For a while now I've been trying to figure out a way to standardize the way I make letters for my challah covers. In the past I've improvisationally pieced them like this one:
I love this design, but it's pretty much impossible to make two that are the same or even similar. That might be part of what makes them attractive, but it's also what makes them not the most cost effective item to make for my store. I want to be able to offer beautiful, handcrafted items, but the items can't be so labor intensive that they're not affordable for the customer. The alternative is to price them so I think they'll sell, but the price is such that I'm essentially working for nothing.
I don't know that I have the solution for every item I'd like to offer, but I think I've come up with the solution in this case.
First, I found a way to print the letters using Hebrew letter cookie cutters, potato stamps, and wax resist.
What's sort of amusing is that I have been trying to puzzle out how to use these cookie cutters for a while. I planned to press the cutters into potatoes, slice away the non-letter parts, dip the potato stamps in wax, and print. My problem was that the sharp end of the cutter yielded wrong reading letters. I really couldn't figure out how to get the letters to read in the right direction. And then it dawned on me that the fabric is the same on both sides. Unlike many commercial fabrics, there is not right or wrong side to a batik. Eureka! All I needed to do was use the opposite side of the fabric and I would instantly have right reading letters. By the way, this would apply to English letters as well. Can you see that the wheels are turning.
Anyway, with the letter quandary solved, the design really started to come together. I decided to combine the letters with the 2 1/2" patches of hand dyed fabric that I accumulate as I make fabric and voila:
I'm officially dubbing this design the Patches Challah Cover.
I've made a few for a Hanukkah Gift Bazaar I'm participating in this Sunday and I've already come up with a variation that uses shibori created symbols instead of letters. Anyway, after this weekend I'll definitely be adding these to my store. For those who live in Austin and would like to see them in person, they'll be at the Jewish Community Center on Hart Lane from 9-5 this Sunday.