Creating a clergy stole with a boat theme

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.

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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!

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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And the resulting stole! See the Baptism stole here and the Ordinary Time stole here.

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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!

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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A new eco-friendly clergy stole for Ordinary Time!

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.

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First we "auditioned" green fabrics that would become the appliquéd symbols for this Ordinary Time stole.

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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.

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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."

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Working in a Series: The Sheep

Sometimes one idea in the studio builds upon another. That becomes a series and our latest endeavors  have been inspired by sheep and learning about Biblical shepherd imagery. Some of this resulted in items for Christmas! You may see the stole here and the parament/banner here

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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. 

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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. 

Inspiring Time in New Orleans

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--

How We Got the Idea For This Stole

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."