Like white on rice
If both time and money for this kittle were unlimited I would be embroidering the text by hand in white silk or embroidery floss in large block lettering on the beautiful white patterned shirting that I bought to make this kittle. The embroidery would have enough dimension to be visible and that kittle which exists just in my head would be magnificent. Unfortunately, this kittle needs to be ready this Rosh HaShanah and not in a few years.
A kittle, much like a First Communion dress needs to be white, to give an impression of whiteness. This platonic ideal is wonderful.
But if I am calligraphing white text on white ribbon the result will look like absolutely nothing, a little like the Emperors New Clothes. I had noticed in my internet searching of kittles that some of the super fancy deluxe ones are embellished with silver lace.
I used that as my cue and mixed up a pale silvery dye/paint mixture for the lettering.
I was taught a long time ago(the summer of 1982 by Ruti who was a Bezalel student on the Ramah New England arts and crafts staff with me) that all lettering will look much better if outlined.
I followed her advice using a dye/paint that is a soft pale shimmery gold. It is barely a color difference, and yet it makes the lettering better.
My client is anxious that this kittle give the impression of white. She's right, but I also know that by making the lettering not really white it will be visible. I am thinking about the tricks that impressionist painters used to create white while mixing a whole lot of other pigments into the white. I am thinking about how bluing is added to white loads of wash to create the look of white.
I think that as I get all of the lettering on to the ribbon I will get a bit braver with my color choices.
The not- white will appear as shadows on the white.
Just as I am expanding on the colors that I am using on this kittle I am also expanding my choice of texts used on the klittle. I am including not only the texts my clients chose but some others that I believe will resonate for the man destined to wear this kittle.
One of the joys of working on this project during the summer of 2016 is being able to download a High Holiday prayer-book from the early 1800's onto my tablet and carefully copy chunks of liturgy from those ancient pages.
This isn't hand embroidery but it is hand work done with care and thoughtfulness.