Science Fiction Tallit

When our oldest spent a semester in China, we used to Skype with her weekly.  My husband quips that it was then that he realized that we had entered the 21st century.  There are moments when it feels like we are living in the times described in  science fiction of the 1950’s.

My latest client found me by way of this blog.  She lives across the country. Yesterday, we had our initial meeting via Skype. After a bunch of discussion back and forth Ari, and I nailed down a design.

The text is
באורך נראה אור
in Your light we see light
We recite that  line from Psalms as we put on the tallit. Ari likes the look of the galaxy, a fitting choice for a tallit. 
The deadline for completing this tallit is really soon, so we had to work with silks I have at hand. I will be making this tallit out of this crepe de chine . You can see how nice it is.
I didn’t have the right dyes on hand last night, but I painted a swatch of the silk using acrylic paints.
Today, I went out early to buy the dyes. but first a quick digression.
Our subway station was redesigned a couple of years ago.The new station has changed traffic patterns for the intersection which has been a less than a good thing. Three pedestrians have been killed in the past month .  On the positive side, it’s actually a pretty station.  This is one of my favorite things about the new station.
The new design brings daylight down to the platforms.  The natural light makes the subway feel safer, and less like you are entering Hades. SAM_1887

I bought the dyes at the 23rd street Dick Blick.  One of the bonuses of the trip is the view from the doorway of Blick’s
This sweet little synagogue is next door to the far more famous Chelsea Hotel.

A pretty brick work detail and the famous ironwork on the façade of the hotel.
After my dye procuring jaunt, I got home and got to work.
First I had to cut the silk to size. I could just measure the length , cut a nip into the selvedge and rip.  The rip makes a great high pitched sound. I was taught this method of cutting fabric to length by an old woman who worked in a now defunct fabric store. She had a cigarette hanging out of a corner of her mouth. she had a deep smoker's voice.  She handed me a corner of the fabric I had selected and growled at me “Rip it  Honey!”.  I think of her every time I rip fabric to size.
Cutting the silk to the right width is much peskier. You cut a little nip at the correct width. If you ripped, you have about a 30% chance of getting a clean cut. those are lousy odds withSAM_1892 expensive fabric so instead after you take that nip, you pull a thread and cut along the nearly invisible line made by the absent thread.
That tiny line is your road map for cutting.  You pull and cut, pull and cut.
Yup it’s really really boring. Luckily, Ari, the bat- mitzvah girl isn’t all that tall.

My reward for carefully doing the boring stuff was to begin painting.  I’m spatter painting layers and layers of color to create the feeling of deep space. I began with wet silk so that the colors are laid down delicately. I have put jars under the wet silk to hasten drying time.
I just checked the silk. The jar trick worked. I can add several more layers of color tomorrow.


  1. We used skype when our dd lived in Korea for two years. We also use it to see and chat with our grandson. Technology has it's pluses and minuses, but skype is one of the pluses. How nice that you got were able to use it for a new client. I think that this is going to be a very lovely tallit.


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