I gave myself a little Misericordia sabbatical over the last few months. I thought it would be restorative, but it just made me feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything, so here I am back again.
Procrastination is my specialist subject, so I was happily dithering over the next installment of the Ark Project when all of a sudden, I took out the iron and the shears and cut out the fabric for the last phase of this set of furnishings. I was just as surprised as you are.
Allow me to walk you through the design difficulties of this particular piece.
The mantle is the most-handled part of the set. The Torah is carried around, undressed and redressed by many hands during the service. The fairly flat rectangular shape and set it and forget it-ness of the curtain and bimah cover meant I could use three dimensional loose banners for the text and leaves, but the mantle has to be Ballet Costume Stable.*
The final aesthetic challenge is a lack of decorative space. Torahs are meant to be royally attired, which means a breastplate, crown and a sceptre (which is really a hand-shaped pointer so you can keep your place without getting your mucky fingerprints all over the scroll; my religion takes books very seriously indeed). Once you’ve got the bling on, there isn’t much available space for decoration. Most of the time the dressed Torah is out of the ark, it’s cradled against someone’s shoulder, which covers even more of the front.
By Sultan Edijingo (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
It’s going to call for a complete change of approach, where the previous two pieces were designed as images, this one is going to have to be draped on a Torah form!
Watch this space for a cardboard Torah dress form, coming soon…
*Ballet Costume Stable: Is there anything that will catch on people or other fabrics? Can you spin around 32 times without anything falling off it? Can you put it on and take it off in the dark within 32 beats of music?