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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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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The Coffee Filter Clergy Stole

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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So the coffee filters on this stole are symbolic of sustenance the way that cup can seem first thing in the morning. But they are also circles to remind us of God’s never ending love. How good is that? The stoles can be seen in full here and here.

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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!

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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So much Ordinary Time!

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 ....

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We got this far ...

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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.

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