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NEW ketubah, Chairs #3 (Two Brides)

posted by Arielle Angel on March 13, 2013

By popular demand, Ketuv artist Giliah Litwack has expanded her “Chairs” series for two brides! Check it out!

Chairs #3 is now available in our shop for all you lovebirds! And don’t miss Giliah’s Chairs #2 ketubah, featured prominently in last week’s Washington Jewish Week, pages 55-56!

NEW Ketubot by Rachelle Tolwin!

posted by Arielle Angel on

Ketuv is pleased to announce the inclusion of two sweet, domestic new ketubot by Rachelle Tolwin!

The first is the Geometric Ketubah. According to Rachelle, this ketubah is inspired by the symbol of the chuppah, a transcendental entranceway to a new phase in the life of a couple, where the transformative act of marriage occurs.

The second is Growing Together, about ”planting the seeds for your life together, as you journey side by side, growing and supporting one another.”

We just love how both of these ketubot make use of symbols that center on the idea of “home” — the chuppah, a lovely pair of house plants. What a wonderful way to signal the transition into wedded bliss!

Monika and Jonathan’s Intimate Maui Wedding

posted by Arielle Angel on December 20, 2012

Just had to share these pictures from Monika and Jonathan’s Maui wedding. I always love the simple talis chuppah–that’s really all you need. And get a load of that BHLDN dress.

It’s customers like Monika– an artist herself who had trouble finding a ketubah she could relate to before coming across the work of Ketuv artist Paola Andrea Ochoa– who make it worthwhile for us!

All photos by Gordon Nash.

Ketubah Signing at Lovely Mountain Nuptials

posted by Arielle Angel on November 13, 2012

Just had to share these beautiful photos of the ketubah signing from Josh and Danielle’s lovely mountain nuptials, taking place at the Banner Elk Winery in North Carolina. The ketubah is Rachelle Tolwin’s Petals Ketubah. Gotta love the post-signing newlywed high five (followed by a kiss, of course)!

I won’t spoil any of the details of this gem of a wedding–you’ll be seeing them on one of your favorite wedding blogs real soon!

All photos by Robby Campbell.


Patterned Ketubah for a Miami Wedding

posted by Arielle Angel on October 1, 2012

When Jacki and Ido asked me to create their ketubah, I was thrilled. The bride has been one of my best friends since age four, and I wanted to contribute to their special day in any way that I could.

The colors of their wedding were black and “Tiffany blue,” and they used a damask pattern on their invitations, seating cards and table numbers. I took this damask pattern, drew and hand-painted it, arranged the pattern facing in several different orientations, and created a 3-D mosaic by overlaying paper “grout” in the bride and groom’s signature Tiffany blue. The grout also encompassed the first letter of the Hebrew and English text.

I had the opportunity of being in the room when the bride and groom signed the ketubah and did a small beddekin ceremony. I thought doing the beddekin in private was a nice, intimate alternative to doing it in front of all the wedding guests (and check out that picture…Yowza!).

Another noteworthy detail was the timing of the wedding– it took place on Biscayne Bay at sunset, under a breezy bamboo chuppah.


The Ketubah Signing:

Abba: Hey, Ido, smell my finger!

Ido: Not now, Abba.

The Beddekin:

This “Beddekin” picture: I’m kvelling.

Reading the ketubah under the Chuppah:

The bride receiving the ketubah.

Check out Jacki and Ido’s simple, elegant bamboo chuppah.

Mazel Tov Jacki and Ido! Thanks for letting me, and Ketuv, be a part of your special day!

Venue: Trios on the Bay, North Bay Village, Florida

Photography: Marisa Matluck

Bride’s Dress: Vera Wang

The Ketubah, The Tish, The Chuppah

posted by Arielle Angel on July 10, 2012

We just received these lovely images from Jackie and Ronnie’s wedding and we just HAD to share them.

Traditionally, before the bride and groom go to the chuppah, the groom has a Tish, where liquor is drunk and the ketubah is signed by two male witnesses. Ronnie’s looked like one helluva party!

Jackie and Ronnie chose Alice Scott’s Pomegranate Gem ketubah. Ronnie is Persian and cited the importance of pomegranates in Persian culture. Jackie’s birthstone is the ruby, which sparkle from inside the pomegranates. It felt personal to both of them, and they both liked the way the ketubah took a traditional symbol and mixed it up a little.

Some couples choose to put their ketubah on an easel. Still others forget this detail altogether and must handle the unprotected ketubah. Jackie and Ronnie dealt with this very cleverly. They had the ketubah framed before the wedding, but without the glass, to allow for signatures. After the wedding, they went back to the framer and added the glass. (If you don’t want to frame beforehand, you can always get your ketubah matted for the wedding and frame later.) The frame without the glass was also light enough for Jackie’s mother to hold the ketubah during the ceremony, which had a very intimate look and feel.

Art Deco Ketubah

posted by Arielle Angel on June 20, 2012

A few weeks ago, my dear childhood friend, Naomi, tied the knot with her partner-in-crime, Ben. They might have just about the cutest how-we-met story in the world. They were each others’ first kiss, when they were both around 12-years-old at Camp Ramah. Their relationship went the way of many a camp romance– Naomi dumped him the next day– but they were destined to reunite years later, when Ben was on business in Miami. He didn’t know anyone there, and decided to contact the only person he “knew”–his old camp flame (thanks Facebook!). Neither was expecting much, but the rest is history!

Their relationship began in Miami and developed in New York, where Ben returned soon after they met, and where they currently live. It may seem that these two places have nothing in common architecturally, but that’s not true: they both have a significant relationship to Art Deco. That was Naomi and Ben’s request from me: an art deco ketubah that featured New York-style deco and Miami-style deco.

I chose the Chrysler building for New York (much prettier than the blocky Empire State), and Miami’s New Yorker Hotel, which was actually demolished in the 80s, but I thought it would be a cute sign to highlight the Miami-New York connection.

Art Deco Ketubah by Arielle Angel

15″ x 16″, Micron pen, acrylic paint and gold leaf on paper, 2012

This is me with the finished ketubah, right before the signing. This was a special experience for me, because not only did I create the ketubah, but I was one of the witnesses as well. This was the first time I got to sign a ketubah that I made. It was very emotional. The groom blessed the bride at this point as well, and there was not a dry eye in the room.

The second witness, Michael, signing the ketubah.

I didn’t get a chance to document the ketubah before the wedding, but thankfully the wedding photographers from Glenmar Studios helped me out. If there was a detail shot, you’d be able to see my best attempt at an “Art Deco” Hebrew font.

Until next time…

The Custom Ketubah

posted by Arielle Angel on March 16, 2012

Custom Map ketubah by Rachelle Tolwin

We know that commissioning a custom ketubah can be intimidating. That’s why we recently shared our tips with Jewish wedding experts, The Wedding Yentas. We had so much info on the topic that the post comes in two parts, Part I and Part II.

If you’re considering a custom work, definitely follow the links to the post as a whole, but either way, here are some excerpts that will give you a sense of the process.

Figure out what your ketubah is about: Talk to your partner about what aspects of your relationship you would like your ketubah to highlight. They should be the things that you feel are truly special about your relationship. You may want to think about the stories that are important to you as a couple: how you met, the moment you “knew,” a trip you took together. Your ketubah can depict, say, the park bench where he proposed, or a map of all the New York City apartments you both lived in before you met one another.

Start thinking about color: This could be as basic as wanting the ketubah to echo your wedding colors, or the colors of your home, or it could be more symbolic.

Figure out what you like: There is no special formula to finding the right artist, and you don’t have to know about art to have an experience with it. Look around. When you like something, listen to yourself. Collect images of the artwork you and your partner like, and look at all the images together to see if there is a pattern emerging.

Communicate: Let your artist in on the details of the conversation you had with your partner, and share your little folder of inspiration images, taking him/her through your vision for your ketubah. In one case, a couple even sent me a crude version of what they wanted, which they sketched out themselves in crayon!

The client’s sketch to the artist’s rendering

As we told The Wedding Yentas, this may sound like a lot of work, but we believe that you and your partner can figure out the basics of what you’re interested in over the span of a dedicated afternoon. It might also be fun, an opportunity to literally “visualize” your relationship. Don’t forget that your artist will also bring something to the table. You don’t have to have everything figured out in order to start the conversation!

Again, for the full post, including more information about ketubah text on a custom work, as well as the details of the agreement between artist and client, please visit The Wedding Yentas, and Ketuv’s posts, Part I and Part II!

Doing It All: Designer and Illustrator Elli Chortara

posted by Arielle Angel on February 8, 2012

It’s been a busy couple weeks here at Ketuv: new inquiries and new ketubot! Last week, we introduced you to Will Deutsch, and announced his new Ahava ketubah for Ketuv’s line. This week, meet designer and illustrator Elli Chortara, and check out her totally fresh ketubot!

Elli’s inspiration for these ketubot is “windswept”– the idea of the wind blowing through a specific scene and rearranging it– in this case, a garden and a field. We think it has a wonderfully graphic and even deco-ish feel.

Bird in the Garden

In the Fields

We are so consistently impressed with Elli and how many different kinds of projects she is involved in, so we recently asked her how she finds gigs and projects and manages her time, and how she developed her own signature style.

Ketuv: What are you working on right now?

Elli Chortara: I am currently working on a series of robot-animal-like creatures, and I am also writing a story about each, a story that communicates messages that go beyond the story of the character to tap into something more satirical, ambiguous or hidden. This will develop into a book project and perhaps a compact theme for a solo exhibition. Visual storytelling is something that I would like to work more with. Imaginary creatures and characters fascinate me!

The Sleepwalker

That Report

Recently, I have been commissioned to illustrate poetry for an Ireland-based poetry magazine called The Shop: A Magazine of Poetry, which is something I find very exciting as a more conceptual part of my practice. The interpretation of words and feelings, moods or messages is something that has always been latent in my work.

I have also been pairing illustration and design by doing some poster and banner design for an arts festival and arts-based organization, Rowan Arts, in London.

K: You do everything from hat design to illustration for lit mags. How you find different projects/gigs?

EC: Sometimes, people I already know might commission me for private work. Sometimes, it will be people who have seen the work online. The important thing is to be able to build a network— to make sure that you build client relationships built in trust and mutual understanding. I maintain a blog as another way of keeping in touch with people and making sure people see the work.

I check out art sites like ArtsJobs in the UK and Re-Title to see if there are any magazines, exhibitions, online sites or zines that need illustrators, and that match my style, and I send them work samples and a link to my website. I am a member of several networks like Behance and the Association of Illustrators (AOI), which have valuable resources. I use social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, and I often do rounds of emails to potential clients and promote my work on artist websites. Of course, if I get the job, and the work is published, that is also another promotional tool for the work itself.

New Era 90th Birthday Hat Design

K: How do you manage your time for all these projects?

EC: The main challenge is to keep myself organized as much as possible, which is not always easy. At the moment, I have a comprehensive schedule on my calendar and mobile phone combining many different work schedules. Keeping one foot on the ground can save time and make life easier.

The other side of things is about maintaining my inspiration levels, which is very much related to exploring new things. I want to make sure to stay active: listening to new music, having a constructive chat, exploring nature, noting down things, and being the person I want to be, despite the everyday challenges and the limited amount of time.

I must remember to pause and take a moment to reflect inwards, as it is often vital to the success of an otherwise hectic day. The important thing for me is to look at the time and to make time, to always look forward to what’s next on the horizon and to maintain a positive attitude.

Black and White illustration for a book of folktales

K: How did you develop your unique style?

EC: Developing a style takes time. It began, for me, during my MA course in Illustration at the Camberwell College of Arts (University of the Arts London). The research process there helped me decide which direction to take stylistically.

But that was only the beginning. You don’t usually leave art school with a ready portfolio or a commissioned project. It’s the work that I have done since then—the experimentations and risks I’ve taken—that have helped most in formulating my current style. It still is a long, joyful process and I don’t think it will ever really end. The work should consistently be pushed further and developed, based on new influences, research, exploration, feedback, and one’s own experience.

For more information on Elli Chortara, visit her artist page. You can also check out her new ketubot, Bird in the Garden, and In The Fields.

Will Deutsch: Swimming in the Deep End

posted by Arielle Angel on February 1, 2012

We are overjoyed to announce our new ketubah: Ahava (Love) by Will Deutsch, an L.A.-based artist and Six Points Fellowship Recipient.

Will Deutsch, Ahava (Love)

Don’t you just love it? We do too, and we decided to talk to Will more about this ketubah, his relationship to Jewish art, what American Jewry looks like, and why artists make art.

Ketuv: Tell us about your Ketuv ketubah?

Will Deutsch: This work was inspired by classic ketubot from around the world. The imagery of a Hamsa is a symbol of both protection and blessing. The pair of fish originated on ketubot in India as a symbol of fertility and a reference to Genesis 1:22 [“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas”]. In Israel, a ketubah most commonly incorporates traditional Jewish imagery like the Star of David, which I’ve used to tie the composition at the bottom. The geometric patterns I’ve used are of Turkish origin from the time of the Ottoman empire.  I’ve also incorporated fleurs and vine-like structures similar to the ones used in Persian and Italian ketubot.  But the impetus of this document remained the same regardless of culture: Ahava, love.


K: What inspires you to make art?

WD: I’ve been thinking a lot about why it is that I make art. In the beginning of the novel “High Fidelity” (also a major motion picture) the narrator asks, “Which came first, the misery or the music?” It is my belief that the misery comes first. This is not to say that all artists are miserable, but rather that the need to make work comes before the work itself.

In order to explain the next part of my theory, I need to call upon another quote: “Life is a comedy to those who live it, and a tragedy to those who think about it.”  In other words, if we were to think of life as a swimming pool, there are those on the shallower end, who look at things and don’t necessarily see their interconnections. They take things for exactly what they are and there is a peace to this, and swimming is easy. Then there are those on the deep end, who think about everything.  Each thought connects to another thought, swimming on the deep end requires more effort, and existence becomes a heavy and at times burdensome thing. It is my belief that most artists/creative people of any sort begin with this ‘misery’ or rather, a way of seeing the world in which there is far more than what is in front of them.

So the question becomes why do these individuals decide to create art?  And I believe the answer is: Permission. There is a permission in art to express thoughts that might not otherwise be appreciated. For example, if I were depressed all the time and prattled on about it all day, people would get sick of hearing it. My feelings would not seem legitimate or be appreciated.  But if I took these same feelings, and applied them to craft, and made a song, or a painting, or a performance, what once was trite now is profound and beautiful.  By morphing these thoughts into crafted, aesthetic pieces of work they can be accepted, and validated.  These thoughts, this work, life, essentially becomes meaningful. And thus creating is the only way to give an artist meaning.

K: Who or what influences you?

WD: In terms of aesthetics, I love Hebraic calligraphy, micrography, woodcuts and cartooning. As far as artists go I’d say Arthur Syzk, Al Hirschfeld, Dave Berg, Ken Garduno, Ralph Steadman, Koren Shadmi, Milt Gross, Humberto Ramos, Joe Madureira, Herbert Baglione and R. Crumb, to name a few.

I also like sourdough dutch pretzels, banter and Jeff Goldblum.

Jewish American Princess

K: How does living in Los Angeles connect with your artwork?

WD: I come from Orange County, which if you’re unfamiliar is a little shtetl about an hour south of Los Angeles where there are more strip malls than Jewish people [Ed note: that means there are a heck of a lot of both!].  Just living up here I feel completely awash in Jewish culture. When you make lots of illustrations about Jewish life, it is definitely influential in the images you choose to make.


K: Tell us about your vision for Judaica?

WD: I grew up in the Orthodox community, and later, when my mother joined the Cantorate, the Conservative Jewish community. Regardless of denomination, nearly every Jewish house I went to had the same three defining aesthetics: 1) Chagall prints 2) Abstract 80′s metal wall sculpture and 3) Pictures of frum [observant] Jews dancing and/or playing some sort of Klezmer instrument (these were usually in or around the bathroom).

In spite of its prevalence, none of this work spoke about the modern Jewish experience. In my family alone there is a Conservative Cantor, an observant Orthodox Jew, an atheist, and an agnostic; yet, all of us identify strongly as Jews. So I took it upon myself to make paintings that encapsulate the essence of what it is that ties us all together. The result is this ongoing collection of work I call “Notes from the Tribe.”  The work ranges from traditional images of Klezmer musicians to Hebrew National Hot Dogs and male pattern baldness.  I have no disdain for the aforementioned aesthetics. On the contrary I think they are defining part of our culture.  My hope is to make a body of work that in the same way defines the intangible way that it feels to be Jewish.

Hebrew National Hot Dogs

K: We’re excited about your series “Notes From the Tribe.” How is the project progressing? Where and when does it end?

WD: It’s going well. I’ve made right around 75 pieces so far. The work is meant to be looked at both individually and as a whole. While one person might tap into a certain image, it’s still meant to be seen as part of a larger body. I think this is analogous to the Jewish experience. We identify our own cultural experience in relation to others. I see my own experiences as part of a greater tapestry.  As far as when it ends, I’m right now planning on making 124 total images on parchment, the length of two torahs.

Chanukah Mobile

K: On that note, Mazel Tov on your amazing Six Points Fellowship! The Fellowship seeks to encourage American Jewish art. What does being an American Jew mean to you?

WD: Thank you so much! Well firstly, I’d say that my work is meant to function as a lens and not a pulpit. That is to say that the representations I create are not how I think all Jews should be or even how they are, but rather how I see it. I remember being asked in Hebrew school what it meant to be a Jew. Was it following Halakhah [Jewish law]?  Was it simply being born to a Jewish mother? Was it having a Bar or Bat Mitzvah? It seemed the only thing we could agree on was that would couldn’t agree upon a single definition.  The idea was nebulous.  This relates to the work I’m making today in that I can’t seem to ‘capture’ this concept. Rather, I can illustrate the things around this central idea that point to it.  For example, if I make a work about blowing the shofar I could say that blowing the shofar is Jewish, but the inverse is not true: blowing the shofar does not encapsulate all of what being Jewish means to every person. So the more work I make, the stronger this central concept of Jewish Identity becomes.  For some people it’s blowing a shofar, for some people it’s Matzo Ball soup, or summer camp or any number of things from feeling un-athletic to the first time they stood in front of the Western Wall.

The Deception of Isaac

K: Any words of wisdom for the artist who is applying for a grant, given your great success?

WD: Be honest with yourself about what you are interested in making and exploring if you are given the resources, but also be ambitious in your vision. The most amazing thing about the Fellowship has really been the dialogue.  The people I meet and the other artists I work with are so inspiring.

You can find out more about Will Deutsch on his artist page, where you can also commission him for a custom ketubah, or buy his Ahava (Love) ketubah.