Ketubot

10:20 am - Posted by Rich

Their wedding art and vows

Way back in the 1990s, my then wife and I combined to create traditional Jewish marriage contracts, called “Ketubot”, which is plural for “Ketubah”.   She did the calligraphy, and I did the overall design.   Not only was there a great deal of leeway in the design, but working with couples who were about to get married was a real joy and an honor.  Basically, what I was getting to do was distill all the best parts of their love and relationship into a beautiful piece of art that would be highly decorative, narrative in the sense that it “told their story”, and legal in the Judaic religion, as a binding contract of what they promised each other.    I greatly enjoyed this process, gave each piece everything I had, and did some 170 of them (see images).
Around 10 years ago, requests for these Ketubot became fewer and farther between, and finally ceased.   I missed creating them, and most of all missed that “rarified air” of love and anticipation that each couple had, and that I used as “fuel” to help create these intricate pieces that are not unlike the Iiluminated pages from bibles of the 17th century.
Around 3 months ago, I finally got a new Ketubah commission, though, and I am very pleased to be working on it with the couple who will be wed in mid-June.   We designed it together, and it is a terrific design,  held together by a large orchid that covers some 75% of the surface of the art.   The color scheme will reflect a sun-rise to night-fall feel, like the idea of love being an around the clock deal.
There is Jewish symbolism in the art, but at the top of the art , the largest symbols are on  the whimsical, and definitely secular side:  a bunny and goose dancing.   They are both dressed up in evening attire.   When this art is done, I will photograph it and post it; as it is the dancing bunny and the goose will serve a dual purpose, as the image on the wedding invitation.
Who will do the calligraphy?   We still don’t know, but the eventual calligrapher will have to have nerves of steel, as he or she will be working directly over some fairly involved watercolor illustration I did, although it is of a weak color value, designed to sink into the background once said calligraphy is written, probably in black.    And, if the calligrapher makes an error, I’ll figure out a way to fix it artistically.

Turns out I did the calligraphy, and there were no errors!

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2 Responses to “Ketubot”

  1. Love your style! Sorry I haven’t been in touch. Been crazy-busy this week! But, crazy me, I’m thinking of trying to sing a couple of songs at the next Art Walk in San Rafael. Will you be there? Hope all is going well! Cheers! M6ta