A new eco-friendly clergy stole for Ordinary Time!

We've been following the work of Thread International for years. Partly because they work in Haiti and partly because we are always on the look out for fabrics that are created in a sustainable manor ... it's our little way of honoring creation. As an experiment we ordered some of Thread's blue denim that is made from recycled bottles in Haiti by Haitians. This isn't our normal base fabric type or color but our creative  spirit seemed up to the challenge.


First we "auditioned" green fabrics that would become the appliquéd symbols for this Ordinary Time stole.


Deciding to edge all of the leaves with the same gold thread helped visually connect the images and tied them into the gold cross on the stole's chest.

628 detail 3.jpg

Finally adding a vibrant green backing capped off this unique stole and made it ready to make a visual connection to the Word in worship. We were thinking of 1 Corinthians 3:6 when creating this piece. The scripture and the symbols are good reminders of how we are to grow. 

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow."

628 detail 4.jpg

Pretzels for Lent -- A Visual Reminder

The pretzel is a very ancient bakery item, which traditionally was eaten only during Lent. It appeared each year on Ash Wednesday and disappeared on Good Friday. It goes back at least to the fifth century; thinner is a Roman manuscript in the Vatican Library dating from that period which show a Lenten pretzel. As to the shape:  it is made in the form of tow arms crossed in prayer. The word bracellae, "little arms," became in German Bretzel, then Pretzel. These early Christians ate no dairy products in Lent, so the pretzel was made only of flour, salt and water: it was as simple as it could be.


You can ponder this while eating a store bought pretzel and looking over the ideas for using pretzels during Lent on our Pinterest page OR you can gather a group of friends and make your own following this recipe...

1 T. honey or sugar
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 envelop active dry yeast
1 t. salt
4 c. flour
coarse or kosher salt
1 egg, beaten

Add the honey to the water; sprinkle in the yeast and still until dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Blend in the flour, and knead the dough until smooth.

Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. You can make small pretzels with thin rope, or large ones with fat ropes, but remember that to cook at the same rate, our pretzels need to be all the same size.

Place the pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes until the pretzels are golden brown.


Lent Wall Art: The Pelican

Curious about our process? Here is a glimpse of how our new collage wall art came together. See it in finished here on Etsy!

 Preparing the fabric for the crown of thorns.

Preparing the fabric for the crown of thorns.

 Adding words and background texture.

Adding words and background texture.

 Stitching with varigated threads.

Stitching with varigated threads.

 Adding details with textile paint. 

Adding details with textile paint. 

 The finished product in place (situ). 

The finished product in place (situ). 

 The finished work! It's on Etsy!  Click here !

The finished work! It's on Etsy! Click here!

Working in a Series: The Sheep

Sometimes one idea in the studio builds upon another. That becomes a series and our latest endeavors  have been inspired by sheep and learning about Biblical shepherd imagery. Some of this resulted in items for Christmas! You may see the stole here and the parament/banner here

515 detail 3.jpg

This summer we found a unique piece of fabric that gradated from cream to blush and had a border of vibrant green. And it was dotted with tiny bits of metallic gold! We were excited to buy a small piece to experiment with and pondered the usage for several months. The result is this one of a kind "sheep" themed stole in our Ordinary Time collection. Inspired by John 10:11-18 this cream colored stole depicts the joy of the knowledge that we have a Good Shepherd. He knows us and laid down his life for US! This is life giving and we can rejoice. The chest is embellished with a shepherd's cross. See it in full here. 

619 detail 4.jpg

Looking for an "Elf on the Shelf" alternative to recommend to your young families? Keeping with the sheep theme of this newsletter, how about the "Shepherd's Treasure"as a faith based alternative? Too late? File it away for next year!

*we have no affiliation with this company

We hope the whimsical style of the sheep make you smile and that they help you make a visual connection to the story of our faith to those that you minister to. 

Ministry Stoles: Using new techniques

It's artistically stimulating for us to experiment with new to us techniques and equipment. We recently revised mono-printing with a commercial printing plate called a gelli pate.

First we gathered our supplies. That's the gelli plate in the top left picture. Acrylic paints, stencils, stamps, things to press into the paint and brayers rounded out the gear.


After printing the fabrics we arranged them like a collage artist would do with papers. 

Image 2.jpg

Adding details of overlapping fabrics and hand stitching was super fun.


And we ended up with this finished product! Read more about it on "peace and healing" stole collection on our website here.


This took us back to several years ago when we did mono printing off of a homemade gelatin block. I recently dug into that fabric stash and put together this lively table runner. It's in our Etsy shop here!


Mono-printing is instantly gratifying. We're pleased with the results and hope to do more of this in the future!

Outside the Studio: Art Prize

After living in Michigan for three years we finally found our way to Grand Rapids for Art Prize. It was wonderful to witness this international art competition that weaves in and out of the majority of the city. It is the most attended art event in the world and what we'd deem to be a happy, thought provoking, family friendly event.


We were smitten to find a variety of participatory works of art. This is a wonderful way to draw the viewer into the experience. And we think this should/could be applied to art in faith based settings. For example the below "Let Go" by Pamela Alderman spoke of the ebb and flow that eventually brings us to healing. Viewers were invited to write about the healing process or what gives them hope on a small piece of tissue paper. They were then instructed to crumble it and throw it into the waves for it to be symbolically carried out to sea.


Art Prize venues include sidewalks, restaurants, hotels, and among other things churches. For example this sculpture, "Trees Will Clap" by Dave Vander Molen was outside St. Marks Episcopal. It is based upon Isaiah 55:12 and combined the visual with the 'clapping' sound of the leaves that symbolized harmony and unity.

We appreciated this tribute to aging and community. It is made out of corrugated cardboard. It is by Warren King and is titled Grandfather's Friend and Arrival Times.


And we even know one of the exhibiting artists! Here is our friend Lauren's work. I appreciated the mood that the artist created with the colors and brushstrokes. And remarkably she's only been painting for a short time! 


I enjoyed leaving a little Carrot Top Studio logo on the public art wall. Maybe another time there will be a more official entry into Art Prize from this studio. Stay tuned! 


What's With the Flying Geese?

Our thinking about and creating with the symbolism of flying geese started with a request from a client and this image on an Ordination stole. But what does it mean?

You've probably observed geese flying in a V formation. By doing this the goose in front creates uplift for the one behind. This allows for much greater flying range for the entire group. Community is a good thing for geese and for us!

And then there is the bit of when the lead goose gets tired he falls to the back and another takes over as leader. Similar to what we learn from Ephesians 4:16 ... "From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."


How about all the squawking we here from a group of geese? That's reportedly encouragement! I have a friend from elementary Sunday School days. She's a great encourager. I especially appreciated how she always knew when to call me when my Dad was so sick with cancer. This spring it was her mom who was ill and I tried to be reciprocal with my own kind of squawking.

But encourage each other, day after day... (Hebrews 3:13)


So we've carried on the flying geese imagery into our recent work. This time we adapted a traditional quilt block. We stumbled upon a historical use of this block on a recent bike ride in our hometown of Detroit. This is a sculpture honoring the underground railroad and the use of the flying geese patch as a hidden message that those looking for freedom were on the right path. 

Here are snippets of our Carrot Top Studio flying geese latest creations. They include a full length stole, a short chaplain's stole and a table runner. Whether the flying geese are full of hidden messages or something that is loud and clear we hope there is something in this collection for everyone!

Inspiring Time in New Orleans

Inspiration strikes in so many places. We were recently blessed with a long weekend in New Orleans where the inspiration seemed to be around every corner! What a vibrant, spirit filled city! We visited the oldest Catholic church in the country. it's history reflects all the different countries that have influenced this area. How about this beautiful anchor cross (right)? The symbol of hope is so appropriate for this city!

Additionally, music was around every corner. I actually don't know if I've ever experienced a place where the music was literally everywhere! What a joyful noise!

We took time to tour the Presbytere Louisiana State Museum. The exhibit "Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond" was informative and sobering. We learned so much more than what we recalled from watching the news from a distance when Katrina hit. It was very powerful and really made us think about the spirit of resilliance. 

Although the entire exhibit was powerful and educational, the entryway really struck a chord. Hundreds of 'floating' glass bottles hang from the ceiling. They have messages curled up inside them. The artist, Mitchell Gaudet wants the viewer to feel as if they are bobbing up and down in the water. The bottles are protective vessels (of the messages) representing all of those that were touched by the water after Katrina. The bottles are interspersed with hands to represent the helpers. 

The magnolias were in bloom while we were visiting. These were yet another reminder of life as the blossoms screamed "look at the new growth" .... "it's beautiful!"

So upon our return we created a stole that encompasses some of these thoughts and impressions.  The new Ordinary Time stole in full, here! Here's a small detail--

Lent 2017: What We're Reading

I often have several books going at once and this Lent is no different. Here's what we're reading --

This Lent devotional/journal has been thought provoking. It's taken me to some places that aren't always comfortable. I appreciate that. And isn't that cover a lovely image? You can buy the art here

Pondering the art and writings in Lenten Meditations by James B. Janknegt has been a nice addition to my day. It uses Jesus's parables and I suspect it is a book I will return to over and over as the art is especially rich. 

And lastly my Bible study is working it's way through The Psalms for Today by Beth La Neel Tanner.  It's wasn't written specifically for Lent but I'm finding the understanding who God is through the Psalmist to be very fitting for a Lenten journey. And I must add that the questions at the end of each chapter are providing for good discussion.

100 Day Project

A new calendar year usually causes me to evaluate or try something new. This year I'm trying the 100 day project that is popular with creative types. It's defined as:

It's a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it's not about fetishizing finished products—it's about the process.


To stretch my technical skills and establish a new rhythm in my creative life I will be using Tula Pink's City book 100 Modern Quilt Blocks.  Hopefully I will become a more accrue piecer as I follow along with the author's directions to make 100 6 1/2" square quilt blocks. My two self imposed rules are to first use only fabric scraps from my stash and to use only warm colors. The color rule is only so that if I want to turn the blocks into a quilt there will be some cohesiveness based on the color theory.

Maybe you'll recognize some stole fabrics in these! Here are my first three blocks: 

The book is organized into shape collections such as squares, and triangles. The first section is crosses. Maybe some of these patterns will find their way into my Carrot Top Studio work too! Watch our Instagram and Facebook pages for updates as the days roll by!.