My best friend is a quilter like me; she’s also a Christian. She decorates her house for every holiday, like Christmas or Easter, and it’s beautiful! I’ve always envied her this. Especially Christmas - her house looks so festive in this season. One day I realized that decorating the house for holidays does not have to be a Christian prerogative. But epiphanies aside, I still found it difficult to decide what to do about house decorations for Jewish holidays. There is one holiday though, in the Jewish calendar, that lends itself to decorations of every sort with ease and elegance - Succoth.
Ever since I understood this, I’ve been working on beautifying our Succah. I started with the walls and experimented with painting, stamping and dyeing, but was not happy with the results. Then I found a quilt top of the Seven Species that languished as a UFO (UnFinished Object) in my closet. I took it out and incorporated it into a Succah wall.
Then another UFO surfaced - a bunch of swap block of doves from all over the world. They were incorporated into a second wall. This wall is particularly meaningful to me because of the Israeli song “Shlomit builds a Peace Succah”. This wall became a conversation piece as our guests, especially the children, spend time trying to find out the names, countries and flag colors of the various contributors.
Last spring I participated in an Eco-Print workshop with Irit Dulman, a wonderful Eco-Print artist. The result of the workshop was a pile of gorgeous, mostly monochrome leaf prints from native Israeli flora. These prints seemed perfect for a new wall. As usual I procrastinated for months and started working on the wall a week before Succoth, but did finish it on time. It seems very appropriate to have the trees of Israel surround us in the Succah.
Till last year most of the decorations in our Succah were cheap Chinese tinsel garlands. Then a friend told me about up-cycling Nespresso capsules. The possibilities were endless and intriguing. I started collecting empty capsules and asked all of my friends and neighbors to collect for me. The capsules started piling up. My husband was looking askance at the box of clean capsules and the bowl of capsules coming in from near and far, some in various stages of penicillin growth. The pile was becoming unnerving and I didn’t know where to start, but couldn’t admit defeat. Succoth was approaching fast… Finally a month ago I bit the bullet.
Our dining room table was transformed into a sweatshop for production of Nespresso decorations. I bought a selection of tools and materials to assist in the job and unearthed beads and recycled necklaces for the purpose. In the beginning I was hesitant and produced small, ineffective pieces. Decorating a whole Succah with these decorations was futile. Large, ball shaped decorations would be much more effective - but how to make them? Eureka! Flattened capsules can be attached to Styrofoam balls. A whole line of balls resulted from variations on this idea.
Next we needed garlands. Some experiments later, a line for production of garlands was in place. To be honest, it is hard to make a beautiful garland without some large sparkly beads which had to be bought. In a way it defeats the purpose of recycling and is costly, but then I'm not a purist.
Succoth is finally here and we are entertaining all the time in our beautiful, upgraded Succah. I already know what is needed for next year - a patchwork table cloth. Good that Yom Kippur is just before Succoth and I have Kol Nidrei to release me from this promise if I don't come through...