A Commisisoned Clergy stole

A client wrote to us: I have a flannel shirt that belonged to my grandfather (he died 35 years ago but I kept the shirt because he is wearing it in my favorite pictures of him). If I sent it to you, could you somehow incorporate the fabric into a stole?

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We received the stole and found this lovely bit of mending on the elbow. Our client reported that this was probably the work of her grandmother and yes we could incorporate it into the design! Additionally we found a patch inside one cuff and some gold satin lining behind the shoulders that could be used.

The client graciously added in her notes: No rush. Let the Spirit move you; after all, it’s been in my closet since his death in 1983.........!!

We next shared the following fabric combinations and the sketch with a cost estimate and timeline for the work.

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After receiving a green light from our client and having a bit of time to actually create the work we were able to send this stole on it’s way. These kinds of commissions are such a privilege to be able to do. Thank you for trusting Carrot Top Studio with this work!


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And So Forth... because one thing led to another!

We've been watching the trends of mindful (hand) stitching and decorative mending evolve in the world of those that sew. It's happening on quilts, clothing and accessories. We saw a great example of this while in Madison, WI this summer. Here is a detail from the exhibit by artist Heidi Parkes at Blue Bar Quilts. 

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Then a client sent us her grandfather's flannel shirt with the proposition of honoring this special someone in her life by incorporating the shirt fabric into a stole. Upon thinking about the commission and examining the shirt we discovered some visible hand stitching that had been used to mend the well worn shirt. Now we're incorporating this touch of the client's grandmother's hands into the stole also. What an honor it is to take on this commission!

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And that led us to our latest addition to our Christmas stole collection. We think this prototype is a start of additional hand stitching on our stoles. The more we conjured the design of this stole we grew attached to the thought of God mending us and the world through Jesus. See how the pictured details of the stole were incorporated into the entire design here.

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A Commission for an Installation clergy stole

It’s always extra special to create for someone I know personally and recently that was the case. My own faith community was kind enough to request a stole for the Installation of one of our pastors. The final product wasn’t revealed until Installation worship but this pastor and I worked together to create the design. The following is an example of what the commission process is like at Carrot Top Studio.

Knowing that the gifting party had requested a green stole we started the process by asking the pastor for some words or images that were important for design inspiration. He replied with:

“laughter, Puerto Rico, abundance, the Holy Spirit,

God sees us (like Peter saw the lame man at the temple gates)”

That was an interesting list that proved to be a test of our abilities to connect visuals with. That happens sometimes, but we also love a challenge!

Our first sketch included a sun to represent the New Testament symbol of the believer’s walk and a reminder of the pastor’s roots in Puerto Rico where the sun (usually) shines. A descending dove was included for the Holy Spirit with surrounding swirls to represent joy and laughter. An oak tree/cross growing out of an acorn was chosen to recall the fact that great results can be born of humble beginnings and also to speak of the abundance mentioned in John 10:10.

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We always consider a commission a process and will not move into the creation phase until the client and our studio are both pleased with the plan. And I’m afraid we missed our mark with the first attempt at sketching! Round two found us presenting these two new ideas:

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What would you have done? We settled on the sketch on the left but swapped the cross for a descending dove that had active lines that mimicked the joyfulness of the border. And here is the result —

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A Commissioned Stole for the PCUSA

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!

                        Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Portland

                        Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Portland

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.  

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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.

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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.”

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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)

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Sharing: A New Commissioned Stole Is Complete!

We recently completed a stole for a seminarian preparing for Ordination. She sought a piece that would reflect where she lived and served in Peurto Rico.It was fun to start with her own sketch and photos. When I work on a stole like this it makes me appreciate the many years as a young woman that I studied watercolor painting. As a general rule when you use watercolors you start with what is furthest in the background and work your way forward. This is because once the paint is down it can't be removed and it is not easily gone over. The commissioned stoles that we do that are like "story stoles" with a lot of appliqued pieces need to be figured out in this logical type of sequencing. It's a bit of a puzzle in the beginning but with careful planning it comes together nicely. Interesting how one opportunity from your past prepares you for the future! We've just completed the sketch for another story stole. You'll hear more about that this summer. #PCUSA #GA222 (spoiler alert :))

*Note 1-we love learning new things (especially about plants and food) and were pleased to be introduced to the seagrapes that are the large leaf plant with the interesting, clustered fruit. 

*Note 2-we had special permission to use the PCUSA seal, this one time