Creating an Exclusive Ketuba
How It All Began ...
Norman's personal interest in this art form began with his own wedding. The officiating rabbi at his wedding ceremony was a scribe himself and, knowing that Norman was artistic and a graphic artist, suggested that he write and decorate his own ketuba (opposite).
He led him through the stages, going over the text of the ketuba, telling Norman of all the intricacies of the text, and advised him of when and where one can embellish words in the text. For example, Norman's wedding was held in Jerusalem and the officiating Rabbi told the artist that this was an honor and that the word "Jerusalem" could be ornamented in a special way. He was "hooked" and immediately fell in love with the art form ...
Word of mouth did the rest.
How an Exclusive Design is Created
Norman's ketubot are unique in that they develop and are created around the special interests and desires of the couple who order them or for whom they are a gift. They are not mass produced by any method; however, the artist has recently begun selling very high quality giclees [digital prints] of work he created at a lower cost for the wider public.
From Sketch to Finished Piece
An interested customer will fill in the online questionnaire, and all the information held within that questionnaire helps Norman prepare about 5 or 6 tiny composition thumbnail sketches as an initial stage, with no attention to details in any depth. He then requests that you choose 3 or 4 of those sketches.
Based on the choices made, he then makes more thumbnail sketches for their perusal and this sketch stage can continue for a few rounds until, by process of elimination, a final sketch is chosen. There is no monetary obligation for sketches and there is no obligation to commission until the interested couple commits to a sketch and requests that Norman make the sketch into their ketuba.
Opposite is a sketch that the customer committed to. The real work begins from here by tacking his hand-stained paper down and drawing the ketuba out in full scale. Throughout the execution stage, the artist remains in constant email contact, sending progress emails with pictures asking for advice, comments and criticisms and many things change as the ketuba develops.
Here is a picture of this ketuba in progress.
When all the painting has been completed, Norman begins working over everything in colored pencils, chalks, inks or whatever media he chooses that helps in giving the ketuba a feeling of depth and three-dimensionality. A leaf which should typically be green is transformed to blues, yellows or vibrant oranges. Trees have lives of their own. The stones of Jerusalem are not just ochre ... but actually reflect the colors around them.
If you are curioius to see this finished ketuba and its story, you're welcome to click here.
Executed on high-quality paper which Norman hand stains using a special technique of his own -- giving a feeling of parchment or wood -- no two ketubot are alike. If a customer would prefer to have their commission executed on parchment, the fee would be higher as parchment is very expensive and not easily available.
About Calligraphic Styles for the Text
When Norman is ready for the process of writing the actual text of each ketuba, he chooses a style, quite randomly, in a way that reflects the atmosphere of each ketuba and the personalities of the bride and groom.
For a more detailed explanation about the text for your ketuba, please see the special page for texts.
To guide you on Norman's Journey of Discovery, simply follow the links directly below to any of his galleries: