Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 4, 2012.

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Students, craftsmen and artists working together to rebuild the Gwozdziec Synagogue destroyed by the Nazis during World War II.

Thank you! Your donations will now make it possible for our crew to film the Gwoździec synagogue replication project starting in May.

In the course of World War II, an entire class of architecture was obliterated: the elaborate and sophisticated wooden synagogues of Poland. Not a single example of these remarkable structures survived the torches.

Now one of these synagogues is rising from the ashes. An international team of students and professionals is recreating the most prominent features of the Gwoździec synagogue—the timber-framed roof (above) and elaborately painted ceiling panels (below)—using historically accurate materials and methods.

Documenting this project started last summer 2011 and will continue this summer and fall 2012.

THE PROJECT AND THE FILM

The Gwoździec Synagogue documentary will follow the extraordinary detectives who are trying to recover the knowledge of how to build wooden synagogues. How can 80 year old, two-dimensional photographs—the primary record of these synagogues—be translated into three-dimensional joints, beams, roofs, and panels? How can the vivid colors of mythical animal and floral interior painting be recreated from black-and-white images? What kind of pigments were used and where did they come from?

Our film trailer made from footage shot during the summer of 2011.

Committed to using tools, techniques, and materials that were available when the synagogue was built centuries ago, the team will carry out a reconstruction that will represent a unique hands-on approach to understanding history.

The story began in the forests of Poland, where trees were felled to provide the raw logs for construction. Then at an outdoor ethnographic museum, highly skilled timber framers and students from around the world converted over 200 logs to timbers and assembled an 85%-scale model of the Gwoździec synagogue's roof.

Next, artists and students started recreating the synagogue's ornate painted ceiling panels. This summer, in the five locations across Poland, the painting of the panels will be completed and the entire structure readied for installation.

Students from the US, Israel and Poland will work shoulder to shoulder with master craftspeople during the timber-framing and painting phases. The stories of their conflicts, frustrations, and triumphs will be part of the film. Several members will become key characters of the film, joining Rick and Laura Brown, the masterminds of the project. Founders of Handshouse Studio, the Browns are both faculty in the sculpture department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt).

Within the dramatic arc will be scenes of the international team of workers struggling to master strange, ancient tools and overcome the challenges posed by finicky, raw materials. Adding to the pressure will be the looming completion deadline and the workers’ exacting standards of artistic excellence and historical accuracy.

Never far from anyone’s mind is the question about who actually created these architectural wonders 300 years ago. And then, who destroyed them. As team members seek out residents with living memory of the events of World War II, the film will provide the context of Poland’s past as home to the largest population of Jews before World War II and then as the center of Nazi death camps.

The final stage of the project will be re-assembling the roof and ceiling panels inside Warsaw’s forthcoming Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The finished creation will be dramatically suspended from the ceiling to allow full view of both the vaulted interior ceiling as well as the complex framing and joinery of the supporting roof structure.

The Museum is currently under construction on the hallowed ground of Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto. Its opening in 2013 will be a major international cultural event. When the Museum’s doors open, the world will experience for the first time in 70 years the full splendor of this lost architecture.

To learn more, go to http://www.handshousestudio.org/

THE FILMMAKERS

This film is a co-production of award winning John Rubin Productions, Inc. and Trillium Studios.

Please help us send our film crew to Poland to complete this documentary! The film is vital to preserving the story of this historic reconstruction.

Your funds will go towards sending our film crew to Poland to shoot the Summer 2012 ceiling painting sessions, interviews with participants and the installation of the roof structure in the new Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

ALL-OR-NOTHING FUNDING

Every Kickstarter project must be fully funded before its time expires or no money changes hands.

Handshouse Studio is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Your contribution is tax-deductible. 

Thanks for your support!

YOUR REWARD

You could receive any one or more of our wonderful rewards made by the artists and crafts people working on the Gwoździec synagogue replication:

a hand painted thank-you postcard signed by an artist on location.…

an archival 8" x 8" print of an elaborately painted panel…

a hand hewn wooden peg placed into the ceiling framework in your honor…

a copy of Resplendent Synagogue by Thomas Hubka, our project scholar…

and an invitation to the opening of the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.

FAQ

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