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Interfaith art and crafts for religious purposes

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Bridal challah cloth finished [Oct. 25th, 2006|10:31 am]
Interfaith art and crafts for religious purposes


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For those who missed my earlier posts on the challah cloth, it was a wedding present for my best friend's sister. A challah cloth is used to cover the challah, the plaited bread eaten at the Shabbat (Sabbath) evening meal on Friday nights. The fabric is a golden-corn colour linen, embroidered in cotton with some metallic threads and a few seed beads, and the stitching is mostly chain stitch with feather stitch for the border and couching for the names on the tree. It took about six weeks to make.

The first detail shows the names of the bride and groom on the tree, Adam on the left and Deborah on the right. (I never did figure out which one was Adam at the wedding, having not met him before and never seeing him closer than forty feet away!) The tree is a pomegranate tree, pomegranates being frequently used in Jewish symbolism, so you've got tree-of-life ideas and fertility symbols, both very suitable for a bridal challah cloth.

The second detail shows part of the border, which was a Biblical quotation, Song of Songs 2: 10-13.

10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.

11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;

12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;

13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

King James translation, which is probably hopelessly inaccurate but damn it, it's pretty. A later quotation from v16 of the same chapter, My beloved is mine, and I am his, is frequently inscribed on the inside of Jewish wedding rings, so again it's all suitably bridal.

The third detail shows half of the "Shabbat shalom" written in big letters beneath the tree. This means "good Sabbath" or "peaceful Sabbath", and this phrase or something similar usually ends up on challah cloths. I used a lot more metallic thread for these two words, one strand of gold (the same gold used for the names) with two strands of brown. I'm glad I didn't do solid metallic, this was enough of a bugger to stitch as it was.

Thanks to everyone who gave me advice, particularly prezzey who helped me enormously by doing the printed text for me to trace, elfbystarlight for her usual sewing advice (including a novel way of tracing designs by putting a bright lightbox into a shoebox and balancing a quilting ruler on top), and mirrorshard for more crafts help.

cross-posted to my journal, ritual_art and jewishwomen.

[User Picture]From: purple_obsidian
2006-10-25 11:18 am (UTC)
Wow, That is unbelievable!
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[User Picture]From: butterflymama3
2006-10-25 12:51 pm (UTC)
that is beautiful. what a wonderful gift.
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[User Picture]From: napoleonofnerds
2006-10-25 04:18 pm (UTC)
That is absolutely stunning.

It reminds me of the annual project in my church to create an altar cloth for each year's first communions. It has some image and incorporates the names of the communicants and most of the people in the church who have any skill at all help out with it. One year they made a scene in Eden, with the tree in the middle and the animals around it. Instead of verses from scripture they had the names of the kids around the edge.

How big is that piece?
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[User Picture]From: elettaria
2006-10-26 10:47 am (UTC)
54 cm/21" square. The church project sounds lovely.
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[User Picture]From: sister_ananke
2006-10-25 10:09 pm (UTC)
That's the quote I used during my wedding ceremony! Bbeautiful isn't it?

Love the challah cloth, just beautiful.
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[User Picture]From: elettaria
2006-10-26 12:45 pm (UTC)
Really? How did you use it, and what sort of ceremony was it? You're a Christian, I believe?
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[User Picture]From: napoleonofnerds
2006-10-26 08:16 pm (UTC)
I don't know how she used it, but I know that it can be used in the Roman Catholic Marriage Rite
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[User Picture]From: sister_ananke
2006-10-27 08:37 am (UTC)
After the intial part of the ceremony (The Gathering of God's People) there's the ministry of the Word.


Song of Songs 2:11 - 12
See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land

We could have chosen anything from the bible, but I love that section (different translation obviously).

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[User Picture]From: paperkingdoms
2006-10-26 03:24 pm (UTC)
Very beautiful! It's a lovely gift.
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From: shawnari
2006-10-26 05:43 pm (UTC)
That is gorgeous. Thank you for explaining all the symbols.
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