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Book details
  • Genre:RELIGION
  • SubGenre:Judaism / Sacred Writings
  • Language:English
  • Pages:82
  • Paperback ISBN:9781483585000

Embroidery and Sacred Text

New Designs in Judaic Needlework

by Rachel Braun

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Embroidery and Sacred Text introduces nineteen new designs in Judaic and Biblical embroidery, in stunning photographs of Rachel Braun’s original and colorful needlework. Erudite and insightful commentary accompanying each piece adds a spiritual dimension for appreciating the designs. In addition, Rachel shares forty embroidery motifs for fellow needle artists to incorporate in their own work, along with ten new embroidery alphabets for Hebrew and English lettering. A chapter explaining the mathematical considerations in embroidery design provides clear, accessible explanations of how geometric and algebraic factors underlie the shape of the embroidery patterns.


Praise for Embroidery and Sacred Text:

     "Rachel Braun's sabbatical project yields a treasury of embroidery, combining the precision of a mathematical mind with the spiritual depth of a true artist. Her embroideries commemorate life cycle events such as bar mitzvahs and births, but also comment on Torah texts and the experience of the Israelites in the wilderness. Rachel's embroideries walk us deeper into the texts, and her brilliant commentaries open up the "blackwork" that underlies her creative vision. Along the way she invents five new Hebrew fonts, designs five new English alphabets, and reproduces the templates for her designs. For anyone curious about how art, mathematics, and Judaics can be gloriously woven together, this book is a delight."

      -Rabbi Gilah Langner, Washington, DC

     "Rachel Braun's embroidery design fuses intellect and spirituality with the visual beauty and sensual pleasure of the fiber arts. As one who has worked for many years to develop a Jewish iconographic vocabulary in the manuscript arts, I particularly appreciate her remarkable use of mathematics in blackwork embroidery patterns to embody and express profound Jewish thought. What a pleasure to sink the hands and eyes into this elegant work!"  

     -Debra Band, artist and author, Kabbalat Shabbat: the Grand Unification

     "Acknowledging repetition as insistence, Rachel Braun stitches her interpretations of sacred texts. With exquisite craft as a statistician, needleworker, and text interpreter, she insists on each stitch--its mathematically calculated placement, its sources of inspiration, its relation to the power of the whole piece--as she insists on each line of text, including its multiple meanings, sounds, and implications for our own relation to the Whole. Rachel is sophisticated and masterful while simultaneously straightforward and generous. She readily shares her knowledge and insights, providing accessible explanations while also conveying the joy of designing and drashing in thread."

       -Amy Smith, handweaver, Blue Feet Studio, Arrowsic, Maine

About the author

     Some twenty years ago, Rachel Braun began to explore ways that Jewish texts could be embroidered – literally and figuratively – in original needlecraft designs. During a sabbatical year from her career as a high school mathematics and statistics teacher, she collected her work and thoughts in this volume. Her many talents – artistic, spiritual, and mathematical – come together in this work. Rachel’s embroidery canvases have hung in many venues, including libraries and places of worship. In 2014, her embroidery Bamidbar: In the Wilderness was selected for display in the juried exhibit accompanying the American Mathematical Society’s special session on mathematics and fiber arts.

     Rachel lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, Steven. Together, they raised four children who have become passionate and adventurous young adults. In addition to her mathematical undertakings, Rachel is a synagogue service leader, Torah chanter, and Jewish educator. Fun fact: she holds a Guinness Book of World Records certificate for the largest graph paper collection in the world, with more than 750 distinct sheets. Visit www.rachelbraun.net to learn more about her embroidery designs and to read her blogposts about Torah, graphs, and graph paper.