Earlier this year a got a phone call that was the first of its kind. The caller, Emily, said she wanted a custom tallit painted just for her, which would be based on a painted plate she bought on a trip to Spain. The trip had been her first time traveling alone without her family.
Emily wanted her new tallit to symbolize a journey of growth—of taking a leap into something new.
I loved this idea, but at first I was hesitant. While I love to paint custom ketubahs and taking on commissions for original paintings, I had never designed a custom painted tallit before. But after explaining the complicated tallit process and potential challenges to Emily, we both decided to go for it. You see, Emily is a graphic designer, so this project presented me with a very rare treat for a solopreneur -- a creative partner in crime!
From opposite sides of the country, Emily and I got to work. First, she sent me a photo of the beautiful Spanish plate that was the inspiration for her idea.
There were a few tweaks she wanted to make to the landscape. First, she wanted to swap out the trees for something that was more reminiscent of Jerusalem. Having lived in Jerusalem for four years, I immediately thought of my beloved cedar trees filling my old neighborhood with their magical smell. The second request was to make the road more windy.
This, Emily explained, was because she loved the Beatles song "The Long and Winding Road" (me too!!) and also because, as she put it "no journey is linear, it has twists and turns."
I got to work!
When I finished the painting I sent the digital file to Emily. She loved it, and began infusing it with her graphic design magic. She even designed a custom fabric for the matching bag! We spent months going back and forth with different edits and renditions, making all sorts of decisions together, like the size and color of the atara, and even the Hebrew font to use.
In addition to the Tallit blessing, Emily added a custom biblical phrase to her tallit about not being afraid. When we were both happy with the final art, I sent it off to my production partner for fabric, all the way in England! We waited anxiously to see how the fabric turned out.
I was so excited when the fabric arrived, I couldn't wait to show Emily.
I then drove the package through the winding Los Angeles canyon to my production partner for sewing. The ride felt fitting with the winding road painted fabric on my passenger seat. Emily and I waited on pins and needles as the sewing team worked on the tallit, matching bag and even a little surprise I had up my sleeve -- a matching kippah for Emily, too! When I picked it up, I saw that it had definitely been worth the wait.
When Emily's Winding Road Tallit was ready, I loved it so much that I tried it on myself and sent her a snapshot.
Emily answered, "Wow, the tallit looks amazing!!! It’s beyond my wildest expectations...it’s been such a team effort."
When I asked Emily why she decided to commission this tallit, she said:
"It marks a new chapter in my life, where I venture towards becoming a more active participant in the Jewish community."
"I'm building upon the skills I learned as a Bat Mitzvah and stepping into new roles. Like reading Torah regularly, joining the ritual committee, getting to know congregants over coffee, giving D'var Torahs, etc. I'm learning so much about the history, the people, and myself along the way."
Emily wearing her custom tallit for the first time
"It's not the destination that matters; it's the winding ways that get you there. The path is not linear. It will have its peaks and valleys as you venture through the rolling hills that build upon each other. But when you maintain faith and travel on, one hill to the next, one challenge to the next, you find meaning. You grow. "
Wise words, Emily. I feel the same way about my own journey as a member of the Jewish community, as an artist, as an entrepreneur, and even as a parent.
And guess what? Emily was kind enough to allow me to make her beautiful design available in my collection! Now you can get your own Winding Road Tallit, and wear it as a reminder to have faith and enjoy the journey.
Thank you, Emily, for choosing me as your partner for this amazing project! May you wear this tallit in good health for many, many meaningful and joyful moments. May you continue to be a light in the Jewish community and may all your winding roads be colorful and full of life!
Have an idea for your own custom painted tallit? Knock on my inbox and let's make it happen!