Late this summer I planned a retreat at the beach in North Carolina. The goal was to read, be silent, seek God's presence in the quiet and work in my sketchbooks. I knew that this would be during hurricane season. But I really didn't think a hurricane would impact the trip! And then Hurricane Florence roared into the coast. I moved to plan B and landed in the sailing capital of North Carolina — Oriental. Despite seeing the hurricane destruction in Puerto Rico last year (blog post here) it was eye opening to be in North Carolina so shortly after the destruction had occurred. But as I learned from the gentleman from FEMA that I sat next to on the airplane each hurricane is different .
I had not been in Oriental before but quickly learned that many people in this area are professional fishermen. The site of boats on top of piers and swept onto the land was quite unsettling. This is in addition to the many homes that we saw that looked like they belonged in a war zone with their entire contents on the street for trash pick up was unsettling to say the least.
The marinas inspired a new limited edition of stoles. See the creamy white Baptism version here and the Ordinary Time version here.
Below is a glimpse of the work in progress. The boats were added next!
We will gladly be sending $50 to the American Red Cross for hurricane disaster assistance for each stole in this limited edition that is purchased.
Each morning I sat by the Neuse river and read Invitation to Retreat by Ruth Haley Barton. I'd recommend this in preparation for a retreat (in a large group or as an individual) and for the suggested tasks while on a retreat. Despite not having my toes in the sand this time was restorative and thought provoking.
Driving in this beautiful state also allowed me to admire fields of cotton. I stopped and uttered thanksgivings for the farmers and harvesters that take this amazing plant and get it to those that create the fabrics we use in our products! It was a week of experiencing many blessings.
You heard me right! We’e made a stole embellished with coffee filters! I happened to be married to a man who is constantly trying to make his first cup of coffee in the morning . just . so . right. This has required some apparatus experimentation over the years. I recognize this is a little prima donna-ish but we’ve run the gamete of tools from thermal coffee pots to the french press to the our over to the areo press.
My current favorite is the aero press (seen above). It’s a combination of a french press and a pour over method. And oddly I can say that I like the texture of the way the coffee turns out and how quickly you make a quality cup of coffee.
But using this contraption daily has caused the side of me that doesn’t like to be wasteful to want to find a use for the little paper coffee filter that it uses with each press. So of course we had to trying sewing on it!
One thing led to another and the coffee filters have ended up on stoles! The inspiration for this stole series was Roman’s 8:28 …”and we know that in all things God works fo the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
What sustains you? Some might say coffee, or exercise or their family. But we’d hope that many would say it’s their relationship with God. May this stole be a reminder of all of that! … and BTW we discovered a reusable metal mesh filter for our aero press. So once we’re through the paper filters we started with that will be the end of this series!
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.
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."
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.
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?
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--
Sun - an artistic reference to “the son” used because our faith manifested through the son (Jesus Christ) allows us to have hope.
Mt. Hood - a Portland landmark. Perhaps the sight of this mountain will remind others of Mount Sinai where we learned of the importance of obedience in our relationship with God.
Portland skyline - to recall the 222nd GA location.
Fremont Bridge - Portland is known as the “City of Bridges.” The bridges make an impact on the landscape and allow for easy passage across the rivers. On this stole the bridge also symbolizes the bridging and coming together of the many ministries within Portland and in the greater PCUSA.
A river - Portland is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. A river is symbolic to us as Christians as it speaks to Baptism. When we see the river may we remember the covenant made at our Baptism which has led us to the “hope in our calling.”
The earth -the place where we currently are rooted. It is the world we are called to live and work in. The earth is also a symbol of creation care and environmental issues which are infamous in Portland.
The rose - “City of Roses” is one of the nicknames for Portland because of the rose festival and rose test garden. The rose on this stole is shown in growth stages to represent “growing hope.” It is also interesting to note that the rose was an early Christian symbol found in Roman catacombs where it denoted paradise.
Do you ever look at Carrot Top Studio stoles and think "what were they thinking?" Our newest Ordinary Time design has a little back story. So it goes that my husband has just concluded his fiftieth year of life. At the beginning of this year I suggested we celebrate in small ways along the way and then conclude with a trip to a destination of his choice (that fit in my budget-of course:)).
So one thing led to another and we found ourselves in AZ for a long weekend. I loved the drama of Sedona and the red rocks and Gary could hardly speak when first viewing the magnificence of the Grand Canyon. We departed this wonderful time of hiking and exploring a variety of creation that we'd not ever seen before simply in awe of how the earth was formed and how it has then transformed over time.
Consequently I started envisioning creation images to place on a stole.When I think of creation I often turn to the beautiful words the Psalmists have handed down to us. Landing upon Psalm 95:1-6 my thoughts started to come together for how I would wield the scissors on the cloth and make the sewing machine work its magic. We think the result would be lovely for a Thanksgiving Eve worship service if you are one of our American clients. But it is a good buy because it's also fitting for the entirety of Ordinary Time. This stole is available in several lengths and is on the website here.
"O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker."