Friday, March 02, 2018

Pretzels for Lent -- A Visual Reminder

The pretzel is a very ancient bakery item, which traditionally was eaten only during Lent. It appeared each year on Ash Wednesday and disappeared on Good Friday. It goes back at least to the fifth century; thinner is a Roman manuscript in the Vatican Library dating from that period which show a Lenten pretzel. As to the shape:  it is made in the form of tow arms crossed in prayer. The word bracellae, "little arms," became in German Bretzel, then Pretzel. These early Christians ate no dairy products in Lent, so the pretzel was made only of flour, salt and water: it was as simple as it could be.

You can ponder this while eating a store bought pretzel and looking over the ideas for using pretzels during Lent on our Pinterest page OR you can gather a group of friends and make your own following this recipe...

1 T. honey or sugar
1 1/2 c. lukewarm water
1 envelop active dry yeast
1 t. salt
4 c. flour
coarse or kosher salt
1 egg, beaten

Add the honey to the water; sprinkle in the yeast and still until dissolved. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Blend in the flour, and knead the dough until smooth.

Cut the dough into pieces. Roll them into ropes and twist into pretzel shapes. You can make small pretzels with thin rope, or large ones with fat ropes, but remember that to cook at the same rate, our pretzels need to be all the same size.

Place the pretzels on lightly greased cookie sheets. Brush them with beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake at 425 degrees for 12-15 minutes until the pretzels are golden brown.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mothering Stoles

Haven't I told you our clients have the best ideas? Our Mothering Sunday stoles came to be because of a client explaining the tradition of his church in the United Kingdom. Mother's and children are honored on this day celebrated on the 4th Sunday of Lent with particular focus on a mother's love. Like Mother's Day in the United States the meaning of the tradition has changed and morphed over the years. Regardless of that my client explained the use of daffodils on this day and says it gives a brief pause in the solemnity of the Lenten season. 

It's interesting to note that in other countries this tradition is called Refreshment Sunday, Pudding Pie Sunday, Mid-Lent Sunday, Simnel Sunday and Rose Sunday. In our response to our client's needs we created a purple stole for Lent with daffodils. But we loved the idea so much we translated the imagery onto a white stole that would be suitable for the season of Easter or if your congregation honors Mother's Day in May. And good news for our clients ... these stoles are currently on sale! See the purple stole here and the white version here.

And isn't it fitting that the daffodil that is a sign of rebirth and beginnings is the flower used in connection with these days in our church life? Some people even call them a Lent lily. So there's your little interesting fact for the day! 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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

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. 

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!