I only saw one female artist/crafter the whole time we were in Israel. She was in Tel Aviv at a craft market and she was crocheting the finest cotton thread into necklaces and earrings and brooches. Her work was beautiful and I stood there for a while watching her hands perform those familiar stitches over and over again.
Male artists/crafters we saw aplenty.
They were old and they were young, and they were making in shops, in the street and in market stalls. We saw shoe makers and carpet weavers and jewelers and painters and wood workers and tailors.
We saw a guy sitting just outside his shop in one the busiest streets of Tel Aviv carefully mending a Persian carpet. Strand by colourful strand he wove the colours back into the worn patch oblivious to our watching eyes.
We saw men hunched over parchment painting intricate landscapes and scenes using calligraphy quotations from the Bible.
We saw a man in a busy market place on an ancient treadle sewing machine mending clothes and chatting to passers by.
And we saw this man. He hesitated when I asked him through a translator what word he'd use to describe his art and eventually settled on silver smith. We thought artist or artisan was more apt.
This man was tucked up in the side of his tiny shop in the ancient cobble-stone lined city of Tsfat in the North of Israel. As we walked around admiring his gallery, he continued the intricate work he was doing on a Hanukkiyah undistracted.
Despite the fact that our family virtually filled his space to overflowing and I was moving around taking photos of everything I could, he seemed happy and relaxed and comfortable.
I love watching their hands making the work, sometimes careful and concentrated and sometimes fluent and fluid and flying. I love examining their tools and how they are organised, particularly if they show signs of being homemade and well loved. I love imagining the story of how they began; was it a family trade passed down through the generations, was there a mentor/apprentice type of exchange, or was it self taught?
I wonder how long they have been sitting in that spot, doing that thing.
I wonder if the carpet repairer ever wishes he made the whole carpet, if the tailor swears when he breaks a needle and if the calligraphers have to start again if they make a mistake.
I couldn't get this guy out of my head for ages after we left his little shop. I thought of him hunched over his beautiful work day in-day out, creating the most incredible artworks that now grace the mantlepieces and walls of homes all across the globe. I wish I got a wider shot of his shop so you could see his little work area set into the wall amidst his treasures, just beautiful.
My own makings have been far from successful since we've been home. I seem to be unravelling and unpicking everthing I start. I'm blaming the jet lag.
I hope you are feeling inspired and creative.
What are you making/baking/growing?
More creative spaces here.
Wow, is that the time?
I'm off to pick up my girlies.