Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Ministry Stoles: Using new techniques

It's artistically stimulating for us to experiment with new to us techniques and equipment. We recently revised mono-printing with a commercial printing plate called a gelli pate.

First we gathered our supplies. That's the gelli plate in the top left picture. Acrylic paints, stencils, stamps, things to press into the paint and brayers rounded out the gear.
After printing the fabrics we arranged them like a collage artist would do with papers. 
Adding details of overlapping fabrics and hand stitching was super fun.
And we ended up with this finished product! Read more about it on "peace and healing" stole collection on our website here

This took us back to several years ago when we did mono printing off of a homemade gelatin block. I recently dug into that fabric stash and put together this lively table runner. It's in our Etsy shop here!


Mono-printing is instantly gratifying. We're pleased with the results and hope to do more of this in the future!


Monday, October 02, 2017

Outside the Studio: Art Prize

After living in Michigan for three years we finally found our way to Grand Rapids for Art Prize. It was wonderful to witness this international art competition that weaves in and out of the majority of the city. It is the most attended art event in the world and what we'd deem to be a happy, thought provoking, family friendly event.




We were smitten to find a variety of participatory works of art. This is a wonderful way to draw the viewer into the experience. And we think this should/could be applied to art in faith based settings. For example the below "Let Go" by Pamela Alderman spoke of the ebb and flow that eventually brings us to healing. Viewers were invited to write about the healing process or what gives them hope on a small piece of tissue paper. They were then instructed to crumble it and throw it into the waves for it to be symbolically carried out to sea.



Art Prize venues include sidewalks, restaurants, hotels, and among other things churches. For example this sculpture, "Trees Will Clap" by Dave Vander Molen was outside St. Marks Episcopal. It is based upon Isaiah 55:12 and combined the visual with the 'clapping' sound of the leaves that symbolized harmony and unity.

We appreciated this tribute to aging and community. It is made out of corrugated cardboard. It is by Warren King and is titled Grandfather's Friend and Arrival Times.

And we even know one of the exhibiting artists! Here is our friend Lauren's work. I appreciated the mood that the artist created with the colors and brushstrokes. And remarkably she's only been painting for a short time! 




I enjoyed leaving a little Carrot Top Studio logo on the public art wall. Maybe another time there will be a more official entry into Art Prize from this studio. Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Outside the Studio: The U.P.


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!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

What's With the Flying Geese?

Sorry-this stole is currently out of stock.

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)

(flying geese quilt block replica bottom right)
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!




Friday, July 14, 2017

A Unique Commission


Creation ©CarrotTopStudio, Jenny Gallo, 2017
One thing led to another. 

First a stole was purchased through our online stole. Several years later, upon ministering at a new church, a commission was entered into led by this same pastor. This project included stoles, Communion table cloths and paraments for the pulpit/lectern. The process became a collaboration as the Church year rolled along. With each new season we emailed back and forth our ideas, sketches and fabric swatches until a plan was ready to be executed in our Michigan studio. 

Just when we were mourning the end of the year long work we were thrilled to receive a request for a new piece of fiber art for the pastor's study. The parameters were to first have it fit a 46 x 56" space. Secondly the pastor thought maybe the rich illuminations of the St. John's Bible would be able to provide inspiration. We did some cartwheels at this news and dug in to make plans!

The resulting piece (above) has a creation theme based on the words in the book of Genesis. The use of batik fabrics add depth to the work. The story art is told through appliqu├ęd images and symbols and is accented by sheer fabrics, metallic textile paint and free motion embroidery details. The finishing touch was the machine quilting done by Jane Clark of Jane Quilts. The wavy quilt lines move from open/fluid to tight/closed to add to the energy of the creation story. 

As we recently traveled to a mini-vacation on the east coast we were passing by the pastor's church so had the honor of unveiling the work face to face. This is a rare treat and it was wonderful to be able to talk about the art and see it in situ. 


Artist Jenny Gallo and patron Reverend Dr. Trent Hancock examining the art. 
Image description, left to right:
  1. heaven and earth/light and dark
  2. sky and sea
  3. land and vegetation
  4. stars and moon
  5. life in water and birds
  6. creatures on dry land, and
  7. rest
A look behind the scenes ... Stitching a favorite detail, the preying mantis.

Art in place -- Glenshaw Presbyterian Church, Glenshaw, PA
We remain thankful for this relationship and body of work. 

Has this intrigued you? Seeking a commission? Email Jenny. 

*photo credit Ian Gallo




Friday, June 23, 2017

Inspiration Found: Avery Island!


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? 


See the green stole here, the white stole here, and the table runner here.


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Summer Reading


We're ready to soak up the sunshine, take in the scents of the garden and relax with some interesting reading this summer. Here's what's stacked up for us:

  • Go Like Hell by A.J. Baime was recommended after we moved to Detroit for a job my husband took that was connected with the auto industry. It's been three years since that move. It's time to read this book that features the tale of the Ford company and other visionaries of the industry.
  • I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka was recommended to me by my mother. She has enjoyed reading this at the same time her granddaughters have. I appreciate being up on what the younger set is enjoying and this title looks like it will be inspirational and give me something to converse with my nieces about. 
  • Light When It Comes: Trusting Joy, Facing Darkness and Seeing God in Everything by Chris Anderson I suspect will help me focus on small moments instead of getting swallowed up by the big picture. 
  • Wake Early by Mary Oliver is my chosen book of poetry for the summer. I don't naturally gravitate toward poetry but I keep trying at it. This is already proving to be an agreeable choice.
  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life by Tish Harrison Warren was been started on a recent plane trip and I found that I was sad when the plane landed as I wanted to keep reading! I surmise this will be a nice compliment to Light When It Comes.
  • Treasures Old and New: Images in the Lectionary by Gail Ramshaw was recommended to me by a client. Proof that I can continue to say I have the best clients! This lovely pastor saw the book on her shelf and thought of Carrot Top Studio! She wrote that -- This wonderful fat book by a liturgical scholar goes through biblical imagery and explores it both in Christian history and in present resonances (e.g., Family, Fire, Fish, Food....).    There are psalms, prayers, hymns, historical writings, along with her own musings.
  • The Violet Bakery Cookbook by Claire Ptak uses simple ingredients, whole grain flours and less refined sugars and looks like it will feed (pun intended) my creative side in the kitchen! 
What's on your summer book shelf? I'll meet you on the other side of the season to compare notes!