Mizrach is almost finished


I sewed a tight zigzag or satin stitch around each appliqué piece. I don’t always do that. Lately I’ve been sewing a straight stitch on the edges. The latticework is stitched with one needle, by eye, without drawing it first. I don’t know why, but I hate drawing lines on fabric that need to be erased. I’m going to do some more quilting in the background, and it will be done.

I have a lot of freezer paper templates from previous work. I looked through them when I was ready to cut the inner windows. Here are a bunch of them. Of course none of them was the right size, so I had to cut a new one.


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WIP which is now a “mizrach,” rather than an amulet


My daughter suggested I use the periwinkle on top of the dark blue, for the upper “window.” What a good idea! I had to cut out a new periwinkle piece as the other one was the wrong size, and I ruined it by trying to shave off bits from each side. I’ve decided that this one won’t be an amulet, but will be a mizrach, instead. Here’s what I wrote about mizrachim (that’s the plural of mizrach), for a previous mizrach quilt.

What is a mizrach? (For those who don’t know):

The word mizrach means “east” in Hebrew, and indicates the direction of Jerusalem. When Jews pray, we generally face east, towards Jerusalem. The custom of having a mizrach developed after the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE). Diaspora Jews would leave a small portion of the eastern wall in their homes unfinished, with the bricks exposed. This served both to indicate the direction of Jerusalem and as way of mourning the destruction of the Temple. Over the years mizrachim evolved into a separate plaque, which was placed on the eastern wall, with the word “mizrach”, i.e. “east” on it.

Creating a mizrach is a wonderful opportunity for an artist, because it can portray any imagery. Also, mizrachim can be made out of any material, such as mosaic, beaded, wood, (fabric of course), or even water colors on paper. As long as a mizrach contains the word, mizrach, it’s “kosher.” I chose to depict middle eastern architecture, such as one might see in Jerusalem, because the essence of this custom is a longing for Jerusalem.



I wrote mizrach in Hebrew with a Micron pen. I practiced by writing it on the backing paper from the fusible web, which you can see in the first photo at the top of this post.


Here it is, all fused together. It’s 13″ x 13″ so that it can shrink during quilting, and still be 12″x 12.”


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Work in progress- 12 x 12 amulet

imageI’m working on a new 12″ x 12″ amulet, with fusible applique. I’m having trouble picking the color for the center top “window.” At first I thought the periwinkle below was the right color. Here I am cutting it out with my sharpest scissors. The white part is a template that I cut out of freezer paper. The fusible web is on the other side of the fabric.


After I cut it out, I looked at it in place, and didn’t like it.

imageThen I tried the pink on top of it, which I disliked so much that I didn’t take a photo of it. I cut out a darker blue one, as a border, which you see below. I’m still not happy with it. I think I’ll sleep on it, and see how I feel tomorrow.image

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Disappearing hourglass eight ways!


I took an EBHQ fabric marbling class on Monday. Above are three of the eighteen fabric pieces I dyed. I showed them at the East Bay Modern Quilters meeting on Tue. Stacey asked me what I was going to do with the fabric? I answered, ‘I have no idea’. Today I decided to use one for a 12 x 12 disappearing block for the 12 x 12 meeting next week. Here is  as an hourglass block.


I decided that black was the best color to contrast with the marbled fabric. Then I cut it into nine pieces, measuring the first cut 2 1/4″ from the center seam.



I discovered  eight different ways to rearrange the pieces. Below is #1.



# 2














Number 1 is the way I sewed it together. I have lots of time to quilt it before next Tuesday.

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Official hamsa class announcement!


Join Claire Sherman for a workshop on paper-cutting, fabric appliqué, and the folklore of hamsas. Sunday, April 23, 2:00 – 5:00 pm at the JCC East Bay, 1414 Walnut St, Berkeley, CA $36 Register at www.lehrhaus.org


A hamsa is a stylized hand for protection against the “evil eye,” frequently worn as jewelry. Made by both Jews and Muslims, hamsas are found all over the Middle East, but are older than either religion. Come learn about the folklore of hamsas and Jewish amulets, as we make them out of paper or fabric. (People of all religions, and atheists welcome). The basics of paper-cutting, a traditional Jewish folk art, will also be taught. Before Claire made appliqué quilts, she was an accomplished “paper cutter”. Learn paper cutting techniques to make stunning appliqués with fusible-web backed fabric. We will cut out our appliqués with scissors, and/or Exacto knives for accuracy, then iron them to a background. No artistic talent is required to make stunning hamsa designs. The finished paper-cut hamsa can be framed, to hang on the wall, and a fabric hamsa can become a wall hanging, challah cover, or part of a quilt.


Claire Sherman creates ceramic sculpture, quilts, and Jewish ritual objects out of clay, paper, and fabric. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, with a BFA in ceramics, she spent a year in Israel, where she learned about hamsas from other artists. She has taught art workshops in paper cutting, quilting, and Jewish ritual objects for adults and children throughout California. Visit her website at http://www.claireshermanart.com.

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Disappearing hourglass quilt


This is what I’ve been working on. It’s four disappearing hourglass blocks, sewn together. I picked this version of disappearing hourglass because it makes my favorite eight pointed star in the middle. I’ll quilt it to emphasize the star. It will also probably have borders that continue the diamonds in the corners.


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Disappearing pinwheel arrow!

imageHere’s my latest disappearing block. I found it in this YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFyLNGMEHrg.

First, I cut it into nine equal parts. Since it was 12.75″ each cut was 4.25″ wide.image

Then I rearranged the pieces and sewed it back together.


I really like this one. It seems like the possibilities for these block variations are infinite. Every time I think I’ve seen them all, another one appears.

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First Chanukah quilt

imageI’ve never made a Chanukah quilt, so this is my first. I started it on January 1, which was the last day of Chanukah. I used the same fabric as the previous quilt. Someone asked me if it was hand dyed fabric. No, it’s commercial, and I wish I’d bought more of it. It’s almost all gone now. This is a 12″ x 12.” So I actually  have two quilts to bring to the 12 x 12 meeting this month. Rather than zigzagging the edges, I sewed around the edge in one continuous line, as part of the quilting. I’m also really happy with the quilting around the flames. As for the rest of the quilting, I prefer the previous quilt.

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New hamsa

imageI made this one because my Tree of Life hamsa sold! The 12 x 12 show is still up at Bay Quilts http://Www.facebook.com/BayAreaQuilts/  until 12/28, but someone bought my hamsa, and now there’s a blank space where it used to be. I made this one to replace it. I’m happy that it sold, but the blank spot really bothered me. I wanted to finish it quickly, so I worked on it most of the day on Thursday, and finished it after midnight. I’m not sure how I feel about the colors. It’s certainly vibrantly colored, though.

I read that you can use two layers of acrylic felt as the batting in a small quilt. It’s especially useful if you’re going to hand embroider it. I had some bearding (the batting poked through), on some of my 12 x 12s when I embroidered them. I used the felt batting in this hamsa, but then I didn’t do any hand embroidery on it, just machine embroidery. I do like the stiffness of it though.

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This month’s as yet nameless 12 x 12

I’ve been working on a 12 x 12 for tomorrow.


I made a 12 x 12 frame out of paper to help me visualize where the edges will be. I decided it needed a dark contrast in the triangular hole at the upper right.


Then I sewed the pieces together.


Oops. The dark contrasting triangle is too big.


This is better.


I trimmed it to 13 x 13, because it will shrink when I quilt it. It looks kind of like an angry face to me.  I have no idea what to name this piece. If you have a suggestion, please leave me a comment.

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