They call her “The Jewish Wedding Whisperer.” Joy Glicker Lieber has just introduced a brand new and unique item to her lineup of All-Things-Jewish-Wedding. It’s called “StepOnIt! Chuppah Glass Art.” The directive is – Never let that broken Chuppah glass be thrown away again! (A “Chuppah” or wedding canopy, symbolizes the home the Jewish couple is about to build together. It can be made from anything with four poles and a roof.) How exciting and romantic to have that cherished moment frozen in time forever! This is her fourth wedding related project, all emanating from her intuitive creativity &a yearning to inspire brides and grooms.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
It all began at the age of three when I was assigned the role of (practically) professional flower girl at my big sisters’ and cousins’ weddings. I was born later in life to my adoring parents, and as soon as I was able to walk, it was down the aisle for me. Flower Girl progressed to Junior Bridesmaid, followed by Bridesmaid and then Bride. By now, I’ve been fortunate to also be a repeat Mother of the Bride/Groom. But seventeen years ago, I decided to go backstage to examine the minute wedding details involved. I already knew how to sew and do calligraphy in both Hebrew and English. I minored in Art at Stern College of Yeshiva University, majored in Psychology at Bar Ilan University in Israel and studied at the Craft Students League of NY. When my daughters were getting married, I discovered an absence of modest bridal gowns in the Orthodox community on Long Island, where I live. I researched, designed and in 2002 opened the doors to BRIDAL SECRETS followed by NIP & TUCK Alterations in Cedarhurst, NY, the hub of the illustrious ‘Five Towns’. While dressing my brides (who never hesitate to confide in me) I’d discreetly inquire about how the couple met and how long they knew each other. I heard thousands of assorted answers, not all to my satisfaction. And so I created “PERFECT MATCHES The Interactive Jewish Dating Game” with five hundred relevant questions included in a compact board game. And, to my astonishment, it became an instant hit! I received international acclaim and publicity and became The Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 at the Jewish Women Entrepreneurs organization.
Now, five years later, while still busy designing and dressing brides and their families, I decided to relaunch my hobby of twenty five years ago, STEPONIT! Chuppah Glass Art, formerly called Mazel Tov Creations. What inspired you to become an artist?About twenty five years ago, while standing at the Wailing Wall (the “Kotel”) in Jerusalem and attending a wedding nearby, the images I had witnessed began to visually merge together. The broken shards the groom had stepped on under the Chuppah fused back together again to spell words in my mind. People often ask me exactly how that process takes place, but it’s something every “artist” will tell you – their brains are wired that way. It’s not a skill you can necessarily teach someone without those intrinsic abilities. The challenge is that it’s not easy to put yourself out there and become vulnerable. I rarely use my own name on my projects or I utilize a pseudonym. I do, however, personally sign each of the Chuppah Glass Art pieces. But now I’ve been instructed to seize the opportunity to increase marketing to my potential target audience via social media.
What is your specialty?
Besides bridal gowns, headpieces, veils and reinventing women’s clothing, my new specialty is the Chuppah Glass Art. The artwork is usually personalized with the couple’s names and wedding date in English or Hebrew. The broken glass can spell out one of several chosen phrases either in English or Hebrew. I also create Broken Pottery Art, which is very similar but made from broken plates. It’s a unique Judaica wall hanging for any Jewish home. It can also be personalized, but often is not. It depicts the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem and the pottery spells out “Im Eshkacheich Yerushalayim” in Hebrew. Translated, that means, “If I forget thee Jerusalem…” All of the pieces of artwork, made out of glass or pottery are completely three dimensional. Every single time I finish one I’m amazed. The process is almost magical. But then again, I feel that way about all art.
How and where do you work?I work in my home studio in New York. After receiving an order from my Etsy shop, I ship the couple (or the person buying them the artwork as a gift) a small “kit” which includes a colored glass of their choice in an embossed velvet bag – all free of charge. The client only pays for the completed artwork. Included in the kit is a personalization form and a self-addressed insulated envelope. The couple brings the glass in the pouch to the wedding, the groom steps on it under the Chuppah and after taking it home they ship it back to me with their completed form and I create their artwork. I then ship the framed artwork to the newly married couple. If it’s made of broken pottery, the buyer can send me their own plate or use one of mine.
What is the most indispensable item in your studio?
There are so many indispensable components to this process, but there is one that I’m so glad I purchased – and that’s a lightbox. I place the acrylic sheet I paint on right on its surface to give me clarity that no overhead light source can duplicate.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?
My inspiration comes directly from two sources. The couples can choose to either have a beautiful Chuppah on their artwork (if they send me a picture of their own Chuppah I can replicate it) or I keep lots of photographs and drawings of the Kotel around me, so that I can visualize standing in Jerusalem, praying for the rebuilding of the Beit Hamikdash (The Holy Temple) and transferring the scene onto the piece of art. I wish I could just close my eyes and transport myself to Jerusalem, instead!
On my visits to Israel, I always keep my eyes wide open to discover and examine all of the new and innovative Judaica produced by Israeli artists in galleries, shops, museums or their home studios. They never fail to inspire me.
What projects are you currently working on?
I just opened my new Etsy shop and launched a website for the Chuppah Glass Art. It took me months to make the samples, have them photographed (by my son the photographer) and tweak the websites. So many details! In the meantime, of course, I’ve been busy dressing brides. I’m also the administrator of several Chessed publications and WhatsApp groups in my community. (Chessed means kindness and compassion for others). In addition, I’m a trained Medical Clown and involved in Bikur Cholim (visiting the sick). I guess you could say that I just like trying to make people happy. I’m often told that’s probably why my parents named me Joy, but maybe the chicken came before the egg ????? In my spare time (ha!) I read a great deal, crochet and do original needlepoint – most currently Tefillin bags for my grandsons.
What is your favourite item in your current collection?
Well…. I feel like I birthed this collection, so honestly – does a mother really have a favorite ???? When I was making the samples, I thought I’d have a little fun and tried to think of some Jewish celebrity couples for whom I had wished I’d made these. One of my sons was the percussionist in the orchestra at Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner’s wedding, so I personalized one for them. Then I researched further and saw that Jessica and Jerry Seinfeld were married on my oldest grandson’s birthday, so I personalized one for them too. I hope people get a kick out of seeing those samples, and I’d actually love to send them to both couples, if they’re interested. Perhaps someone reading this would make the connection!
How do you know when a piece is finished?
It’s finished when I become exhausted! Creating these are emotionally draining.
Do you do bespoke work?
All of my work is made by hand, by myself, as a labor of love. I take my work very seriously. No two pieces will ever be exactly alike. They are each based on my artistic interpretation.
What was the first artwork you ever sold?
I created several pieces of Chuppah Glass Art twenty-five years ago as wedding gifts for family and friends. When people saw them hanging on the walls of their homes, they ordered from me. That, of course, was pre-internet so I had brochures made. It feels prehistoric now but I saved every single item I used from that project. I guess my intuition told me I would revive it one day. Now that the world has changed, I can offer them both domestically and internationally.
Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?
To be honest, I’m passionate about designing gowns and reinventing women’s clothing. And I love making Chuppah Glass Art. But my most meaningful project has been creating the PERFECT MATCHES game. I’ve received hundreds of emails from people, especially singles, from all around the world, thanking me for changing their dating experiences. That was my dream – to be able to make a difference in the world. People stop me in the street to tell me that they just became engaged and would never have had the clarity they had without playing the game. They also contact me to let me know that without playing the game they would have married the wrong person! I find that so very satisfying. I hope people play it indefinitely. Married couples and families enjoy playing too – it’s really for everyone to get to know each other better.
What do you want to achieve with your work and what are your wishes for the future?
Just the notion that something I made with my own hands can be found in so many people’s homes is thrilling. Whether it’s the Chuppah Glass Art (I feel like I attended the wedding!) or the bridal gowns (I feel like I was part of the Simcha!) or the games (I feel like I had a hand in the match!) I can prove that “you CAN dance at more than one wedding at a time” (at least in my mind). If all goes well and Jewish couples keep getting married, I hope to make the Chuppah Glass Art for as long as our Creator gives me the ability.
Where can we find your work?
Facebook: StepOnIt ChuppahGlassArt
© Joy Glicker Lieber