Carrot Top Studio creates unique, hand crafted ministry stoles for clergy, pastors, chaplains and wedding officiants. Blog posts are written about making visual connections to the Word in worship and other faith and arts interests.Read More
Read about the Carrot Top Studio collection of red stoles suitable for Pentecost and Ordination.Read More
What I've learned in 15 years of owning and operating Carrot Top Studio ...
15 - Have faith in an idea. The goal was to be in business for 3 years and look where we are now!
14 - Designing for the seasons of preparation is a favorite.
13 - Communication is key.
12 - Red stoles sell well.
11 - Listening is key. You all have great ideas!
10 - I my taxman more than I did 15 years ago. And he shouldn't read anything into this ranking.
9 - Hard work is worth it.
8 - Writing is our strongest suit but after 405 blog posts there has been improvement.
7 - Learning and curiosity for the sake of the business has led to studying the scriptures and reading many. That's a joy.
6 - Social media can be a good thing. Thanks for linking with Carrot Top Studio!
5 - it's not all about the money - I really love what I do.
4 - Making charitable donations because through your purchases has been a special delight.
3 - Good photographs are important for an online business (duh!?) Check out the website for our recent improvements!
2 - My family is a really supportive bunch.
1 - Your compassion, caring, and encouragement make you the best clients to work with! I am so very thankful.
THANK YOU, thank you! Cheers to what is ahead :) …. signing off to go eat that cake!
I usually start my day with a devotion from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove. The May 4 guiding of song, scripture and prayer ended with some thoughts titled, “Smells and Bell.” Sharing parts of it here —
I’ll be the first to admit that clergy stoles like what we create and sell at Carrot Top Studio are not necessary for ministry. But likewise they aren’t unworthy in worship. We pray that the stoles can be used as great complements to help us “re-member” Jesus as we carry on in this business of worshipping and living it out.
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.
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.
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:
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 —
Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions. If this doesn't answer all of your questions do't hesitate to contact us at jenny.gallo@CarrotTopStudio.com or 412-480-4193.
What length stole should I order?
There is no set rule as it depends upon your ministry style and whether you wear a robe or not. The best scenario would be to have someone help you use a cloth tape measure to measure from the back center of your neck to the edge of where the hem would be on one side of the stole. Or know that a 49" stole falls at the knee cap of a 5' 4" person with a thin frame and then gauge accordingly.
How long does shipping take?
Shipping is 2-3 business days within the USA via USPS Priority mail. Orders are fulfilled Monday-Saturday unless otherwise noted in the website announcement bar. Expedited 1-2 day shipping via USPS is an alternative option at checkout.
What if I don't see what I need on your website?
Don't hesitate to ask if there is a stole you like but it's not the correct length. We might be able to remake the stole in a longer length or hem a stole that is not short enough.
OR if you if an idea for a stole that is not in our current collection we would be glad to consider adding it as a limited edition to the website or creating it as a one of a kind commission. Email us here.
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.
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!
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--