Cut wood Chuppah top becomes a keepsake for the couple’s home

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Shabbat plate with tealight cutout. (Amy Sternberg)

To further adorn the chuppah, a pair of artists, one from Michigan and the other from Tennessee, collaborated to add a new twist to the chuppah tradition by creating a wooden overhang to adorn the entrance to the canopy.

A the chuppah, or wedding canopy, is the focal point of a Jewish wedding ceremony. It symbolizes the first house that the couple will share. Biblically speaking, the chuppah, with its draped cloth open on all sides signaling hospitality to guests, also represents the tent that was the first Jewish dwelling of Abraham and Sarah.

To further adorn the chuppah, a pair of artists, one from Michigan and the other from Tennessee, collaborated to add a new twist to the chuppah tradition by creating a wooden overhang to adorn the entrance to the canopy. A unique souvenir gift bearing the Hebrew words Ani L’dodi, v’dodi Li (I am to my beloved and my beloved is mine), it can then be installed above the entrance of a door or a mantlepiece to serve as a reminder of the wedding day of the couple long after the wedding day is over.

Amy Sternberg of West Bloomfield and Shannon Brown of Chattanooga, Tenn, are the designers of the chuppah topper – as well as a range of colorful and whimsical wooden Judaica pieces. The artists met on Etsy, an online marketplace for creative artisans, and poured their creative energies into Judaic art for about two years.

With her sense of color and design, Sternberg customizes and hand paints gifts such as children’s furniture, desk accessories and sells them on her website, Artworks by Amy. A few years ago, she also started creating Judaica when her now-adult daughters and a rabbi in New Jersey asked her to design pieces like a Shabbat board with tealight cutouts.

Ani L'dodi v'Dodi Li (I am my beloved and my beloved is mine) wood cut chuppah/home decor.
Ani L’dodi v’Dodi Li (I am my beloved and my beloved is mine) wood cut chuppah/home decor. Amy Sternberg

“I always doodle; that’s how I relax,” Sternberg said. The self-taught self-taught artist has worked in publishing and her paint has found its way onto everything from handbags to clothing to home furnishings.

Sternberg discovered Brown’s website, Wood With Heart, which featured hand-carved and hand-painted creations like Lazy Susans, dressers, tables and home decor. Seeing how their talents would merge, she contacted Brown to see if she would carve and create her designs — including Hebrew letters and Jewish symbols, even though Brown was not Jewish.

Since she began creating burnt wood carvings with Sternberg, Brown said she has learned a lot about Jewish culture and symbolism with every chamsa and Jewish star she carves.

Four chamsa wood coasters
Four chamsa wood coasters Amy Sternberg

If they haven’t met yet, the artists have been creating Judaica for two years now. Brown has stated in her work that she has been approached with many different ideas and that she enjoys the possibilities of taking on new projects.

“Amy approached me to ask if I could make Jewish pieces,” said Brown, who has had her Etsy shop since 2009. “She sent me these wonderful ideas and designs and asked if I could make them. creating, and I said “absolutely.” Since then, I’ve really enjoyed creating these Judaica pieces, and I’ve enjoyed learning about Jewish symbols and traditions throughout my career as a sculptor and painter.

Sternberg said the orders are coming to her Etsy store. “My customers tell me they want to continue to shop small and support artists who are still creating and trying to keep their businesses open and running.”

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