Each challah cover Tamara Zlotogoura designs is carefully crafted using only the finest materials and embroidery techniques.
Tamara wants to revive Judaic embroidery when items of such handcrafted beauty adorned the Sabbath table, our homes and synagogues. Her challah covers are gorgeous!! Tamara and I chatted right before Pesach. I’m excited to share her work with you.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born in Kolkata, India in 1955 and have lived in Israel, London and now reside in Spain.
Why did you decide to design challah covers?
Having always been intrigued with embroidery, in 1995 I finally set about replicating a challah cover which had been commissioned by my mother on my birth. That original piece of magnificent bullion work was the beginning of a revival of the style of embroidery I had grown up with.
Since then my work just evolved, resulting in the creation of a wide array of embroidered textiles for various religious ceremonial uses as well as synagogue vestments.
How long does each cover take to make?
The design process can be lengthy as I strive to achieve overall balance, especially if the design is asymmetrical. Upon reaching the final design, a hand-embroidered challah cover can take around three weeks and bullion work can take up to three months. Freehand machine embroidery can take a few days to complete, whereas computerized, digitized embroidery can be completed much quicker, though the initial digitizing of the stitches is laborious. I process many trials on various fabrics prior to reaching the final stitch types and colour combinations of the final piece, many of which are hand finished.
What inspires you in your work?
I believe exposure during early childhood to vibrant colour, exotic fabrics and exquisite embroidery plays a major part.
In my new collection, my desire is to portray Judaism by symbolic representation, incorporating suggestive numerical values, nature, and illustrative interpretations of biblical text within the designs in a subtle yet meaningful way.
Where can we purchase your challah covers?
The Jewish Museum, NY and The Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco stock selected items from my collection, or directly via my website, Jewisheritage.