With a friendly, patient approach, I am here to answer your questions and guide you through the process of creating a personal keepsake of your wedding, whether traditionalsecularsame sexor interfaith, all faiths are welcome!

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FEBRUARY 2018
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Friday, January 12, 2018

custom | Stargazing

starry night papercut for Jewish wedding
Josh & Elana reached out to me after they saw the Where We First Met ketubah and other designs I've created, because they liked how I incorporate nature into my work. The two are childhood sweethearts who met at Jewish camp and spent their summers there growing up and falling in love. Yes, just like in a romance movie! They wanted a ketubah that, in their own words, "makes us remember the qualities of camp that we loved and have held a special place in our hearts.They actually had their ketubah all sketched out (a lakeshore at sunset), which made me worry my interpretation would only disappoint. Instead they proved very open to new ideas as long as they captured those ilusive feelings, hopes and dreams that they shared "the first night we spent together star gazing in the grass on the softball field - looking through the trees at the stars."

Once I read those words I could not get them out of my head! That goal of capturing memories, feelings and qualities dear to them -  is something I strive for with all my clients. And the picture they painted in my mind with their words was so lovely, I had to get it out on paper!
studio shot of in progress papercut ketubah Stargazing
Custom designed and cut by Naomi Shiek, 16X16 inches big ketubah for Jewish wedding
papercut ketubah detail shot of starry night design by Naomi Shiek. Papercut tree and stars
For more photos of this ketubah 
GO HERE
For more photos of other custom orders
GO HERE 
To Order Your Own 
C U S T O M   P A P E R C U T   K E T U B AH
Contact me HERE for consultation
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Friday, January 5, 2018

in the studio | what I do every day

In honor of the new year - Welcome 2018! - I thought I should share with you a day (or so) in my studio, wherein I prepare a ketubah from start to finish. I've made an effort lately to document more of my work day, which involves imploring visitors to take a picture or setting up a finicky tripod with a delay trigger... My gosh, I sound technically challenged. But my work is solitary, so them's the breaks. The photos are from different orders but together they give a complete picture of the process. Follow me on the journey to make the bestseller MOON & FLOWERS ketubah.

papercutting in the studio
In this current studio setup I have two work stations: a tall chest of paper drawers and a sit/stand workbench. For those of you who are interested (I know I always am!) the drawers are not store-bought. I had them made to my specific design by a local carpenter after I was obsessed by vintage flat file/map cabinets for over a year. I was stalking furniture sites and kept a photo folder on my desktop, that's how obsessed I was. There's a great saga about how these drawers came to be and moved several studios with me (even a war wound or two), but probably only interesting to me and my family. You don't have a full view of the desk here (which lowers and raises with the use of a crank) but it is also handmade, a DIY masterpiece by my talented sister.

Back to the art: I start every order at my papers station. I have a favorite paper I use and I have it cut and stored in full sheet-half sheet-quarter sheet. I used to stock only Fabriano Accademia, but after a bad experience with my last order (read more here) I changed to Canson stock. Like anyone I have my habits and favorites and sadly it took a big shakeup to have me try new papers, but I started out papercutting by trying many different paper mills, collections, and weights until I found the one most suited to me - and I encourage all new papercutters to do the same. My paper drawers are filled with different papers, most I still use today for different papercuts.

Once I have my paper cut to size and fitted over the design template, I move over to my workbench because that's where my iMac sits and I can't work in silence. I sit (or stand - the table rises!) and papercut while watching movies or listening to audiobooks. (I need more audiobooks.) I wrote about my YouTube work playlist here, if you want to go down that particular internet rabbit hole.
papercutting step 1
When I started I used to trace my designs onto paper on a window or using wonky light box a janitor at uni DIY'd for me. Both options got really hot, it was always a painful position, and I kinda miss it, but I've since invested in gorgeous light pads that are like magic (read more about my tools here). Tracing takes several hours because I'm slow like that. Wondering how slow I go? check out the video above.
papercut template finished steps to papercutting
Once tracing is done I move on to cutting. Looking at all the photos now the progression of time is very obvious. I started in a bright sun-filled room and worked through to the next morning. Cutting at night is like sleeping sometimes, because you get in a trance and your mind rests. I find I'm much more ...productive, when it's the dead of night and only I and the wild foxes howling outside are awake. This is a classic case of do as I say not as I do though, you should definitely manage your time better than I do mine and go to sleep.  
papercutting ketubah
studio shot papercutting "woodland papercuts"The two most important accessories for a papercutter are a good self-healing mat and a bright lamp. I still haven't found my perfect cutting mat (there seems to be only one brand stocked in the entirety of Israel), but I use what I have until they're in tatters, flipping them upside down and reverse side up until all surfaces are roughed up. Honestly, I almost don't want to throw them away when I'm done with them because they're like memory-catchers to me. They last for years each, so they do good.

I don't remember why I first thought of getting a magnifying lamp - I think I got the idea after seeing magnifying glasses in a cross-stitching magazine - but it has truly filled a need I didn't even know I had until I first used the lamp. For those interested, the lamp is mounted to the desk like an architect lamp but also has a mobile stand you can purchase separately. You an find these lamps at professional beauty supply stores, they're for beauticians. I've had mine for 6 years now I believe and it gives the perfect light, it doesn't heat up, and the magnifying glass has saved my eyesight. 

Naomi Shiek papercutting papercut ketubah Moon & FlowersAs you can see I like to marathon my papercutting. I measure the passage of time by what's playing on the iMac. (I think I played all four Lethal Weapon movies when I cut this one.) Every papercutter has a method to their madness, where they start cutting and how they continue until it's done. I think photos of the papercut "emerging" from the blankness of the paper are the most beautiful on my instagram feed. I've said it before and I'll say it again, to me seeing any art in progress is like watching magic unfold. I always start by cutting the straight lines all around the border, then I pick a bottom corner and work my way around. 

With nearly all my ketubot I make the text a separate layer from the design. I used to insist on cutting the ketubah from a single layer and that's how I started, but once I introduced color to my options I found that separate layers add interest while also streamlining the process (no need to wait for the clients to approve the text before cutting, no panic when they want to change the text after I already cut the ketubah). The Moon & Flowers ketubah has a unique text layer that needs to be papercut as well, which is an interesting challenge every time. For the order pictured below the clients selected a light-color-paper for the text layer, so I used the lightpad to make sure I didn't overlap the text and kept it levelled and centered when I drew the moon on the reverse. After cutting I centered the moon in the layout and marked where the two layers overlapped and I needed to cut the excess. At 3AM the glow was mesmerizing. 
in the studio papercut ketubah Moon & Flowers in progress

By morning this incarnation of the Moon & Flowers ketubah came together: Paired with hand-painted silver background, this pale beauty shone bright with a tranquil air about it. In contrast, the next papercut incarnation pictured below has a deeper color scheme giving it a 'moodier' vibe. Which would you choose?
papercut ketubah Moon & Flowers in the studiomoon & flowers papercut ketubah
Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah by Woodland Papercuts
Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah by Woodland Papercuts
Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah by Woodland Papercuts
I'm actually surprised by how much a papercut changes with the colors the clients choose. That's why I love what I do - every ketubah is a reflection of the couple who commission it, and the bespoke nature of the handmade makes every order personal and unique. Take for example this vibrant incarnation I made for Sam & Jason that was customized with the couple's wedding crest. The photos of it are some of my favorite I took last year!
Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah by Woodland Papercuts
Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah by Woodland Papercuts
Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah by Woodland Papercuts
After I photograph my work, I wrap each order with care in my signature packaging. My packaging is simple in concept - I chose it foremost for its durability - but I take care to wrap each papercut so it feels like opening a gift, in honor of the art treasured inside. Each papercut is placed between two branded wood boards, secured with special Italian ribbon, and topped off with a personalized note. From when the ketubah is packed up and waiting for pickup until it arrives safely to its owners I am anxious, so there's nothing better than getting back feedback and beautiful photos of it in use!
Naomi Shiek Woodland Papercuts packaging papercut orders
____________________ F E E D B A C K ____________________
We were so proud to sign it and show it off to our guests under the chuppah! We adored working with you and can’t wait to hang it up in our home! Thanks again for playing a big role in making our wedding memories so special!
____________________ S A M  &  J A S O N ____________________
Moon & Flowers handmade papercut ketubah wedding
signing the Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah wedding
signing the Moon & Flowers papercut ketubah wedding
photos by A Nomadic Love

To Order Your Own 
H E I R L O O M   P A P E R C U T   K E T U B AH
Contact me HERE | Go to MY SHOP

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Friday, December 29, 2017

custom | Always & Forever ketubah

A detail shot of the custom design papercut ketubah by Naomi Shiek. Created for a Jewish wedding.
It's pretty rare for clients to contact me a year in advance asking for a ketubah, enough that they stand out in my memory. It's my business to create & deliver my ketubot fast, but I definitely appreciate a slower turnaround! In this case, it gave us time to bring to life Justin & Keri's vision of an enchanted forest full of color and symbolism.

Keri & Justin first contacted me in the summer of 2016 looking for a specific and unique large-scale ketubah for their autumn wedding the following year. They sent me a booklet detailing their vision with reference photos and descriptions of everything they wanted. While they were clear on their concept they were respectful of me as an artist and encouraged me to let my creativity go where it will with the design - the best clients a girl can ask for! They really wanted a multi-layered design with depth (specifically, they loved the look of a "tree tunnel"), like a shadowbox papercut. Due to how I need to pack my ketubot for safe shipping I can't frame them to create the shadowbox effect (unfortunately, wouldn't that be awesome!) but I was able to create the depth layering different color papers instead. There are four (4) tree layers here!

We first started with the idea of a vertical layout, but quickly moved on to a landscape design so the trees would feel more "embracing". I actually really like the first draft (seen below) and wish someone would take a liking to it and commission it soon (with minor changes of course, like no giraffes) because how can you say no to all that leafy detail work?

Back to the design: Once they realized they preferred the look and feel of the landscape orientation, it was up to me to fit all the elements and more. As you can imagine it's a big ask for a designer to harmoniously include everything the client wishes in way that's interesting and aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes edits have to be made, and creative interpretations made. Textured tree canopy over the text, fairy lanterns, giraffes (symbolic animals to the couple), the gazebo where he proposed... to say nothing of the things I myself wanted to include, like deer (no forest scene is complete without one!) and thirteen stars for good fortune. In fact, I included 7 lanterns, 13 stars, and 16 coupled animals, equal to 36, which means Two Lives in Judaism (oh, and one fawn for prosperity). What's more I had to make sure all the layers were interacting correctly, that there wasn't any unplanned overlap to cover elements and lessen the effect of depth of field. It took a little more tinkering than my usual layered designs, but looking at the final ketubah every hour spent drawing and redrawing the layers was well worth it.
Designed and cut by Naomi Shiek - detail of large scale papercut ketubah for Jewish wedding - Enchanted Forest custom design
Always & Forever Enchanted Forest papercut ketubah in progress
I believe the most important element (besides the custom text Keri & Justin provided) and the stepping stone for the entire fairytale concept was their motto ALWAYS & FOREVER, FOREVER & ALWAYS - which is also how the design got its name. We decided on cleverly working it into the tree bark, making it an inseparable, living, breathing part of the forest. Isn't it fitting? A fairytale's enchanted forest comes to life for an enchanted love story!
____________________ F E E D B A C K ____________________
We received our ketubah and it's even more beautiful in person then we imagined. We just wanted to thank you again for all your handwork, creativity, and flexibility throughout the design process. It was a true pleasure working with you, you really made the whole experience from conception to completion truly enjoyable.
Your work speaks for itself as to how talented you are. We are so thrilled to have a one-of-a kind piece of art that will fill the walls of our home for years to come.
________________________________________________________
Detail of multi-layered custom design ketubah I Am My Beloved's & My Beloved Is Mine
For more photos of this ketubah 
GO HERE
For more photos of other custom orders
GO HERE 
To Order Your Own 
H E I R L O O M   P A P E R C U T   K E T U B AH
Contact me HERE
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Friday, December 22, 2017

custom | By Location Designs

custom design handmade papercut ketubah
Over the years I've created a lot of designs based on or inspired by specific locations dear to the client's hearts (for example). When working with my clients on their vision for their ketubah it's usually up to me whether the design would be more of a collection of elements that evoke the feeling of the location, or an actual depiction of the scenery.

A common trait those looking for a 'by location' design is that they love camping. Now I love the outdoors, but I'm not a camper. I would like to enjoy this activity, but I'm much more at home well... at home. A recent example of a design I did for a couple who loves to hike up mountains can be seen in the post on Quaker papercuts I wrote, namely the Olympic Mountains for a Washington state based couple. I'm so lucky to be getting design commissions for mountains and forests and rivers and animals, it's wild!

One of my favorite commissions of 2017 lives up to this theme. It was also a 'legacy' order (I believe is the right term): the bride's sister ordered a ketubah from me years earlier, and when her own wedding came she chose me for her ketubah as well! Jessica & Matthew are an outdoorsy couple who love to hike in the country's national parks. In fact, the starting point for this whole design was the breathtaking photo you see here to the side that they shot on their backpacking trip through the Glacier National Park in Montana. This shot of contentment in the splendor of nature guided me on the look of feel I wanted for their design. I tried to capture the wild essence of the place with its abundance of flora (I used their wedding flowers too!), as well as sneak in their hammock, dog, and a little bit of ahava (love). It is simply, effortlessly, one of the more gorgeous designs I pulled off this year.

handmade papercut ketubah custom design for sale
LET'S MEET AT THE PARK
16X16 inches | Mercury & Midnight Blue
(click photo for best resolution) 
________________________________________________________

While editing the photos for this post (which are beautiful, scroll down to find the link for more), I found these two photos of designs from years past, which fit this post's theme and also show the different takes of 'by location' design:
click photo for best resolution
click photo for best resolution
THE FIG TREE | This ketubah was designed to represent the clients' backyard, with their fig tree taking center stage. Cats, birds, and specific flowers round up this quiet pond scene. What's unique with this ketubah is that the groom was going to write the text by hand himself, and the design was meant to fit around the allotted text space. I sent in the ketubah with a printed backup just in case.

ROCKY POINT ISLAND | Rocky Point Island in Australia was where Michelle & Timothy were getting married, and they wanted a design that would depict their wedding venue, iconic bridge and all.

For more photos of 
Let's Meet At The Park
GO HERE
For more photos of 
previous custom designs
GO HERE 
To Order Your Own 
C U S T O M   P A P E R C U T   K E T U B A H
Contact me HERE
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Friday, December 15, 2017

custom | Quaker wedding certificates

papercut artist Naomi Shiek papercutting a custom design quaker ketubahI make papercuts for all weddings, as luckily Jewish people aren't the only ones who thought of presenting their vows to their community in artful detail - take the QUAKERS for example. They take it a step further even and involve their community by having everyone sign their hand as witnesses to the union - making the ketubah pull double duty as both a troth keeper and a guestbook!

There are different styles and ways to go about writing a Quaker certificate. Traditionally the text is short and written by the community of witnesses (it is most comparable to the Jewish ketubah's Egalitarian text). The more modern texts range from the bride and groom's vows followed by their signatures and their guests' signatures, to a succinct sentence declaring all the signatories witnesses to the union followed by the signature lines (read the text options I offer HERE).

I like the approach that combines the couple's vows with space for all the wedding's guests because it has something for everyone. And I truly mean everyone, because like the Jewish ketubah, the Quaker certificate has been adopted and adapted by couples of all faiths and persuasions for their weddings, as seen below.


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