Ruth Shapiro



Ruth Shapiro is an acclaimed metal artist who makes handmade bronze mezuzah cases using the “lost wax” technique. Her mezuzah cases are stunning and you should look at them on her Ruth Shapiro store on Etsy. I own two of her mezuzah cases shown in the photos below.

A Letter from Ruth: "Dear Friends, Let me tell you a little about myself so that you may understand my art. In addition to being a Judaic artist, I work as a part-time nursing consultant in the legal field. (I have been a registered nurse since 1970.) In 1981, I had a serious accident that left me unable to continue nursing at my previous pace. In 1984, I went to UCLA to take a nursing course but was unable to get into the class I wanted. I next went to Santa Monica Community College to see if they had a similar course, but was instead drawn to a course called "Lost Wax Casting" in the adult evening school. I didn't have any idea what the subject was, but signed up anyway. Those six classes changed my life! I was hooked on this very old, exciting method of sculpture and jewelry-making. At the same time, I had joined the Pomegranate Guild of Judaic Needlework, again a strange choice for me. While I'd always liked embroidery and knitting, etc., I'd also hated meetings and anything so sedentary and slow as a sewing circle! Well, the rich symbolism and visual stories I saw at the meetings fused with my new metal-working skills, and my first mezuzzah cases were made and sold in only a few weeks. Demand grew, and I was pulled along at a furious pace. I had to pull up any vestiges left of my Jewish education, and furiously read everything I could find, always just a step ahead of (or behind) the next project, from mezuzzah to yad, to menorah to Torah breastplate. I took a few adult school jewelry classes, and added contemporary jewelry to my repertoire. I’ve taken many workshops in the last two years, learning more metalworking techniques from reknowned artists, but, always, Judaica has been my love. In 1988, I went to Israel to learn techniques from some silver masters, and to enhance my spiritual development. My work has taken me to shows and exhibits all over the United Sates. My mezuzot are in Israel and Canada as well. A yad of mine even went into space! Until a few years ago, I always felt that I'd ride the wave as far as it took me; that I was somehow supposed to be a Judaic artist. I would keep at it as long as I could keep creating and keep selling. Just as I would start to think about other career directions, a new commission would appear. Just as I think I'll never have another fresh idea, a dream supplies me with a new mezuzah and a new technique. Do I think these events are divinely created? Of course I do! In the last year, I've come to believe that I will never be "barren." I also don't harbor any beliefs in my own talent. I believe that I am a vessel, and the spirit of God and creativity flow through the vessel, stay awhile, and move on. I just have to be there and be ready and open. In the past 15 years as a Judaic artist, my life has dealt me a few curves and twists. A car accident here, a broken wrist there, a few illnesses. Each time, I made some adaptations in my work. Each time, my work grew in a new, unexpected and better direction. Each time, I learned some thing I might not have otherwise seen. Was this bashert? Has my work made me more religious? Yes it has. I now collect the work of other Judaic artists. Their spirituality enriches mine. The more I learn in preparing for a project, the more deeply I feel for my religion, and the more I pass it on to my family. I now celebrate Shabbat, and become anxious to create anew. When I feel close to God, I pray. Only in my case, I pray with my hammer, my torch, and my sculptor's tools. I feel it is a very special gift and privilege to be able to create decorations for the Torah. I was moved to tears the first time I saw a yod that I had made, hung on the Torah. The rabbi talked about the rich tradition of the Torah and the silversmiths who adorned them. He talked about the generations of Jews who would be proud to display them. (This in no way implies that the adornments are as important as what they adorn.) Sincerely, Ruth"