Tamara Baskin had magical hands. From her earliest days on a kibbutz in Israel until she moved to the States to launch her artistic career, everything Baskin touched, turned elegant.
“In the 1980s she started doing dry flowers, which were really popular then. She quickly made it into Linens N’ Things – she had all of these big accounts,” recalls her son, Ilan. “She always did artwork. I remember as a kid working in the garage, my dad would go up the street and cut down a big tree and we would put a mirror in it. I would use a handsaw to cut wooden tulips to put in the flower arrangements.”
In the mid-90s, Baskin’s career really ignited. Then, she started working with fused glass. She secured her rep by promising she would make glass mezuzot. That one mezuzah became the start of a flourishing career in must-have Judaica. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former New York City Mayor Rudi Giuliani both have Tamara Baskin menorahs.
“She was the creative person,” Ilan Baskin says.
Unfortunately, tragedy stuck in 2007 when Baskin died of cancer. However, her son has taken over the company. He’s stuck on his mother’s brand, recruiting artists who can help emulate Baskin’s artistic story. The art continues to be classy yet functional, designed to celebrate Jewish life cycles.
“Her legacy is carried on by our commitment to build and expand on classic designs and techniques my mother made so popular,” says Ilan Baskin.
Ilan Baskin, an artist himself, has added a personal flare. He focuses on using made-in-the-U.S. materials, on new items done in glass paint and on a jewelry line scheduled to come out in the coming months.
“There is so much effort and warmth put into each piece. They all have meaning – and that meaning is deep, expanding generations,” says Ilan Baskin. “It’s a lot of heart and soul.”
He continues: “Each piece is an extension of ourselves, the artists. People should appreciate the handmade art – it is not made in China. These are pieces that will last a lifetime.”
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