13 June 2009

On the binding of things:

It seems my insertion of my signature within the binding of my books

has generated some interest.

So I thought I would show you one more

Mainly for the benefit of those doing my classes who choose to follow suit.

Find something you feel is pertinent to the books subject or that is really personal and meaningful to you.

You do not even have to sign it because you already will have.

What’s she talking about I hear you all say!

Believe me, after doing a class with me your fingerprints will be all over the books.

Add some text, maybe it’s a note you have written.

Find something that is unique to your location maybe,

I chose this amazing leaf….

Lets imagine that this book was found in 50 years and the person was curious as to who made it.

So they went ahead and cut the binding open, what would they learn?

They would be able to conclude that the book was made in the fall.


They would probably be able to forensically determine that the leaf was from Australia and what year it was inserted.

They would see I was probably from an English Speaking country

Yet they would wonder why there is Hebrew text within the binding.

But it would not take them long to figure out that I wanted them to know I was Jewish

For I signed my name in Hebrew.

You see in Judaism we are given a Hebrew name. Historically, Jews did not have permanent family surnames at all. Within the Jewish community, we used patronymics. For instance mine is



the name of your father

"Bat Eliyakim"

“the daughter of Eliyakim”

And which of the 3 “tribes” one comes from

“Ha Levi”

“The Levite”

The Tribe of Levi, from "the 12 Tribes of Israel" - see side of my blog for a direct link to this artwork.

Now, the use of the word “tribe” here is not entirely correct but good enough to explain the name.

You see throughout the 40 years the Jewish people spent wandering in the desert the Jewish people travelled according to their tribe. When we entered into the Land of Israel (1273 BCE.), each tribe received a specific territory (except the Tribe of Levi which was given specific cities in which to live).

After the split of the Kingdom into Israel and Judah, following the death of King Solomon, the Assyrians conquered the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE and exiled the Ten Tribes.

Since then the Ten Tribes were not heard from and Jews can now only trace their lineage to the Kohanim

and The Levites.

The Levite (with the red sash, is assisting the Kohen, the High Priest with his duties)

Those that do not fall under those 2 tribes, reside under the designation of "Israelites" - not sure from which tribe they descend.

So I am a Levite but my children must follow their father and they are Israelites.

Therefore, the person who has opened the binding will now know that I am a Jew, the daughter of Eliyakim who can trace his lineage back thousands of years to the original Tribe of Levi.

Traditions and the upkeep of them, enables me to know my heritage.

Pretty interesting, isn’t it.



azirca said...

Absolutely fascinating and such an intriguing way of putting your 'signature' on an a piece of art in a not so obvious way.
It goes to show just how much thought that you put into each of your pieces.


lyle said...

fascinating. it is amazing how some things were handled in history! and nice to have them explained. thank you. lyle

La Dolce Vita said...

Knowing who you are, where you came from and what your name means is so important. What a great post. And thanks for visiting my blog!

Tecu'Mish said...

Judy, thank you once again for the wonderful "lesson". I believe that here in the states, the Mormons (Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints)believe that Native Americans are one of the Lost Tribes and that ancient Hebrew coins have been found out in the southwest....do you have any info on this?

Judy said...

You can read an interesting paper on it here,


Angie in AZ said...

I'm awestruck that you can actually trace your roots back so far. What an amazing thing for a sense of who you are. Very grounding.

Julie H said...

Hi Judy, I always sit on the other side of the desk when I visit your blog - thank you.

Dede Warren said...

Fascinating Judy... reminds me of the bible study I did years ago. Thanks for sharing these interesting bits that are for me what make your books so unique! I just love them!

Kim said...

As always Judy, a wonderfully fascinating post. I love that every time I pop in here I come away richer. Thank you so much for sharing both your theory and techniques but also something of yourself!

Vicki said...

Judy, Thank you for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I enjoy your blog sooo much! I wish I lived close enough to attend one of your classes! My hubby calls me a bibliophile... and I'll gladly admit to it, but I've never made one myself. I'd love to learn how to do bookbinding, and I am fascinated with publications such as Somerset Studio's "True Colors!" If only I could make something that wonderful! I see you list Jenny Doh on your fav blog list. (:

Bookbinding aside, your family history is amazing. And I thought being able to trace my family roots back to 1720 was big! LOL As you might have read in my post, my family history was Amish, however my great grandmother converted, and I was raised in a religion that worships on Saturday... observing the hours from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, and actually follows many other Jewish traditions. I loved hearing about your family. I love history... but family is so important. Learning about how names are passed in your family was so interesting! It gives such a rich and deep connection... one to be valued and protected.

irenka said...

I'm not Jewish, but this is so fascinating. Thank You for sharing.

Marie said...

Thank you, Judy, for explaining about your signature in the binding.

Thank you also for sharing your family history with us.

I love visiting your blog as I always learn something. I knew about the Jewish tribes from bible studies but had no idea that lineage could only be traced to 2 distinct tribes and that the Israelites were a combination of the other 10. How sad for the other 10 tribes.

I only wish that I, as a non-Jew, could trace back that far.

Thank you once again, Judy.

Leslie said...

I love the hunter/gatherer in you and your work. The details and the background you weave into everything you do is . . . well, fascinating. (I'd have like to have come up with a more original word than the one those above me here used, but it is the right one.)

I recall my 'a-ha' moment sitting in your class in Portland when you described how you decide the elements to use on a page and in a book. You do it to me all the time.



Ro Bruhn said...

Amazing Judy, only you could hold our interest with such a fascinating story, you tell them well.

Anonymous said...

I just finished reading "people of the book" and this post is right out of that amazing story... the haggedah and the extraordinary journey it took..

Judy said...

That is my all time favourite book! How amazing.

Susie Jefferson said...

Just one word to say to you:


Re your post to me - you gonna argue, huh, huh? Yes you ARE The Best of the Best. I'm going to forward the post onto my friend Estelle (The Stampsmith) also Jewish, rightfully proud of her heritage (don't know if you already know her) who is going to be so fascinated!

What wonderful historical detail - I never knew about any of this. Thank you.

Seth said...

There is always something to be learned from every post on your blog. I have always thought that you put all of yourself into your artwork. And with your signature binding, I see that this is literally true! I love that your heritage is so important to you.

Steph said...

Pretty interesting indeed ! Thank you so much for sharing! I'm never disappointed when I stop by your blog!

Chrisy said...

I enjoyed reading this entry very much...you really go 'beyond the covers' to make your work unique!

Tina said...

Wow, thanks for sharing the history of your family, I found it fascinating, and love the way you sign your bindings.

Nikki Lee Anne Ghilain said...

Always pure pleasure to visit...Thank you for sharing your world! I am going to take a class with you someday soon!

Karen Cole said...

Toda rabah, Yehudit!!! Oye....I have much to learn oh great one.


sharon said...

WOW! Have finally visited you through a reference by Deryn. I am breathless, speechless, amazed. So much to learn of your creativity and inner beauty I have to come back because I have to get up in less than 6 hours to go to work. Everything is soo beautiful!

Kristen Robinson said...

An absolutely lovely post that is written in a lyrical and amazing manner. Miss you dear friend. Xxxxxoooo

Pearl Maple said...

Beautiful post, so true about signatures, all artists should lay claim to their creations and yours is truely inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

Sam Marshall said...

I love the way you sign your bindings and found your post absolutely fascinating.

Dale said...

This is such a special thing, the way you sign your books. Beautiful, beautiful work!

Sue McGettigan said...

Judy you're amazing. Thanks for taking the time for the explanation of the tribes and Jewish naming traditions.

Thanks SO much for sharing the great ideas for putting a personal signature on your work, I particularly love the archeological dig/time capsule/hidden message element of your signature in the binding.

Judy said...

I am so glad you guys like binding and the explanations of why I do what I do. i appreciate all your feedback, its gratifying.

mendytexas said...

I love the binding! I am Malkah, Bat Leib/Penina!! Gotta ask about my tribe though. You always inspire me Judy! :)mendy

Judy said...

If you do not have Ha Cohen or Ha Levi - after your name then you are a Yisrael!
Malkah means queen.
Leibe is the Yiddish for Arieh - meaning lion.
The Bat Penina (being your mothers name) does not come into play here - it is used on other very crucial occassions though.

Suze said...

Judy....positively brilliant...a great tribute to your name and our ancestry. My mother was part of a Cohen dynasty but my father was an Israelite....
it is WONDERFUL that you share this information.