Immediatly following the Purim season for us, we started to prepare for a fashion show for children, showcasing some of our best costumes.
This is Emili as Marie Antoinette, one of our most popular costumes for girls. The dress is made from embroidered taffeta and embellished with cream lace and gold trim. The dress utilizes an underskirt and it is cinched in the back for a maximum fit. I made the wig from wool; the base is felted and I made wool curls to put all over the wig. We recieved a special request for a Napoleon Bonaparte costume, that we feel stands up to our Marie Antoinette in beauty and historical accuracy.
This is the epaulette, something many “military guys” wear when they’re dressed up; this was the most important part of the costume for Tal.
I wanted to make a knight in shining armour because I’d never seen a costume like this before made in fabric and I think the ensemble is interesting.
What do you hope for? When I was younger, I hoped for things like a nice car, an artistic job, a higher salary, more vacation time and a little bit of a tan in the summer. Today, I hope for very different things, like a parking spot, a tiny garden space, health and happiness for my family and friends. I hope for the success of Doron and my businesses, for a wider variety of organic fruits and vegatables in the organic market where we shop. I hope for peace, even though I think this sounds like a very beauty pageant thing to say, living in Israel makes hoping for peace a daily thought.
Grafiti in Tel Aviv
When Lili was 6 or 7 years old, I was driving her to school and out of the blue she asked me what a bomb looked like. I told her I didn’t know exactly, but that I did know that we shouldn’t pick up bags, packages, toys or dolls that were left on the street or on a bench because there may be a bomb inside. I remind my three girls of this often.
Peace Doves, fresco in Sintra, Portugal
Emili was born in a hospital in Tel Aviv (do not get me started on that experience). A religious man walked into my room (without knocking) and handed me a box. Inside the box was a gas mask for babies, basically a big plastic bag looking aparatus with a breathing device connected to it. I think it was because the gulf war was going on that I recieved this thoughtful gift, I’m not sure if they give out baby gas masks on a regular basis. We picked up our masks for the two older girls from a distribution center. A mask for children looks like a space suit rather that a mask like you always see in the movies. Lili was 6 and in the first grade, Elli was 3; the night before the war started we all had to test our masks to be sure they worked. Elli was too little to test her mask , but we put Lili’s on her and that is an image I will never forget. Everyone had to travel around with their masks once the war started; they have a shoulder strap attached to them. All the school children decorated their mask boxes. You could see everyone heading off to school in the morning with their backpacks and a decorated gas mask box hanging off their shoulders.
A customer at my store told me that the little boys in her son’s class at school were playing suicide bomber. “What do you mean?” I asked her. I couln’t imagine children playing such a game. She told me that they wrap something around their wastes (a rope or belt ) and they pretend to blow up.
Tel Aviv graphiti
We moved to Israel nine years ago and the intifada started two weeks later. There were many buses that were blown up during that time (to this day I have never taken a bus here and I forbid the girls from doing so). The sobering fact is that most people here need to take buses to get to work. A bus blew up about a mile from the kindergarten where Lili was. You could tell that something bad had happened because all of a sudden, you could here radios everywhere. Every store, school and house, turned on the radio and you could feel a tenseness in the people on the street. I asked someone what was going on. “They blew up a bus on Allenby Street” a lady told me. I hurried to Lili’s school, people were yelling in the street and helicopters were buzzing all over the area, looking for the bomber. I started to breath very heavily and a sound came from my throat; I new I was starting to panic and I tried to calm myself. Once I was inside the kindergarten, many of the children were crying. I took Lili’s hand to take her home and a woman yelled at me that we couldn’t leave. I thought this must be procedure, staying put after a bombing till everything had calmed down, so I just stood there with Lili. An Israeli mother yelled back, ‘we’re leaving! and everyone pushed past the guard at the gate. I went too and we went home.
Emili holding Doron’s hand
My children attend a French school in our neighborhood. The pupils are from all over the world and speak many languages. There are Catholics, Protestants, Jews and a few Muslims (usually from Egypt) at the school. It gives me hope that my girls will understand people from many different places, that they will learn to be respectful and sensitive to other religions and cultures and races.
Sometimes I need inspiration to be creative; something to give me creative energy. My children inspire me, beauty and good deeds are also inspirational to me. Visually, I can look at a magazine or a book, go to the flea market (one of my favorites!), to an antique store or go browsing in a fabric shop. Fabric shops provide many textures and colors, this gives me many ideas, sometimes after seeing a certain color or seeing something in a certain light, an idea will jump into my head. Light is a big inspirational element for me. I find myself stopping in my tracks to contemplate an object lit in artistic light; I take photographs of these things whenever I have my camera with me.
I was so thrilled that Barak Obama was elected president, that I felted a puppet of him. This is an historic day, and I see that some of those around me don’t understand why. I see attitudes pertaining to race changing for the better in America and I feel that this is an important and progressive movement in the lives of the American people. I grew up in the Midwestern United States in the 1960’s and I’ve heard and seen the racial attitudes of many of my family and friends and I know we are now moving forward. Good luck, Mr. President!
Costumesare the most popular items in my store. People buy them for the dress-up holidays like Purim, Halloween, Carnival and Mardi Gras; they’re also great birthday presents. Some people have costume collections for their children, buying beautiful costumes and accessories when they find them. Costumes are educational “‘toys” that allow a child to use their imagination and to be someone else. Costumes and puppets are basic tools of the anthroposophic teaching ideology. I have many customers that send their children to anthroposophic kindergartens and schools; they invest a lot in costumes and in my felted puppets. They believe that the excellent quality of the items and the use of a child’s imagination in play makes these costumes and puppets valuable educational tools. But besides all this, they’re fun to play with!
My daughter Lili wore a tutu constantly from the age of 2 years till around 5 years old; my kids still dress up a lot and they’re 6,9 and 12. Their newest dress up game is Dance Idol.
(Below) Lili in the Degas ballerina dress
Here in Israel, the big dress-up holiday is Purim. Purim s a fun holiday for kids; the emphasis isn’t on scary costumes like in Halloween, but the kids dress up as everything else. The classic costumes are always popular: princesses, fairies, ballerinas,knights, Robin Hood, super heroes,mermaids and animals. We try to stay with the classic costumes in the store; we don’t make popular t.v. cartoon characters. We have been asked over and over again to make some cartoon characters that I consider classics. With this exception we’ve made Snow White, Batman and Superman. It is really rewarding to see the looks on the kids’ faces when they “turn into someone else or something else” while in costume. Sometimes the kids and even the parents are SO happy with their costumes that they call to thank me and send me photos of their kids. I put these pictures and e-mails in an album that I keep of my store. I would like to give one bit of advise: let your child choose his/her costume; don’t make him/her wear what YOU want him/her to be. I’m not talking about the child that wants a princess dress, but she already has a princess dress or it’s too small for the child etc. I’m talking about the girl who wanted to dress up as a dinosaur and her mother really wants her to be a princess or the child who doesn’t want a costume at all and the mother insists he should get a knight costume because it’s so cute. I see mothers buying what they want for their children and ignoring their crying children’s plies for a different costume on a regular basis. Many times I tell the mother, Ï think your child really wants the A, not the B costume and she ignores me too. I don’t see this problem with fathers who come into the store with their children. Fathers almost always tell their kids to choose what they want, with very few comments about their choices, except maybe, “let’s ask your mother.” Sometimes mothers come in looking for something that I think is inappropriate. One mother looked around and asked me, do you have anything sexy? For your child, I asked. I told her we don’t do sexy for kids. One other mother ordered a princess costume for her 5 year old girl. She was “designing” the costume as we were making it, she wanted breasts and hips added to the dress so the little girl would have curves like the pictures of Snow White. We dissuaded her from making this alteration. Another mother had us make the gladiator costume exactly as it appeared in the movie 300. The costume was a cape, helmet, spear and a leather diaper; the kid was basically half naked. She paid A LOT of money for that costume and her 6 year old son was so embarrassed to wear it. She insisted that he wear it and I felt so awful for him; I wished we hadn’t made it. It seems that these customers were using the costumes plus the children as show pieces for all those around them to gaze upon.