Ellen Miller Braun
Ellen Miller Braun was born in the United States and now lives in Israel. She trained in Fine Art and began as a textile artist. Ellen now works as a micro-calligraphist working with traditional Hebrew texts, using water color paints rather than black ink to create her pictures.
Ellen Miller Braun, a micro calligraphist, was born and grew up in Chicago. She went to Northeastern Illinois University where she graduated in Fine Art. In 1983, because she and her husband were both religiously observant and Zionist, they decided to make aliyah to Israel with their family. They now live in Ginot Shomron. Ellen first developed her artistic reputation creating soft sculptures of political, Biblical and Chassidic figures. Later, after she had adjusted to living in Israel Ellen Miller Braun began to take an interest in micro-calligraphy. By 1999 she began to produce her own work.
Micro-calligraphy is a unique Jewish art form. It developed because Jews traditionally didn’t produce representational pictures as it was seen to go against the commandment ‘do not make graven images’. Instead, from the 9th century (CE) onwards, artists and scribes developed a form of microscopic writing where words would create the pictures. For example the words of the Book of Ruth can be written in such a way as to create a picture of Ruth in the field gleaning the wheat. The text was normally left plain so that the image was in black and white. More recently the pictures are often given a wash of water color paint to make them more attractive, and to emphasize the design.
 Braun’s Technique
Ellen has developed a technique of her own. She uses a normal calligraphy pen with watercolor paint, instead of black ink to make her pictures with the Hebrew letters. In addition Braun uses gematrias, a Hebrew form of numerology, to help her lay out her design. Once she has sketched her drawing, she then etches lines onto the paper that she can easily follow with her pen. This work is painstaking and depending on the complexity can take anything up to a year to create. The resulting image sees both the picture and the text entwine in one seamless whole.
Ellen Miller Braun’s micro-calligraphy pictures cover all aspects of Jewish life, from Biblical texts and the Blessings after Meals, to the Hatikva – the National Anthem of the State of Israel. In some of her latest work Braun combines painted fabric, embroidery and micro-calligraphy to create individual textile pieces. Apart from her original pieces, Ellen Miller Braun produces fine art prints of her work in limited edition and unlimited editions, which are available online.