When the Orangetown Jewish Center wanted to celebrate those families with multiple generations of members currently in the congregation, they decided to create a special book to honor them. They purchased a big, thick, beautiful leather bound book with blank deckled-edge pages. It was the perfect book for such an honored group. But how to write in it? Who could write in it?
Referred by a local store, they called on me to help them finish what they had begun.
The first pages were to include a letter from the Rabbi, and a hand drawn and lettered copy of the two plaques on the front of the book. The following pages were reserved for all the family trees. The design had to allow for updates to each family tree, as needed.
The idea was that each page of the book was to show the lineage of one family, beginning with the first generation and proceeding on down to the last. Room had to be left for new members to be added later.
Rather than just listing the names with lines drawn in between, I came up with a branch-and-leaf tree design that could be adapted for the size of each family. For a smaller family, the page looked like this,
and for a larger one, like this. Each of the 37 family trees was done by hand, one leaf at a time. Gouache was used for its versatility, opacity, and acid free qualities. Classic Copperplate calligraphy was a natural choice for such a classy and enduring project. The shades of brown and green I chose were carefully matched to the cover and the lining of the book.
I considered it an honor to work with the OJC on such an important project.
This newly planted ‘Family Tree’ is firmly rooted and ready to grow!