorus I've heard has had simply awful blend - prima donnas all trying to out-prima-donna the rest. So to hear a choir of cantors singing like a choir was a treat and a half!

Philadelphia seemed very pleasant, the bits of it I saw. Another nice city to add to the list of Nice Places I've Seen. My favourite bit was the statue of Mr Penn on top of the city hall, because it used to be against planning laws to build higher than his hat (this was revoked twenty years ago to encourage business growth). I found this charming.

Journey back marred by the movie - the screens were not showing anything, but the soundtrack was playing: a mixture of very loud music, indistinct speech, screams, and gunshots. At 5pm! It doesn't seem appropriate to be showing people getting killed for fun on public transport, especially during the day. This is basically why I prefer taking the Chinatown buses when I can - no nasty movies.

But when I got home, my W had made supper and it was ready and yummy. A good day.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Feb. 5th, 2006 09:10 pm)
I tweaked the site to allow for international users.

Paypal's setup is sort of annoying; it won't let you vary shipping rates by country. If you want to do that, you have to buy software, and that really isn't sensible for me at the moment. Hence a multitude of buttons for people in different countries. Oh well.
hatam_soferet: (Default)
( Jan. 30th, 2006 12:01 pm)
Phone rings.

"Had you forgotten I owe you $500?"

Yes, I had.


An hour later, the doorbell rings. It's a DHS courier with a large padded envelope. I am not expecting any large padded envelopes. What is it?

Turns out to be the research grant I got awarded back in December.

So far today, that's $2500 completely unexpectedly.