This new stole design embraces the brightness of the sunflower symbol. It's in our peace and healing collection but we think it also could be worn for joyful occasions or during Ordinary Time. When a stole is this versatile we consider it to by a good buy! Read the full descriptioee it in full here.
For the fourth time Carrot Top Studio has been asked to create the moderator stole for the PCUSA General Assembly. The stole traditionally depicts the host city for the General Assembly, the seal of the denomination and a visual connection to the General Assembly theme. It's always a fun creative challenge for us!
The Office of the General Assembly presents each new moderator with a stole to mark their moderatorial office which is kept by the moderator as a witness of their ministry after the term is completed.
The prominent features in this year's design are a fleur-de-lis which calls attention to the French background of the early city of St. Louis. Additionally, the water lines are a symbol for growth. The convergence of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers allowed for growth of our nation. Lastly, the representational people surrounding the cross reminds us of the Church working together called to be a witness.
On the back tip, which joins the two branches of the stole, a dove descends as the traditional symbol of the Holy Spirit. The images harmoniously offer a message of the 223rd General Assembly, “Renewing the Vision: Kindom building for the 21st century.”
The stole is a visible symbol that the Moderator and the commissioners are the continuing community of the 223rd General Assembly until the 224th assembly convenes. We wish many blessings to the newly elected co-moderators Rev. Cindy Kohlman and Ruling Elder Vimarie Cintron-Olivieri. (photo cred. Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace)
My head spins when creating for Ordinary Time. There are just so many visual directions to turn when making a connection to the Word for this part of the Church year. We're in the midst of using this collection of skin tone fabrics to illustrate Psalm 47:1 ....
We got this far ...
And then we spied these beautiful green batiks in a stash and started dreaming of the stole they would become! That's a sign we've been in the studio long enough today. Stay tuned to teh finished results of both of these projects.
I'm thoroughly enjoying painting a little bit everyday as I participate in The 100 Day Project. You can read our first blog post about this here. It has been helpful to focus on a theme each week. Completing a pictorial alphabet about myself was an especially fun week. Each day I added 5 or so letters with a little graphic of something that is a favorite in my life. There is the result....
We are not sure where this renewed interest in painting and drawing is leading us. But for now if you want to follow along we are CarrotTopStudio on Instagram or use #100daysofpaintedpages or #carrottopstudioart. Thanks!
Usually you can find me painting fabric for stoles for Carrot Top Studio or painting on paper for my #100dayproject (#100DaysOfPaintedPages on Instagram) but ten days ago I was painting really large walls in Puerto Rico. While on a mission trip with my church we spent two days at Hogar de Ninos: Regazo de Paz. This special home cares for up to 15 children that have been abused. They focus on love and repairing the whole child. Their ministry is wrapped in prayer and we were honored to brighten up their exterior and playground with new paint.
A surprise was meeting a Carrot Top Studio client who saw the location of our painting in a Facebook post and stopped by to check it out! How cool is that? A year before Rev. Danilie C. Hilerio Villanueva was to be ordained she had a vision for a stole that reflected her much loved Puerto Rico. It was wonderful to have the images we created come to life as I experienced this beautiful part of God's creation.
With wonderful hospitality we lodged at Camp el Guacio in San Sabastian. It is a Presbyterian church camp and conference center that has a long, vibrant history on the island but has also physically seen better days. To help revamp their facilities we took on the clean up of three cabins. The photo above is of part of the group removing a bunk bed that would have it's metal scraped and the plywood supports saved for window coverings for the next hurricane. You can see that we were in the mountains .... it was so lush and beautiful despite that storm rolling in.
One evening we had the privilege of hearing the camp director's story that centered on the hurricane. Her first summer was just prior to hurricane Maria in September 2017. We learned how God helped her prepare the camp that summer in ways that she didn't understand until after the fact. After the hurricane the camp was (in general) left in much better shape than the entire region. Camp director, Wilmari Vargas quickly saw God's provision to allow her to open the camp gates to help those in the greatest need. For months the camp supplied shelter, power (via a generator), washers and dryers, free ice and a center for community resourcing. This is the very short version of the story, but I am still thinking daily about how this one woman's faith and openness for God to use her continues to impact those that are in recovery mode. Listening to and working with Wilmari has certainly left an impression on me.
At the base of the camp is the PCUSA church Iglesia Presbiterians El Guacio. They welcomed us with open arms for their prayer service on Thursday night. It's always a joy to worship as one despite our language disparity. Our group sung The Doxology as an offering of gratitude to God and the community we were in.
On our last day we were able to tour the Western part of the island and engage in conversations about hurricane survival and continued efforts of recovery. We saw much physical destruction, witnessed families still living in public schools, talked to people that still didn't have electricity in their homes, stumbled upon the National Guard handing out water to a line of cars, and heard stories of the people that became 'the helpers' after the hurricane. This was quite a powerful day but the icing on the cake was the infectious happy spirit of everyone we came across.
As typical of our travels we work out some of what we experience in our art. We have a Puerto Rico stole in the works. This is the base fabric. The gradations of happy blue to green is perfect to capture the land and sea and lovely personalities we got to know. Watch our Facebook, Instagram and eNews for the completed stole announcement! UPDATE: see the finished stole here!
I tend to make personal goals when the seasons change not on New Year's Eve. As the cool weather of fall blew in I felt called to start drawing and painting more often. This is what I did in high school and college and as much as I love, love, love working with fabric and sewing the pencil and paintbrush are clearly also part of who I am.
So I pulled out the sketchbook and starting drawing. I focused on a theme on each page and tried to draw as often as I could! This is a little bit of what happened...
I'm also the kind of person that needs systems to help hold me accountable. Is that why I like the rhythm and routine of the Church year calendar so much? Anyway, I signed up for an online illustration class through Sketchbook Skool (that's correctly spelled :)). It was project orientated so we worked on designing a piece for the studio. Maybe you'll see the results in your mailbox someday. Until then here's a little bit of the process I walked through.
Now that I'm in the habit of drawing again I'm joining the #100DayProject. This endeavor has an official online community but is a free, global art project that anyone can participate in. If you want to follow along my tag is #100DaysOfPaintedPages. Using #CarrotTopStudioArt will do it also! I know it usually takes 21 days to make a habit. I'm wondering how i'll do with a 100 day habit? I am going to rest on Sunday's so it will actually be a bit longer than 100 days. I thought coffee was a good start and below is my painting for day #1. I'll let you know how it all ends. Follow us on Instagram and Twitter. Until then, see you later!
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.
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."
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.
This week we're reducing our inventory via auctions on eBay! This will allow room on the website for new clergy stole designs. See the auctions here. They all close the evening of Thursday, March 1, 2018
Artistically it is very gratifying for us to work in a series. That's what we are doing when we focus on one season of the liturgical church year such as Lent. See our in stock stoles here to understand how we visualized the Lenten journey this year.
Haven't I told you our clients have the best ideas? Our Mothering Sunday stoles came to be because of a client explaining the tradition of his church in the United Kingdom. Mother's and children are honored on this day celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent with particular focus on a mother's love. Like Mother's Day in the United States the meaning of the tradition has changed and morphed over the years. Regardless of that my client explained the use of daffodils on this day and says it gives a brief pause in the solemnity of the Lenten season.
It's interesting to note that in other countries this tradition is called Refreshment Sunday, Pudding Pie Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday, Simnel Sunday and Rose Sunday. In our response to our client's needs we created a purple stole for Lent with daffodils. But we loved the idea so much we translated the imagery onto a white stole that would be suitable for the season of Easter or if your congregation honors Mother's Day in May. And good news for our clients ... these stoles are currently on sale! See the purple stole here and the white version here.
And isn't it fitting that the daffodil that is a sign of rebirth and beginnings is the flower used in connection with these days in our church life? Some people even call them a Lent lily. So there's your little interesting fact for the day!
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.
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.
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!
Since moving to Michigan three years ago we've been hearing about the beauty of this state's Upper Peninsula and we finally made time to visit. I anticipated being awed by the abundance and variety of trees. And that was true! What surprised me was the water. From large to small lakes, rivers, creeks, and waterfalls the water was inspiring to hear, touch, admire the clarity, and view so many different colors. For example, this photo is from Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The amber color of the water is derived from the tannins in the surrounding trees. The sound of it dropping over the 50 foot fall was powerful. And the patterns the foam made in the water recalled marbleized paper ... our Creator the artist at it again!
Many world religions celebrate the symbol of water. Christians use water in four different ways:
- to recall birth,
- to evoke death,
- to typify renewal,
- and to suggest washing.
Gail Ramshaw points out in her book Treasures Old and New, that water also functions as a symbol of one another in the church. Filled with the Spirit, we nourish one another. "We are a cup of water for one another ... Christ the water, incarnating God's water of creation, flows continuously in the Spirit, who waters the believers, who themselves become the spring of living water in the world."
Often when we are able to step outside the studio we are inspired to create. If you hadn't guessed already, we're working on a water themed stole. You can watch it's progress on Instagram or see the announcement of it's completion on Facebook. We aim to have it on the website next week!
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!
One thing led to another.
First a stole was purchased through our online stole. Several years later, upon ministering at a new church, a commission was entered into led by this same pastor. This project included stoles, Communion table cloths and paraments for the pulpit/lectern. The process became a collaboration as the Church year rolled along. With each new season we emailed back and forth our ideas, sketches and fabric swatches until a plan was ready to be executed in our Michigan studio.
Just when we were mourning the end of the year long work we were thrilled to receive a request for a new piece of fiber art for the pastor's study. The parameters were to first have it fit a 46 x 56" space. Secondly the pastor thought maybe the rich illuminations of the St. John's Bible would be able to provide inspiration. We did some cartwheels at this news and dug in to make plans!
The resulting piece (above) has a creation theme based on the words in the book of Genesis. The use of batik fabrics add depth to the work. The story art is told through appliquéd images and symbols and is accented by sheer fabrics, metallic textile paint and free motion embroidery details. The finishing touch was the machine quilting done by Jane Clark of Jane Quilts. The wavy quilt lines move from open/fluid to tight/closed to add to the energy of the creation story.
As we recently traveled to a mini-vacation on the east coast we were passing by the pastor's church so had the honor of unveiling the work face to face. This is a rare treat and it was wonderful to be able to talk about the art and see it in situ.
Image description, left to right:
- heaven and earth/light and dark
- sky and sea
- land and vegetation
- stars and moon
- life in water and birds
- creatures on dry land, and
This spring, while in New Orleans, we took a side trip to Avery Island. The tour of how Tabasco Sauce is made was really interesting and we enjoyed the tasting afterward. Who knew that Tabasco flavored soft serve ice cream would taste so good?! Then we hopped in the car and roamed around the 170-acre garden with semitropical foliage while watching out for the sunbathing alligators that lined the Bayou Petite Anse. We were especially delighted encounter a rookery that was home to 1000's of snowy egrets. I could have watched them all day! As we walked back to the car seeing a feather on the ground reminded me of Psalm 91:3-5 --
Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
Back in the studio we have created a series of work embellished with feathers as a reminder that God is shelter and a refuge when we are afraid. The psalmist likens God to a mother bird who protects her young. Isn't it wonderful that we can entrust ourselves to his protection?