Photo: Courtesy of Ahuva Elany
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
My name is Ahuva Elany, I am a 45 year old Israeli artist, married to Amir and mother of Or, a 19-year-old solider, and Agam, who is 15. At the age of four, I immigrated to Israel from the former Soviet Union together with my parents, my brother, and my grandmother. My parents were Zionists and dreamed of immigrating to Israel. I grew up with a love for the country, its values, and Jewish tradition.
In High School, I studied graphic arts, and in the military service, I worked as a graphic designer, but I always knew that my true passion was handmade art. I have always longed to feel the material and to create something tangible from it.
After my military service, I began to study jewellery making at the Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem. In 2003, I opened my own small workshop in my home, in Rishon LeZion, and developed my own unique technique.
What inspired you to become an artist?
Since I was a little girl, I had a strong attraction to the arts. I would spend many hours decorating my room, painting, going to art classes, and stitching clothes for my dolls. I had all kinds of ideas and an urge to create, to work with my hands.
I grew up in a very artistic home, my mother, a doctor by profession, was always very fond of painting and her beautiful paintings decorated quite a few corners of the classroom in my school. My childhood home was a creative house full of musical talents, everyone played and sang and I also played the piano for many years and really loved to sing. But in the end, I’m the only person in my family who made their love for the arts a profession.
When I was a child, I didn’t think about becoming an artist, I dreamed of being a veterinarian. When I decided to study at Bezalel, I realised that the passion for creating, and putting the ideas out there that I have in my head, was burning. During my studies, I gained confidence in my talent and myself, and realised that I really love to work with metal, the hard work, the physical work with the hammers and the tools, connecting to the material and working with my hands.
What is your specialty?
My speciality is to create from a flat copper metal plate a three dimensional creation using a unique technique that I’ve developed.
I use thick sheets of copper that is cut with a specialized thin saw and Photochemical burning technique.
Then the copper is heated with a burner to a very high temperature. Using special Heating-and-Cooling techniques, that makes the metal malleable and gives it the special variety of colours.
The copper goes through a hammering and embossing process where it gets its unique shiny texture. Slowly, the symbols become three-dimensional and look almost alive.
The next step requires 2 layers of lacquer covering to prevent oxidation.
When the copper is dry, holes are drilled and beads are added.
How and where do you work?
My workshop is in my house, two small rooms where I can be found almost every day. My husband Amir has worked with me for 15 years, he is responsible for managing orders, sales, and also in assisting me in the workshop. We spend most of our time together, at home and working together, and raising children.
What is the most indispensable item in your workshop?
My hammers and anvils.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
In the beginning, my inspiration came mainly from nature. I created decorative candlesticks for the walls and sold them at an art fair in Tel Aviv. I met many people there from almost anywhere in the world and realised that people were looking to decorate their home not only with beautiful but meaningful pieces as well. It made me go back to my own Jewish roots and values that I grew up with in my parents’ home.
Since then, Jewish themes and the love for Israel have been my main inspiration. I still draw inspiration from nature and trees I love so much until this very day.
Do you do bespoke work?
Yes, I really like challenges. When a customer contacts me with a request for a custom piece, I build the work with them involved in every step on the way. I see this as an opportunity to develop as an artist professionally and as an opportunity to make personal contact with clients.
What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a project on the seven species, with a slightly different technique and size comparing to what I have created so far. The piece is made from a combination of copper plates and copper wires with a technique typical to my work combined with watercolour painting.
What are your favourite items in your current collection?
This is a very difficult question, because I love and connect to all my work, but if I had to choose one anyway, I would choose my Hamsa blessings.
How do you know when a piece is finished?
In the beginning of my work as an artist, I considered every piece as a sketch because I always saw that I could add and improve and that there was no end. It was never ready. Today, I am more flowing with what I create and learned to stop and accept what I created as finished piece.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
The first piece I sold was a decorative copper candleholder for the wall.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
Throughout my years as an artist, I enjoy researching and designing works on the seven species. There is a lot of colourful materials, nature, and fascinating symbolism on this subject.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
I want to make people happy and excite them with my work. My aspirations for the future are to focus on creating large unique pieces of art and to view my artwork in renowned places around the world.
Where can we find your work?
You can find my artwork on my website:
Photos: Courtesy of Ahuva Elany