I began my professional career as a Hebrew calligrapher. Asked by close friends to design and calligraph their Tanayim (an engagement contract between the betrothed as proscribed by Jewish Law) I taught myself the basics of watercolor and botanical illustration setting to work on my first ever commission. The Hebrew calligraphy came naturally; I had been practicing for years with a calligraphy set my great aunt Octavine gifted to me on my eleventh birthday. Calligraphy was easy and fun, albeit rather un-hip and definitely "old lady;" but illustration was more difficult and my perfectionist tendencies made for quite an exercise in tedium.
Following the wedding, word of mouth spread and over the years I have calligraphed and designed numerous Ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts). Adorning a Ketubah has recently made a resurgence among couples wishing maintain tradition and create a beautiful and meaningful objet d'art.
The illustration of a Ketubah tends to take me away from my French Art Deco leanings. Using watercolor, I seek to create a fanciful world for the bride and groom. Botanical illustration, biblical flora and fauna, and calligraphic adornment and various other classic motifs lend themselves best.
The Hebrew calligraphy is the final addition to the Ketubah. This is the most stressful aspect. It is very difficult to erase or cover up any mistake; and because it is on the final piece of art, the whole thing could be lost in one fell swoop. I have tried executing the calligraphy first but this is difficult as the Hebrew calligraphy has to fit organically into the image rather than the reverse.
Over the years I have had the honor to illustrate and or calligraph many Ketubot. Designing and producing a Ketubah is a labor of love indeed but brings immense satisfaction and pride.