Getting Your Art For The Holidays

Image shows a chibi Ariela under a pile of boxes and cardboard tubes saying "a little help, please..."

Image shows a chibi Ariela under a pile of boxes and cardboard tubes saying "a little help, please..."

Thanksgiving is a week away, which means that the $_WINTERHOLIDAY shopping season will soon begin in earnest.* As such, we wish to make you aware of the purchasing deadlines we will be using to make sure that you (or the recipients) receive your purchases in time to celebrate. 

As per our FAQ, we generally ship USPS First Class. That requires the item be mailed by December 19th to guarantee delivery for December 24th. In order to give Ariela adequate processing time, we will require the orders to be placed by December 14th to make sure that there is enough time to get things printed, matted and shipped to you.

If you were looking for the perfect חנוכה gift from us, that needs to be ordered by December 6th to ensure arrival by December 12th. And may we suggest the Police Box Mizrach?

No matter what holiday you celebrate, our newest greeting card makes the perfect accompaniment to any gift. Be sure to pick one (or a pack) up with any order you place in the next two months.

 

 

 

*Despite Michael's best efforts to declare otherwise, the $_WINTERHOLIDAY season does not start until the day after Thanksgiving. At least not in our establishment.

New Greeting Card: Spoon Dragon $_WINTERHOLIDAY Card

Are you worried about picking an appropriate English spelling for חנוכה? Want to make a point in the "Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays" culture wars? Then we've got the card for you.

GC-201705-WinterHolidayCard_wenvelope.png

How It Came to Be:

As 2016 wrapped up, Ariela knew that November of 2017 would involve a significant amount of work at her day job. So we looked for some products we could release that would involve minimal effort on her part. Greeting cards tend to be the sort of things that can give Ariela a break from her day job, without taking a lot of time to finish and post-produce. Terri proposed the idea of an Global Winter Holiday Season card, using the "$_" variable. Ariela thought that Spoon Dragon was a great character to feature on the card, with winter gear. 

While looking for image references for Spoon Dragon's scarf, Ariela accidentally stumbled into one of the more intense intersections of the Fandom and Knitters Venn Diagram. While years of friendship with Terri made her peripherally aware of the fact that fandom knitters are a dedicated bunch of detail-oriented people obsessed with accurate reproduction, she still wasn't prepared for what she found there. Debates about patterns and yarn choice were expected, but essays on the relative ease of matching paint vs fabric to Pantone swatches and the differences between studio lighting, photoshoot lighting, and daylight were a tad overwhelming for a casual visitor to this subfandom.

The card shows Spoon Dragon holding a snowball, with large fuzzy blue earmuffs and a Very Long Striped Scarf. The outside text reads: "Happy $_WINTERHOLIDAY!!" The inside is available either with no text or with the following: "May your season be joyous and not eat your spoons."

As with all our cards, it is available singly for $4 each or in packs. In addition to our usual pack of 6 cards for $20, this one is also available in a pack of 10 cards for $30. 

One Artist's Tips for Taking Care of Your Hands in Cold Weather

by Ariela

Chicago seems to have jumped straight from summer to winter, skipping most of fall entirely. Bloody Hands Season is upon us, so here are some of my strategies for taking care of the appendages that let me make art.

Mostly, it boils down to two things:

  1. Don't let your hands stiffen up; and
  2. Moisturize.

Cold hands get stiff and restricted movement interferes with line quality. Dry skin gets paper cuts more easily, in addition to peeling and cracking on its own, hence these steps. This can be harder than it sounds when your office is very cold. In addition to being uncomfortable and distracting, cold makes moisturizer absorb more slowly, even into thirsty skin. Moisturizer residue on hands + paper = sadness. I also have poor circulation in my hands (thanks, genetics!), so my hands get cold and cramp up very easily, even if I am wearing lots of layers on the rest of my body. Doing calligraphy in gloves isn't a practical option, so I have developed some other strategies for coping.

My ink-stained fingers wrapped around a mug with a tea strainer sticking out. 

My ink-stained fingers wrapped around a mug with a tea strainer sticking out. 

Before I get started on art each day, this is what I do:

  1. Apply a heavy-duty moisturizer all over my hands.
  2. Don rubber gloves and wash dishes in HOT water.
    The motion and the heat help limber up my hands, and the heat also helps the moisturizer absorb into my skin more quickly and thoroughly. Also, this gets the dishes done.
  3. Make a hot beverage in a mug. The mug is important.
  4. Start calligraphy. At the end of every line, put down the pen, wrap both hands around the mug of hot beverage and take a good sip.
    Drinking something hot warms me up, but the key point here is the hand motion. Unlocking my fingers from around the pen stretches them, wrapping them around the mug heats them.
  5. Reheat and refill beverage as necessary.
Fingerless mitts designed and knit by Terri. Nine years of hard use and still going strong.

Fingerless mitts designed and knit by Terri. Nine years of hard use and still going strong.

When I am working just in pencil, I can wear fingerless mittens, like this pretty purple pair that Terri made for me back in 2008. When I work with ink, though, mittens are a no-go. All it takes is a drop of ink on them, then when I put my hand back to the art it will soak right through my guard sheet and the entire piece is ruined. (A guard sheet is a piece of paper I put on top of the art so that my hand, with its sweat and oils, will not rest directly on the art.)

Hand Stretches

Stretching your hand and arm muscles is something to do year-round, not just when it gets cold, but it's extra important when it's cold and also more difficult - stretching in the cold is more likely to lead to injury. So I try to put on my mittens when I do my stretches, and I try to do some extras when I am in the shower and know that I am adequately warm.

If you don't already have a series of hand stretches you like, these are some good ones to start with.

 

Take care of your hands and happy cold weather!

FiberCon!

by Terri

A week ago, thanks to the generosity of a friend, I got to go to the New York Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck, NY for the first time.  Typically referred to as "Rhinebeck" by fiber artists, this is one of the biggest festivals of its kind in America. 

Three sheep (2 with white wool, one with grey) with numbers on their butts. The sheep have recently had haircuts, and their fleeces were likely for sale at the show.

Three sheep (2 with white wool, one with grey) with numbers on their butts. The sheep have recently had haircuts, and their fleeces were likely for sale at the show.

Maple cotton candy in bags hanging from a clothesline. It really looks like undyed wool for spinning. Watching people eat it is slightly disconcerting. It is delicious.

Maple cotton candy in bags hanging from a clothesline. It really looks like undyed wool for spinning. Watching people eat it is slightly disconcerting. It is delicious.

As the title of this blog post suggests, Rhinebeck (and other large sheep and wool festivals) is basically FiberCon, though weighted much heavier towards the Dealer's Room and Art Show and very light on the panels.* There are show presentations of sheep, goats and alpacas; and live demonstrations of sheepdogs herding sheep. Typically there is at least one Sheep to Shawl competition. There are tons of food vendors, people selling jewelry, clothing, edible roving (otherwise known as maple cotton candy), and all sorts of tools for fiber artists. 

But the main attraction is the yarn. Barns and barns crammed full of yarn and spinning fiber in every color of the rainbow (and a few colors that the rainbow wishes it could come in). I wish I'd taken pictures, but I was too busy staring at all the pretty. 

In some ways the festival was overwhelming. Even if I'd had an unlimited budget (I didn't) and the ability to carry anything I wanted to buy without getting tired (didn't have that either), I would still not have gotten everything I could have wanted. There was honestly too much to see and squish. (Given that we sell a card telling you that you don't have enough yarn, I know that can be hard to believe). I did blow through my budget twice (my friend is a wonderful, though expensive, enabler) and got some yarn that I never otherwise would have seen. I have plans for most of it, and may feature some if it here on the blog when it's finished.

The haul:

So much yarn in all the colors. 

So much yarn in all the colors. 

Clockwise for the top left: A Gale’s Art gradient set in Wild Berries on their MYS 622 base (Superwash merino, yak, & silk), an Indigo Dragonfly Trimorphs Gradient set in Gothic Unicorn on the CaribouBaa base (100% superwash merino) with a set of 8 purple buttons from Jennie the Potter, a tin of lavender and mint solid lotion from Heal My Hands, a Gale’s Art Sparkle Sock Blank in Rockstar Rainbow, a skein of Miss Babs Yowza in Iolite, the Dragonfly Fibers Rhinebeck exclusive colorway on the Damsel base, and skein of Harvest Yarns Minty Mix from Sweitzer’s Fiber Mill (no colorway given, it’s a sort of purple grey. The base is 80% merino, 20% mint fiber).

All in all, a lovely way to spend a fall Sunday. I'm looking forward to coming back next year.

 

 

*And unless you count the fabulous haircuts** on some of the llamas and alpacas, no Masquerade to speak of.

**Example of a camelid with a fabulous haircut:

Cream camelid with brown spots with a poodle-style haircut.

Cream camelid with brown spots with a poodle-style haircut.

Book Review: Steal Like an Artist

by Ariela

Periodically I like to read advice for artists and other creative type people. Even though I have been working as an artist for 14 years (good grief!), I'm always looking for more inspiration. If anything, the longer I go on with this, the more important it is to have a good process to prevent burnout. Since I have been doing this a while and have a pretty functional workflow, the percentage of new advice I find that I want to try is fairly low, but sometimes it's good just to be affirmed in the things I already do; sometimes it is also good to affirm what you do in the face of contrary advice.

Cover of the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Cover of the book Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

I recently read Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon. It is a very short read, and on the whole I liked it.

My Favorite Advice from Kleon

Kleon presented a couple of ideas in ways that worked extraordinarily well for me. Sometimes it's not about finding something new, but looking at something you already knew in a different way. The two that stood out for me here were his titular "Steal Like an Artist" section and his section on hobbies and side projects.

While the lines "nothing is new" and "take inspiration from everywhere" are hackneyed, but the particular collection of quotes about them that Kleon collected is funny and evocative and makes it seem, if not fresh, at least reminds me of the truth of it. I particularly liked the André Gide quote of "Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But, since no one was listening, everything must be said again." 

I was also somewhat surprised to see Kleon refer to taking pictures of things that you want to "steal" as keeping a "swipe file" or "morgue file." I take pictures of things that I find inspiring and want to use in my own art all the time; I just called it my "reference pictures." What I call my morgue file is the file I keep for my day job of...ideas I think are good that I want to emulate. Son of a gun, they are the same thing. How about that.

The other rephrasing that really spoke to me was his talk about not giving up your other hobbies and passions. Kleon wrote about focusing on writing to the exclusion of his music as "phantom limb pain." Oh yeah, did that ever resonate. I don't get to sew or do woodworking nearly as much as I used to, because between my day job, my calligraphy, and my safrut, I just don't have any time. But periodically the hankering to do them builds up into a compulsion that simply has to be answered before I burst. When I don't get to exercise my creativity in lots of ways, it hurts. Less urgently, I have been on a kick of listening to audiobooks for about the past year, whenever I was doing chores or working, or whatnot, and I basically stopped listening to music. I didn't realize how much I was missing it until I started watching the first season of "Legend of Korra" and downloaded the soundtrack. Wow.

The one really new thing I got from the book wasn't actually new, it was just something I never realized anyone else did. Kleon recommends keeping a "praise file" of nice things people say about your work that you can revisit when you are stuck in the creative doldrums. I have certain emails and even old Twitter exchanges that I like to go back and look at when I need a boost, but I always thought that was a self-involved indulgence of mine that no one else would ever do. Turns out the only self-involved part was thinking that I was the only one doing it.

What Didn't Work

As with all advice books, this one didn't hit all the right notes for me. That's okay. Not all advice will work for everyone because everyone's process is different. I'm not here to bash different methods, but there were a few things that Kleon said (or didn't say) that could be potentially harmful.

Kleon quotes his mother as saying "Garbage in, garbage out," and then expands this to say that you should surround yourself with great people and follow the best people possible online, pay attention to what they are talking about. With that in mind, it is rather appalling that in a book chock full of quotes, only four women besides his mother are quoted; one of the remaining four is his wife. Only one of the special black quote boxes features a woman. I have to wonder about Kleon's definition of "the best people" if it contains so few women worth quoting. So I would further expand his advice about following the best people online and say that it is imperative to follow people who are very different from you, in background, in method, and in fields. You will learn more that way, and your creative life will be richer for it.

The section called "Use Your Hands" also got my hackles up. It is an exhortation to return to analog methods. Normally I am all for praise of physical media; as someone who writes with a quill on parchment, I'm clearly a fan of the old school. But Kleon's framing bothers me intensely because he implies that working purely digitally is bad for the creative process. It may very well be bad for his creative process, and good for him that he has identified this and made it part of his workflow to use analog methods. But generalizing from "this works for me" to "this is the best way to Art" makes me angry. Yes, by all means try some natural media if you primarily work digitally. Try a new medium, or go back to one you haven't worked with in a while. I believe that the artistic process is fundamentally different in natural media than in digital, but I also recognize that people are wired differently. Don't eschew physical media out of habit, but if you try it and hate it keep coming back to this miserable exercise because someone wrote a book or an article online saying that this is The One True Way of Art, just no. Eff that noise. Try new things, stretch your creative muscles in new and different ways, but don't let anyone else tell you what you must and mustn't do to be an Artist. (Jen Bartel had a magnificent Twitter rant on this in response to the originator of Inktober saying something similar.)

I'm also kinda bothered by his placement of his advice about marrying well in the same section where he talks about keeping a logbook and taking care of yourself. I felt that it would have worked better in his section about surrounding yourself with interesting, awesome, and supportive people, because if you are a creative and you're married, ideally your spouse is all of these things in spades. Framing it that way would have placed a spouse as captain of Team You; as it is, it comes off as a lifestyle recommendation, and I'm bothered by people pushing marriage. Yeah, I'm married, but again, people are wired differently and I am uncomfortable with prescribing major life decisions for other people. Also, much of what he said about spouses would apply equally to roommates, so why is it about Marrying Well? Why not "Choose Cohabitors with Care?" I admit, this might be overpicky on my part.

On the whole I don't think this book was a waste of time, and considering my experience with a lot of other advice books for artists, that's actually pretty high praise. Not all of his advice will apply to everyone, but for me the parts that worked outweighed those that didn't.

Yes, I would recommend it.

You can visit Austin Kleon online here.

New Greeting Card: Pardon My Depression

Normally this is the space for pithy copy and quips. This card, while inspired by what may have been a joke, is entirely serious. Sometimes you need to tell your friends why you've been hiding from the world. We hope that this card may help you.

GC-201704-Depression_outside.png

How It Came To Be:

Normally every time Twitter "updates" their app, it adds a feature no one wanted or needed. Every now and again, however, those "features" can combine to produce something useful. In this case, Twitter's "helpful" new feature actually did its job and resulted in Terri seeing the following:

Tweet reads: "is there a greeting card for "sorry i isolated myself for a month, i was having a depressive episode, and it'll definitely happen again"". Apparently a number of people whom Terri follows had liked this tweet. She replied "Not yet, but we at @GeekCalligraphy might have to think about it." Since Ariela also thought it was a good idea, we went forward. 

The card shows Spoon Dragon hiding under a blanket, all of their spoons lying on the floor. Some of them are bent or broken. The outside text reads: "Sorry about my absence of late. I've been having an overwhelming depressive episode. And it's likely to happen again." The inside is available either with no text or with the following: "It's no reflection on you. I've missed you and value your friendship so much. Thank you for bearing with me."

As with all our cards, it is available singly for $4 or in packs. Unlike many of our other cards, we are selling this card in packs of 6 cards for $20 and 10 cards for $30. 

We hope that this card helps you take care of yourself and keep lines of communication open when you find that the world is too overwhelming.

We're Back!

Tishrei, aka The Jewish Month With Far Too Many Holidays, ends at the end of this week. Saturday is the start of Cheshvan, aka The Jewish Month With No Holidays and We Love It For That.

We have 16 Artist Proofs left of our Cheshvan special product from last year, as well as the original for sale. It makes a lovely gift for clergy who have just completed the most grueling month of their professional lives.

Mishenichnas Marcheshvan Artist's Proof
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Signing Off For Tishrei

by Terri

Image shows chibi Ariela with swirly eyes under a large weight with 'Jewish Holiday Calendar' written on the side together with a calendar showing many days blocked off.

Image shows chibi Ariela with swirly eyes under a large weight with 'Jewish Holiday Calendar' written on the side together with a calendar showing many days blocked off.

Wednesday night begins the cycle of fall Jewish Holidays that we blogged about in our post "Tishrei Is Coming." Both Ariela and I are observant of the restrictions imposed by these holidays, which means that regular blogging and frankly much work becomes difficult over the next four weeks.

So while you may see Tweets and the occasional Facebook post when we feel something needs to be shared, this blog is going to be quiet. While we will be taking orders for prints and greeting cards, they may be slower to ship than usual. We probably* will not be taking ketubah orders for the next few weeks. 

If you are observant of these holidays, we hope that you have a joyous and meaningful holiday season and a good & sweet new year.

.תחיו ותזכו ותעריכו ימים. חג שמח, ושנה טובה ומטוקה

 

 

 

 

*Obviously emergency ketubah situations do happen and we will make our best effort (with applicable rush charges) to meet your needs in that case.

New Judaica Product: Steampunk Pomegranates

Looking for something that seamlessly blends classic Judaic imagery with outstanding steampunk art? Perhaps something seasonally appropriate? Look no further than this print!

Normally we wouldn't be releasing a product this early in the month, but next Wednesday is the day before Rosh HaShana. At that point, we will be taking our usual 4 week break for the fall Jewish holidays.

J-201702E-SPPomegrantes.png
J-201702-SPPomegranates.png

how it came to Be:

For some reason, Ariela seems to like doing religious steampunk art, even she is not sure why. Maybe it's the result of working for an art nouveau ketubah artist for several years. 

While staring at a wall hanging of some rather poorly embroidered pomegranates in synagogue, it occurred to her to depict a pomegranate full of gears instead of seeds. All it needed was a textual tie-in, because we are a calligraphy outfit, and we don't generally put out art without text.*

Ariela thought of one of her favorite pieces in the Yom Kippur liturgy, a piyyut** known by its first line, Ki Hinei KaChomer. This poem refers to God in a variety of creative and skilled roles, rhyming virtues of God with the destructive aspect of each role. Below is the full English*** and Hebrew text of that poem:

Like clay in the potter’s hands –
Expanded or contracted at will –
So are we in Your hand, Guardian of loving-kindness;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like a stone in the stonecutter’s hands –
Held fast or smashed at will –
So are we in Your hand, Source of life and death;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like an axe-head in the blacksmith’s hands –
Held to the flame or distanced from it at will –
So are we in Your hand, Supporter of the poor and destitute;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like the helm in the sea captain’s hands –
Held fast or released at will –
So are we in Your hand, beneficent and forgiving God
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like glass in the glassblower’s hands –
Shaped or dissolved at will –
So are we in Your hand, Forgiver of willful and inadvertent sins;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like cloth in the weaver’s hands –
Straightened or twisted at will –
So are we in Your hand, jealous and avenging God;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like silver in the silversmith’s hands –
Adulterated or purified at will –
So are we in Your hand, Provider of healing to the sick;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיּוֹצֵר
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מַרְחִיב וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְקַצֵּר
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ חֶסֶד נוֹצֵר
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כָּאֶבֶן בְּיַד הַמְסַתֵּת
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ אוֹחֵז וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְכַתֵּת
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ מְחַיֶּה וּמְמוֹתֵת
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּגַּרְזֶן בְּיַד הֶחָרָשׁ
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ דִּבֵּק לָאוּר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ פֵּרַשׁ
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ תּוֹמֵךְ עָנִי וָרָשׁ
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּהֶגֶה בְּיַד הַמַּלָּח
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ אוֹחֵז וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ שִׁלַּח
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ אֵל טוֹב וְסַלָּח
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כִּזְכוּכִית בְּיַד הַמְזַגֵּג
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ חוֹגֵג וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְמוֹגֵג
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ מַעֲבִיר זָדוֹן וְשֶׁגֶג
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּיְרִיעָה בְּיַד הַרוֹקֵם
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מְיַשֵּׁר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְעַקֵּם
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ אֵל קַנֹּא וְנוֹקֵם
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כּי הִנֵּה כַּכֶּֽסֶף בְּיַד הַצּוֹרֵף
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מְסַגְסֵג וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְצָרֵף
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְּיָדְךָ מַמְצִיא לְמָזוֹר תֶּֽרֶף
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

 

For obvious reasons, this poem has always resonated with Ariela as an artist. The stanza of the poem that she felt fit this image best is the third one, which references a blacksmith shaping an iron axe-head. Steampunk, after all, is full of iron. So the Hebrew version of this print has the lines "כִּי הִנֵּה כַּגַּרְזֶן בְּיַד הֶחָרָשׁ / בִּרְצוֹתוֹ דִּבֵּק לָאוּר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ פֵּרַשׁ / כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ" and the English version has "Like iron in the hand of the metalworker, / Who welds or separates at will; / So, are we in your hands, O Lord." The English has been modified somewhat from the standard translations to be more appropriate for the setting.

The Hebrew font was picked by surveys on Twitter and Facebook, with a confirmation that the choice was a good when when Ariela saw it in some older printed books. The English is a nice older typeface. Both texts are intentionally aged and distressed. 

Steampunk Pomegranates in both English and Hebrew are available in an 8"x10" matted print, for $30.

 

 

*Sometimes the art is only text, but hey, calligraphy outfit

**Medieval liturgical poem

***Translation comes courtesy of the Koren Yom Kippur Machzor

Why You Shouldn't Wear Tefillin with Wet Hair

By Terri

As part of her scribal apprenticeship, Ariela is learning how to repair tefillin. The only English word that exists for these ritual objects is phylacteries. And you guessed it, that's not English!* Jews are commanded to bind certain words of the Torah "on their arms and between their eyes." The traditional** way to fulfill this commandment is to write the specific words on teeny tiny parchments and put them into square rawhide boxes, which are then attached to leather straps. The straps are how the words are bound to one's arm and between one's eyes.*** And when I say square, it really means square. We make every edge flat and every corner a 90 degree angle. 

Rawhide being shaped into tefillin.  [Image shows large sheets of ivory colored rawhide with vague and then more precise box shaped protrusions in one end. In the front are unpainted tefillin boxes]

Rawhide being shaped into tefillin.  [Image shows large sheets of ivory colored rawhide with vague and then more precise box shaped protrusions in one end. In the front are unpainted tefillin boxes]

How do you transform rawhide into neat square boxes? You wet it and either mold it over a wooden block in the correct shape, or you put it into a special metal press which squishes the soaked rawhide into the correct shape. Tefillin are worn during morning prayer.**** If you're running late, that sometimes means that your hair doesn't have time to dry properly between getting out of the shower and donning your tefillin. What do you think happens when that same shaped rawhide is put on wet hair?

 

 

 

An example of healthy tefillin. [Image shows a very angular black tefilah***** for the arm. It is comprised of a cube on top of a stitched regtangular base, with black leather straps running through it.]

An example of healthy tefillin. [Image shows a very angular black tefilah***** for the arm. It is comprised of a cube on top of a stitched regtangular base, with black leather straps running through it.]

And so we present the visual essay of why leather boxes on wet hair is a supremely bad idea. 

Upright side view of a damaged tefilah shel rosh (the one for the head). The black paint is worn away in many places and the bottom is no longer flat - though it is resting on a cutting mat, the bottom layer of the base is actually curled.

Upright side view of a damaged tefilah shel rosh (the one for the head). The black paint is worn away in many places and the bottom is no longer flat - though it is resting on a cutting mat, the bottom layer of the base is actually curled.

Upside down front view of the same tefilah shel rosh. The bottom is so warped that it is almost entirely convex. In addition, much of the black paint is worn away.

Upside down front view of the same tefilah shel rosh. The bottom is so warped that it is almost entirely convex. In addition, much of the black paint is worn away.

These are sad tefillin. Please don't wear your tefillin on wet hair and makes yours sad like them. It won't happen instantly, but it will happen over time.

The good news is that this sort of problem can be fixed! You can take them to a scribe, or some other person who knows about both leatherworking and the laws of tefillin and they can re-mold them. However, this is not an excuse to be lax about drying your hair.

This is the same tefilah shel rosh pictured above after Ariela finished its rehab job.

Side view of the upright repaired tefilah shel rosh. The straps have been replaced and are now shiny, all of the tefilah is properly black, and the bottom is now resting flat on the cutting mat.

Side view of the upright repaired tefilah shel rosh. The straps have been replaced and are now shiny, all of the tefilah is properly black, and the bottom is now resting flat on the cutting mat.

Overhead view of the upside down repaired tefilah shel rosh. The bottom is now entirely flat, and the stitching holding the entire object together has been replaced.

Overhead view of the upside down repaired tefilah shel rosh. The bottom is now entirely flat, and the stitching holding the entire object together has been replaced.

 

*Though it pleases me to refer to a large workshop for making tefillin as a "phylactery factory." 

**The tradition in question is the rabbinic tradition.

***"Between your eyes" doesn't actually mean what it sounds like. The tefillin worn on the head are centered between the eyes, but the bottom edge should be flush with the hairline (or the original location of the hairline, if it has receded).

****Mostly. Tefillin are mostly worn during morning prayer. There are exceptions.

*****Tefilah is the singular of tefillin.