Meet The Artist: Sharona Lomberg of Pardes Designs™

© Sharona Lomberg / Beth Copper

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.

I am an Israeli Judaica artist and designer living in Hawaii. I specialize in creating Contemporary Tallit designs that connect your roots to the present time.

I was born and raised in Israel to a traditional Yemenite family.

I am a wife, mother, friend — like all women, I do many things. After serving in the military as a Navy officer, I decided to travel and explore North America. A journey that changed my life forever. I lived in Toronto, Canada, where I started designing and painting Tallitot (Tallises) and other Judaica. In 1988 my husband and I moved to Hawaii. While raising our children, I founded a Jewish education non- profit organization in Hawaii. My goal was involving the Jewish community and the children to learn and experience the celebrations of Shabbat and Holidays, learn Hebrew, Torah, and participate in Tikkun Olam. We received awards on a state and national level from the Make-A-Difference Day Foundation and others.

The concept of “Tikkun Olam” (translates as “repairing the world”), is very dear. As such, I am donating from the total net profit of every sale to a worthy cause.

My artistic journey started over 30 years ago when I founded Sharona Silk Creations, hand-painting Tallitot, and other artifacts on silk. My art sold all over the USA, in permanent and private collections, such as the Jewish Museum, on the cover of the Ark in Temple Emanuel in Honolulu HI, private collection of the late Senator Daniel Inouye, a long-time friend of Israel.

Now that the children have grown, I’m back to my love creating Judaica.

What inspired you to become an artist?

Life is funny. I lived in Toronto for a few years. One day a dear friend of mine told me that he registered me to a silk painting workshop. “It’s paid,” he said. All I had to do is show up.

So, out of respect, I did. I’ll never forget the first I introduced to silk. A stretched white silk scarf was in front of me, waiting for me to paint on it. I looked at the scarf; it was

beautiful, white, shiny. How could I stain it with my brush? However, that day, something was born, and I didn’t even realize it. I started painting for fun when friends encouraged me to begin painting Judaica Ex. Challah cover, Matzah covers, Tallitot (Tallises), etc. So, to test the market, I painted Challah covers.

My friend (may he rest in peace) was the first one who introduced me to painting and encouraged me to build a business, and 25 years later my parents did, but that’s another story.

However, my husband, Jon Lomberg, is the one person who was and still is standing by me, encourage, advise, critique, compliment, and celebrating my successes with me. He is my backbone. I wouldn’t be where I am without him.

What is your specialty?

I believe it’s creating Judaica on fabric.

How and where do you work?

I can work anywhere. By that, I mean, my brain is always on, thinking about different concepts and ideas I learned. I’m interested in the roots of Hebrew words and their meanings and how they relate to other words with the same roots. I love letters, their numerical value, and the connections to other words and concepts. I love to dig deep, to the extent I know-how. I always look for another layer of interpretation. I find it fascinating.

I have designing sessions in my head. I usually conceive the idea, create the whole design in my mind, and then execute it. I work at home at all hours of the day. I have the flexibility to determine my schedule.

What is the most indispensable item in your studio?

I’m sitting here wondering, what could it be? It might sound funny, but it’s my mind, my creativity. If I’m creative, I can overcome most things.

I live on the Big Island in Hawaii for over 30 years. At that time, not much developed yet. We had one main road and not too many stores. As an artist, it was quite frustrating not to be able to get products and tools. And at those days we didn’t have the worldwide web. Everything had to be flown over. I learned that if I need or miss

something, I have to be creative as for how to make it, borrow it, ship it over. I traded comfort for beauty!

Where do you take your inspiration? Are you pursuing any themes?

I take my inspiration from the Bible -stories, blessings, Mitzvot, Jewish books, lectures, and nature. I always search for the meaning in every story. Jewish values are significant to me, and I like to apply them in my personal life.

Living in Hawaii, I am surrounded by nature with flowers, trees, the Ocean, the mountains, and much more. The beauty inspires me, for instance; There are gorgeous trees here. Some are a few centuries old. Their roots intertwined and climb above the ground, which reminds me of the Tree of Life. Some trees have beautiful leaves and flowers that cover the tree from above. That reminds me of a Chuppa. It’s then that my mind starts working and trying to connect what I saw to different concepts in our history and culture.

My husband, who is an acclaimed astronomy artist, is the one who exposed me to the different worlds, the Ocean, the silent world by swimming and diving. The night skies- clear skies where we can see the stars and planets, galaxies and more. The Mountains, the Volcano with it’s flowing lava. These elements are part of the creation.

Being Yemenite from a traditional family, I lived and breathed the Yemenite customs and ceremonies like the Yemenite Rosh Hashannah seder, Passover seder, Shabbat, Yemenite cooking and baking, our distinctive Jewelry all inspired me.

By choosing the name of my company, I tried to convey the essence of my work. Pardes means orchard, garden, is also an acronym for the four interpretation levels of the Torah. I am fascinated by the concept and try to apply it to the degree that I can reach.

In Hebrew, PaRDeS has four letters – Pe, Resh, Dalet, and Samech.

P (P’ shat) the literal level of the story. The next level Resh (Remez) Remez means a hint, where we start to understand that there is more to the story. Dalet (D’rash) is the level of commentaries, interpretations, making the connections and Samech (Sod), means secret, the esoteric, the mystical level.

I hope to share my thoughts and ideas through my understanding and the connections I’m learning. I don’t pretend to know much. But I strive to learn more.

BTW, a fun fact. Hawaii is called paradise. Did you know it comes from the word Pardes?

What projects are you currently working on?

I just came out with a new collection of 7 contemporary Tallitot (Tallises), which I’m introducing to the market. At the same time, my mind is always looking and creating the next piece -the Never-Ending cycle. But, I can share I have designs in the making.

What are my next projects? You’ll have to wait and see.

What is/are your favourite item/s in your current collection?

I am pretty sure you hear this answer quite often. That’s like asking a Mom which child is her favorite. Each one has its special meaning, memory, and journey. I can’t choose, but it’s interesting to me to see what people are attracted and gravitate to.

How do you know when a piece is finished?

When I design, I usually conceive the idea first; then my imagination takes over. I see the finished piece in my mind, and then I start executing it. Of course, I need to tweak it along the way as necessary.

When is it done? I just know it. There is a sense of completion. I expressed what I needed to show.

Do you do bespoke work?

I used to do commissions in the past. When I am working on a commission, I learn about the person/people from conversations with them. I try to figure out if my idea will resonate with them.

Making a commissioned piece is very challenging and can be gratifying work.

At this point, I am focusing on my new collection. Along the way, I intend to have a line of one of a kind pieces l that people can choose.

What was the first artwork you ever sold?

My first piece was a Challah cover, hand-painted on silk. It sold to a beautiful Judaica store in Toronto, Canada, who later became one of my preferred clients. Being new, I had to ask the store buyer how much I should charge (that was about 30yrs. ago).

Which project have you enjoyed working on the most so far?

Working on a new project is full of excitement, ideas, and energy. I love all of them. This current collection is very special to me.

Years ago, before I started my family, I established Sharona Silk Creations. I used to paint each piece by hand. Once I had my children, I stopped my Judaica business. They were my priority (still are). I honestly didn’t think I’ll come back to creating Judaica again.

I lost both my parents a few years ago, five weeks apart. My parents and I were very close. It was a difficult time, and also as it happens at the same time, it was a time of transition, to what, I didn’t know.

I will never forget it. It was about six months after my parents passed away. Mid-morning, I was sitting on my Lanai (porch in Hawaiian) thinking, and out of the blue, with no warning, it came to me. I must go back to my old love of making Judaica, but this time, I must make it possible for anyone to be able to have it. Before I could hand-make only in small quantities, where now my mission is sharing and spreading it all over the world. But one thing I knew, each Tallit must have meaning behind it. Not only the beauty of the prayer shawl.

I genuinely believe this awakening is my parents’ gift to me. This business is dedicated to my parents Mazal and Zecharia Ozery, and to my mother-in-law Lily Lomberg, who treated me like her daughter. May they all rest in peace! I created an icon with the first letter of their names. The three letters are M, Z, and L. When I write the three letters in Hebrew: Mem, Zayin, and Lamed, it becomes the word Mazal, which means luck in Hebrew.

Is it a coincidence or is it intended to be as an amulet to reassure me of my new path? That’s a good question.

This business had been a blessing in my life. It’s magical and unique to me.

What do you want to achieve with your work, and what are your wishes for the future?

My wish is to have B’nai Mitzvah, women and men attracted to my Tallitot (Tallises) not only for their physical beauty. I want people to connect to the essence of it. I wish that each Tallit would be a bridge to a higher connection between the wearer and our story – our history.

My tagline is “The thread that connects us.” What makes the garment into a Tallit are the fringes on the four corners, called Tzizit. It’s the thread that connects us all. The chain we should not break. If each of us feels connected to our history, heritage, and

roots, this strong chain will never break. Many have tried throughout our history and also in the present time. We should be proud of who we are.

Where can we find your work?

You can find my work on my website, Instagram, Facebook, email, and shortly in different Judaica stores, gift shops, and online stores.

I will keep in touch with anyone interested. The easiest way is to visit our website; there you can join our newsletter, which will inform you about new products, discounts, and promotions. It is my promise not to bombard you with too many emails. You can also email me at info@pardesdesigns.

Website:                           www.pardesdesigns.com

Instagram:                        @pardesdesigns

Facebook:                         https://www.facebook.com/pardesdesigns/

Thank you.

© Sharona Lomberg / Beth Copper
© Sharona Lomberg / Beth Copper
© Sharona Lomberg / Beth Copper
© Sharona Lomberg / Beth Copper

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