Story of Creation
Our forefathers teach us that the limitless God was only able to create physical form by “focusing light into vessels.” The light was so intense that the vessels shattered. This is known as שבירת הכלים. Man’s duty is to find and unify the holy sparks in the world.
Each time we build a furnishing for a synagogue or private home, the team is left with a pile of similar shaped scraps that would otherwise be discarded. I save these scraps on the side bundled together, until an idea resonates.
Hebrew letters are the vessels of creation in each moment. The torah tells us explicitly that Bezalel, the craftsman designated by God, was “endowed with wisdom and understanding” to manipulate the materials and tools according to God’s instructions. Wisdom and Understanding correspond to the second two sephirot. This not only teaches us that ceremonial art must be endowed with spirit during construction, but that all physical action comes first from on high (כתר) to wisdom (חוכמה), then understanding (בינה).
Once the idea is processed, the scraps are cut up at angles, according to rhythmic calculations and glued back together into fantastic flowing shapes. The wood is then shaped, sanded, finished, and polished with the help of a variety of hand tools and machines.
Air, Water, Fire, and Earth are identified in Jewish text as relating to the four directions, and identifying with the next four sephirot. These are the elements that Hashem has given us to create. We use flow in design and technique to harness and manipulate these elements into new form.
I often build wood molds for glass blowing. It feels like the ultimate unification. There is a wood mold soaked in water. Molten glass is collected and shaped by maker is perfect form. Then, the maker transfers his breath from his diaphram into the vessel, while he places the glass into a hand carved mold that has been soaking in water. The result is exciting. You can hear the sizzling of water being quenched. Clouds of humid smoke form around you. And when the glass is lifted out of the mold, you feel it has cooled and stiffened enough to take on the form of the mold.