About Ketubot: Your Questions Answered

Q. What is a ketubah?

A. A ketubah is traditionally a legal document that serves as a marriage contract between a Jewish bride and groom. It was originally created near the end of the 1st century C.E. and used to be one of the more unromantic elements of the wedding, since it served a similar purpose as the modern pre-nuptial agreement.

The first ketubot (plural of “ketubah”) were written in Aramaic -- the technical, legal language of the Talmud – and signed by two male witnesses who attested to the promises made by the groom in the document. The ketubah detailed the manner in which the groom would support his bride during their marriage, as well as what she would receive upon the dissolution of their marriage by death or divorce. Although today, these concepts may strike us as lacking romantic spirit (or being somewhat backward), the ketubah was actually very advanced for its time. It was the Jewish people's recognition of a woman's rights and need for financial protection.

The traditional ketubah text has remained basically unchanged for centuries, and it is the text utilized at Orthodox weddings. The Conservative movement added a clause, known as the Lieberman Clause, to the traditional Aramaic text that requires a husband to grant his wife a religious divorce upon obtaining a civil divorce. (This makes it possible for each party to remarry under Jewish law.)

Today's Reform movement typically does not use the traditional text. Instead, Reform texts reflect the movement's more equal treatment of men and women and incorporate mutual affirmations and promises. Reform texts do not qualify as legal documents but, rather, serve more as a statement of the couple's vows to each other.

The concept of hiddur mitzvah requires that objects used to fulfill a commandment be made as beautifully as possible. The first illuminated ketubah dates to the 10th century C.E. Today, ketubot can be hand-painted works, lithographs, papercuts or giclée prints, such as ours.

It is important to note: Although Orthodox and Conservative texts are legal documents under Jewish law, a couple will also need to obtain a civil marriage license from the state in which they plan to be married. You should check with your local clerk of courts to obtain this license. (In many states, there are waiting periods and blood tests, so be sure to leave plenty of time before your wedding to obtain your license!)

 

 

Q. How do you print ketubot?

A. Each ketubah we make is printed in-house for the client who ordered it and under strict quality standards. (Remember, the co-owner of MP Artworks is an artist himself!)

Our ketubot are limited-edition giclée prints, produced with archival, pigmented inks on 100% cotton, acid-free paper. Our printing media are continually upgraded as advancements are made, thus ensuring the most beautiful and enduring prints.

Each ketubah is considered a work of fine art and, if cared for like any other piece of fine art, should last indefinitely.

 

 

Q. What is a “giclée” print?

A. Giclée printing is a relatively new process of producing limited-edition, fine art prints.

The word "giclée" (pronounced "zhee-clay") originates from a French term meaning "to spray," alluding to the technology used for giclée printing, during which special inks are "sprayed" onto art paper or canvas.

The term was originally coined by a few printing companies in the early 1990s that used the IRIS printer to make fine art reproductions. They wanted a term to distinguish their fine art printing from other companies that used the IRIS for other types of commercial printing.

Currently, the term giclée also includes fine art reproductions made on other high-quality digital printers that are similar both in function and in print quality.

 

 

Q. How do giclée prints compare to lithographs?

A. Giclée printing differs from lithography in the mechanical aspects of the printing process itself, but the end results are basically the same -- ink on paper. Both processes allow for artists to reproduce their works in print form, no matter what original medium was used.

The greatest difference between the two printing processes can be the economics of each. Due to the time-consuming and costly setup of a lithographic press, many prints must be made at one time to offset the front-end costs. Although giclée prints cost more to print per piece, there is virtually no set up. Printing 100 prints or 1,000 prints is no more economical than printing one print. (As a result, printing each ketubah “to order” -- as we do -- is possible.)

Both printing processes run the same gamut, as far as archival quality is concerned. Most dye-based inks only last a few years before noticeable fading occurs -- even when printed on archival paper. (Pigmented inks may last more than 100 years before noticeable fading occurs -- even when printed on cheap paper.) The types of paper and ink used, in either printing process, are the factors that have the greatest effect on the beauty and archival quality of the finished print.

Note: All references made to lithography above refer to the modern, mechanical method of fine art reproduction and not traditional lithographs. (Traditional lithographs are produced by an artist by creating part of a drawing on a stone with a wax stick, applying ink to the stone and then pressing the stone onto a piece of paper for each color desired.) This traditional method of printing is an art form, itself, and creates multiple, original works of art, whereas modern lithography is a method of reproducing works of art originally produced using other media, as is giclée printing.

 

 

Q. What materials do you use to print ketubot?

A. All of our ketubot are printed with pigmented inks on archival-quality, 100% cotton, and acid-free paper. It has a wonderful texture and brilliantly displays the colors of our ketubot.

 

 

Q. What is a limited-edition ketubah print?

A. All of our ketubot are printed in editions, which means they are limited in quantity. Thus, only so many couples will have the same ketubah design as yours, a situation that increases the value of your work of art.

The size of the edition is noted on each ketubah design’s “detail” page, along with the price and dimensions of each work. Our editions are generally limited to runs between 80 and 350 prints. As with other fine art, the fewer the prints in an edition, the greater the value of the art.

One of the most important points about limited editions at MP Artworks is the way we count our runs without regard to text. For example, if we tell you that a design is limited to an edition of 350 prints, then upon the edition selling out, only 350 couples (TOTAL!) will own that design, regardless of which text each couple chose.

 

 

Q. What type of pen do we use to sign our ketubah?

A. We recommend a Sharpie Fine Point Pen for fine art paper ketubahs and a Sharpie Extra Fine Point Marker for canvas ketubahs. You can purchase these at most office supply stores, or you can order one from us as you go through the checkout process.

If you want to sign in a color other than black a good option is Sakura Gelly Roll pens, which can be found at art supply stores. The drawback to these pens are that they clog easily on the fine art paper, and we do not recommend them for canvas. They are archival and come in an array of colors. If you choose to use these pens, we recommend you purchase two or three of them and test them out before you use them to sign your ketubah.

 

 
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