Monday, November 25, 2013

Worship Banners-You Can Do It!

A client recently inquired to see if we had resources Carrot Top Studio could share for her congregation to make their own worship banners. We love to share, so here you go:
Simple yet meaningful.

  • Worship banners don't need to have complicated imagery to be effective. Bold color can make for great impact. One of my favorite sets of Lent banners are simply a solid purple fabric with a gold cross on one and a gold rooster on the other. These are just little tidbits of the Lenten journey story but they are enough to draw the congregation into the season in worship.

  • Unless the sewer is going to quilt the banner it should be kept narrow. Wide banners tend to sag. Therefore sometimes creative solutions need to be thought of. For example, if you are filling a large wide space in your sanctuary you would be better served with several narrow banners.

  • Turn to books for inspiration. Here are a few that I have found useful.

    These torn fabric stripped banners were used during
    a processional and then "planted" into holders by the
    church windows so the fabric moved with
    the breeze. The armature was PVC pipe.
  • It's best not to invest millions (ha, ha--who has that!) into the supplies for banners. If congregations spend a lot they tend to be reluctant to invest in new banners. The danger in this, besides not being good stewards of our resources, is that the visuals become stale. If we look at something for too long then our brain takes it for granted and the message is no longer effective. 
  • Banners don't have to be made out of fabric. Think outside the box....paper, ribbons, or maybe a unique gem found in the recycling bin.

  • We get calls saying that churches no longer have sewers and artists so they are thankful they can work with us. Honestly, despite being thankful for the business, I always have a hard time believing this! The church should reach out to quilt guilds, art guilds, 4-H clubs and home economics classes (or family consumer science as they call it  in my neck of the woods today).
If you take on your own worship banner projects within your congregation we'd love to hear your stories and see pictures. Now, go forth and conquer!

Monday, November 04, 2013

We're Celebrating!

Thanks to you we've earned our "Purple Star" for positive customer feedback on eBay. It might seem silly but we take this seriously....we appreciate: 
  • the ease of selling on eBay,
  • the energy of a auction format, 
  • the feedback that you leave after your shipment arrives so that others can gain confidence in Carrot Top Studio.
Thank you for getting us to this place! Woot! We're celebrating by offering a few extra stoles on eBay this week. Happy bidding!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Behind the Scenes

I am....
JENNY ....who was thrilled to start out teaching art to children and adults but now happily spends her days in her studio creating fiber art.

My colors....I tend to draw upon the natural seasons for my favorite color combinations. As I write it is autumn outside my studio so if asked the question today I'd say my colors are pumpkin accented with a deep blue the color of the sky. 

Where I a very non glamorous but cozy basement studio that has a lot of order to it. I find being surrounded by organization allows my creativity to flow freely.

I am inspired by...reading scripture, absorbing books of many different genre (and libraries and book stores), visiting art museums, being in nature, experiencing different types of architecture and environments, and by people that lead in quiet ways.

I stay inspired by...God's word (lately and surprisingly from the Old Testament), viewing work by artists that have gone before me, studying other small business owners, walking for physical exercise and to keep my mind clear.

A favorite quote....

I grandmother telling me during my teenage years that I was 'cagey' to accessorize with the color red. With my orange hair, as bright as a circus clowns, this was just a little 'outside her box' yet her words were a source of encouragement to me to do my own thing.
my grandmother and I circa 1963

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Preparing to Make Advent Stoles

I thought I'd give you  a sneak peek at the fabric dying process we're using in preparing, designing and sewing for Advent. We don't often dye our own fabric but we really enjoy the process. I think it takes me back to the many years that I painted with watercolors. 

The white cotton fabric is first soaked in a bath of soda ash. If you're a chemistry type this is actually sodium carbonate. It actually activates the fiber molecules so that they can chemically attack the dye so it's more reactive. Is that too much information? 

The wet fabric is set on a rack on top of a tray and is then covered with ice cubes.

Powdered dye is sprinkled over the ice. As the ice melts the colors will mix. The fun part with this step was when the construction worker who was doing his thing in front of my studio saw the wet purple-y fabric and asked if I was making elderberry wine! We had a good chuckle. Then when I explained that I was a fiber artist and I did work for clergy and this was part of my preparation for Advent another of the guys asked what Advent was. That was an unexpected little moment of evangelism!

24 hrs. later the fabric looks like this. It gets rinsed and then washed.

And we then end up with THIS! It looks so pretty in the garden I might have to wait to bring it inside to cut (tee hee!)

Monday, September 16, 2013


Dear husband says to me over the weekend: "lets go for a hike Sunday afternoon."
I respond: "There's a great space in the city I've wanted to check out for ages."
Dear husband: "Great! Send me the address and I'll GPS it."

Fast forward to being in the midst of the hike through the 400 acre, 200+ year old, hilly, wooded, intriguing, city cemetery...

Dear husband remarks: "If I were one to post things on Facebook I'd probably get some laughs out of the fact that I asked my wife on a date for the afternoon and she said 'let me show you a cemetery.'"  Laughter is a good thing, right? Anyway....the property provided for a good hike/walk, the history was intriguing and of course there was much inspiration for Carrot Top Studio! Here are a few of our favorite images--

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Art Promotes Community

I have been thinking a lot about community lately. This is probably partly because I am a new empty-nester. Yikes!....part of my community isn't living with me anymore. I have been contemplating and self examining my neighborhood community, the community friends provide outside of where I live, and community we're able to have via the internet. Lastly I have been examining the community that happens because of The Church like the author of 1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us, "therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing."

viewers treasured the Modern Quilt Guild of Pittsburgh mini pieces

Fabric and creating has been part of my life probably since I was a child making curtains and rugs out of scraps for my doll house. The work that Carrot Top Studio and our clients provide are a blessing and thoroughly enjoyed but I also appreciate having sewing, design and creating in the "free time" of my days. Therefore the empty nest and examination of community has led me to join a new community of quilters. This weekend I was able to attend an art gallery opening for this group's first ever exhibit. The event promoted community as the members prepared for the event ahead of time and gathered to see each other's works. Additionally because this gallery was in a small space of a large library there was extended community as viewers of the general public stumbled upon or purposefully engaged in the art and with the artists. Experiencing this calls me to encourage you to think about your church buildings. Maybe you have a small space that would be suitable to encourage artists to share their work and the viewer to be challenged by their art? It doesn't need to be fancy. I'd say a clean wall, good lighting, and a simple hanging system would give you a great start. The "gallery" space could have short term or permanent use.
Won't You Be My Neighbor, detail
Getting back to the quilt guild exhibit, here's a detail of my little piece. We were challenged to create a quilt that was no larger than 8 x 10" with the theme of Pittsburgh. Won't You Be My Neighbor? was created because of my love for Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods. Inspiration stemmed from a traditional quilt block called “next door neighbor” that has been pieced to surround a representation of Pittsburgh’s three rivers. This work has been made modern through the use of high contrast coloring and grid work style machine quilting. The arched quilting symbolizes our many bridges and the straight lines recall the downtown skyline. All of this is turned as a reflection below the quilted water’s edge.

I'll sign off today looking forward to knowing some of the creative ways you've helped or participated in connecting community and the visual arts!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Coptic Textiles: A History Containing Vestments

I have been thinking about the Coptic Christians as we are hearing much about them in the news. I think their history is remarkable. My wee bit of knowledge takes me back to my collegiate art history classes. 
It is interesting to note that an unusual number of Coptic textiles survive today, due to the Coptic
contemporary Coptic art
custom of burying them with the dead, and to the aridity of Egyptian graves. The textiles are commonly linen or wool and use the colors red, blue, yellow, green, purple, black and brown. The dyes were re-markedly created from madder, indigo, woad, saffron, the murex shell, and the kermes insect.The basic garment was the tunic, which would become the dalmatic, similar to what deacons wear today. To
day I can associate this to our interest and passion for liturgical textiles that has grown into our business at Carrot Top Studio.
Regardless of the time in history we know that artists are influenced by their environment. Case in point, the early Coptic craftsmen had at their disposal a vast storehouse of images, many of which circulated in the form of patterns. They used pictorial motifs from the Greco-Roman tradition, including pastoral scenes related to the Nile River and mythological characters such as dancers who evoke Dionysian celebrations. Of Egyptian lineage are hieroglyphic figures such as the hare, signifying the verb, "to endure." Eastern motifs from Syrian and Persian fabrics were also incorporated which combined oriental hunters on horseback with running lions and leopards, and with Christian crosses. As they integrated the images into their weaving  the artisans created a distinct style, in which the figure and ornamentation are treated equally. 
Young Christ
This "Young Christ" panel is an example of Christian imagery on linen fabric from the 5th century. The youthful orbed Christ, seated on a throne, raises his two fingers in blessing. Christ gazes towards a haloed figure with short hair and a beard, whose Greek inscription names him Simon Peter. The figures are placed within arcades resting on columns; the arched canopies and upholstery are marbled.This hanging may have had a liturgical use. 

The cloth was dyed by the resist printing method. The creator of this linen cloth would have spread a protective layer of wax or clay on the area intended to be left undyed, or reserved. The technique is similar to the making of the batik fabrics that we love to incorporate into our clergy stoles today. When the resist was dry, the cloth was plunged into a vat of indigo dye. 

In the worship service I attended this past Sunday we concluded by singing the hymn "O Day of God, Draw Nigh" and the words do not escape me as I pray for Christian brothers and sisters around the world today...

Bring justice to our land,
That all may dwell secure,
And finely build for days to come
Foundations that endure.

Bring to our world of strife
Your sovereign word of peace,
That war may haunt the earth no more
And desolation cease.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Studio's Frequently Asked Questions

May I order a Carrot Top Studio stole in a color or length other than what is shown?
We would like to meet your needs and will gladly consider an alternate stole fabric or creating more of an existing design in a different length.  Please make an inquiry directly to the studio by emailing  

commissioned stole
using client's fabric
from the mission field
May I commission a one of a kind stole?
Commissions can bring great joy to the recipient and are a wonderful creative challenge for our studio. The process consists of you feeding us some ideas and then we'll email you a sketch.  Pricing begins at $130 + S&H.  Work commences after both parties are in agreement on design, fabrics, and cost. This is 2-8 week process depending upon your needs and our schedule. 

What is your return policy?
We offer 100% satisfaction guarantee on all pre-made Carrot Top Studio products.  If you are not completely satisfied  with your stole simply return the product to us within ten days of delivery.  We will immediately provide a refund or a product exchange. 

Due to the unique nature of commissioned stoles we are unable to make returns.  We will however be glad to work with our clients to make sure they are completely satisfied. 

Do you have a mail order catalog?
Not at this time. We hope you'll bookmark us ( and check our website often because we create in limited editions the inventory is updated frequently. The best way to learn what's new is to like our FaceBook page here.

May I visit the studio?
We must confess,the studio is nothing glamorous even though it works well for us. If you're in the Pittsburgh, PA area and are just dying to see what we have in inventory please email or call (412-480-4193) and we'll see how we might accommodate you.

feeling blessed that
I can consider my "work" a joy!
Why do you call it Carrot Top Studio?
Awwwww, good question!  I'm still proud to have my natural orange hair and love using the childhood nickname of "Carrot Top" to label the studio where I have so much fun working! As a child that was teased often for appearing a bit different I had no idea that I would embrace this difference as an adult. With this lesson learned and as the white hairs are integrating themselves I suspect I will always identify with the name "Carrot Top!"

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Reading

I enjoy having a little extra reading time in the summer. Here's what has recently been read or is on the book shelf to see us through the rest of summer...

The Book of New Family Traditions, by Meg Cox
I was introduced to this author because of her involvement with the 'Modern Quilt' movement. The silver lining was discovering that she's written this gem (and updated it!) about family rituals. Because Carrot Top Studio mostly creates ministry stoles based upon the rhythm and ritual of  the church year of course we value ritual in other areas of our life also. Despite the fact that I'm about to enter an empty nest phase I thoroughly enjoyed the breadth and depth of this book. It is not written from a Christian perspective but is encompassing to many faith traditions which helped expand my knowledge and respect of others. 

Stations of the Heart, Parting With a Son by Richard Lischer
This book was hard to put down as I read through the roller coaster of emotions shared between a father and son and family as they prepared for the adult son's death. There is mystery in our faith. Some things I will probably not ever understand. But I appreciate this young man embracing the path he was on as beautifully as he could. I am a former classroom teacher but I believe that teaching also happens in many different ways outside of the classroom. This family taught me much about life and death through Richard (the father's) sharing of their story. It is a kindhearted and loving example. I enjoyed the writing style of the author so much that I have added his other titles to my "need to read" list.

Peace Be With You: Monastic Wisdom for A Terror-Filled World by David Carlson, PhD
We create and sell a lot of stoles designed with the theme of peace. I use Goodreads to keep track of my books and found this title on the website through a friend's recommendation. He gave it 4 out of 5 stars. I think I was drawn to the title because I believe we really need to and are being called to strive for peace. I will soon read it but hope I can agree with Phyllis Tickle's review--"One of the richest, most insightful, and most instructive books I have ever read on the business of living the Christian life fully, biblically, faithfully, and non-dogmatizedly." because I have so much to learn!

The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim
I am learning so much about Korean history by enjoying this novel. I was referred this title by a librarian friend and then was pleasantly surprised to discover that there is a Christian component. It turns out that the story revolves around the main character trying to find her way between her Confucian following father and her Christian mother in the midst of the Korean conflict. I am enjoying the rich descriptions of their life, struggles and joys.
Drawn In, Troy Bronsink
This title will probably be cracked open in August. Amazon's description is: In DRAWN IN, Bronsink shows how the rhythms of God’s creative work can be discovered through design thinking and creative processes. Exercises invite participation in God’s life and redemptive rhythms. This holistic approach will shift how Christian creatives think of mission, worship, collaboration, and everyday discipleship. If you have artists in your faith community this looks like it could be a great title to work through as a small group. It looks first at God's creative work and then ours.

What are you reading this summer?  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

I Am Who I Am

I am who I am partly because of genetics. This is a little documentary of some of the woman in my family that have helped shape me.

My mother was an influence in my creativity. She gave me the freedom to 'play' from an early age. She's also one of the two reasons why I'm a Carrot Top! I always had plenty of space and time for play that was focused in an open ended way such as designing entire cities with wooden blocks, sculpting in a sand box (largest one in the neighborhood!), and using a wide variety of art supplies. In this picture she is obviously affirming that a cowgirl can wear a smocked dress and still be successful (ha, ha!)

My grandmother was always so supportive of my endeavors. Here she is holding me as a newborn. I can still hear her telling me how "cagey" it was to mix one particular color with another in the way I dressed. Maybe this is why today I like to still step out of creating with nontraditional color combinations.

My sister is the one that I can most easily laugh, cry or problem solve with. We inspire each other creatively and build each other up as we both manage our own businesses. Here we are with a "creative" treasure cake that we almost creatively dumped on the floor right before serving it to the birthday child!

And last but not least I'm just back from a family get together with my father's family where we took this picture. It was a treat to spend a weekend with my aunts. These creative souls can count talents of floral arranging, tailoring, quilting, weaving, tent making (really!), teaching and expert pie baking as just a few of their many gifts.

I remain thankful that the concept of family is a gift from God and that these women have helped be the building blocks of who I am.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Banner Opportunity!

The curriculum that my home congregation chose to use for vacation Bible school this year described how a "set" could be built as a backdrop for the main gathering area for singing and the message of the day. Within this set it was suggested to create paper banners. Being of good conscience our children's ministry director saw these paper banners as a good idea that could be made better by involving the children in their creation and making them out of fabric to make the project more sustainable. It was fun for Carrot Top Studio to support this idea. Instead of embellishing the banners with the "characters" that coordinated with the curriculum the children would develop the symbols that would be placed on the banners. We became a team in this project.This is what happened next:

  • the middle school youth group spent time learning about and researching Christian symbols.
  • the students each chose a symbol to draw as a flat the apple symbol is for Apple computers. No details within the shape were necessary.
  • the group worked together to decide which symbols would work best for the five, double sided banners that would be created.
  • the chosen symbols were drawn on a 12 x 12" piece of paper. These were cut out to create a pattern.
  • meanwhile in the studio we were prepping fabric measuring 12 x 12" that was ironed onto a iron on adhesive.
  • the students traced their patterns onto the prepared fabric and then cut out the shapes.
  • we took the shapes into the studio and applied them onto the banner backgrounds that we had made. Note...this is a simple sewing project that middle school students could handle with the right adult guidance. We didn't have time for this type of involvement this year but this should be considered in the future!
What were the results of this project? The youth group was energized when they explored the symbols and discussed the historical meanings in addition to the meaning that they themselves personally saw in them. The banners are being used as a colorful, visual connection to our faith this week. Additionally the banners will carry on their purpose when they move to the children's worship space this fall. 

It was great to be part of this project. I share it today to encourage you to take curriculum ideas and make them better, more sustainable or more specific to your church needs. Keep making those visual connections through color and symbols!

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

The Studio Keeps Me Learning

It's exciting for Carrot Top Studio to be celebrating nine years in business! Over the years we have learned much and we look forward to what is ahead! Feeling that it's worthy to reflect here are the top nine things.:

9.  I like working alone but I've learned it's good to bounce ideas off of other people. 

8.  I was reluctant to add social media to our repertoire  Surprisingly it's been a pleasurable blessing to our business.. 

7.  Learning new things is invigorating. And there has been a full range of this over the years! It's included learning new artistic techniques to how to build a spreadsheet to how to light my basement studio for photography.

6.  If you feel called to do something don't give up. It took several years to find our niche and that was worth the wait.

5.  It's really fun to be able to give back through the sale of special stoles such as the Haiti silk collection and the stole that benefits Alzheimer's research.  

4.  "I can do anything" doesn't mean "I can do everything." I am learning to ask for help.

3.  It's good to be patient with making important decisions. I am learning not to rush.

2.  I am thankful that I can say I do what I love so I don't consider it work.

1.  There are a lot of really wonderful, kind, generous, trusting people in this world. Our clients are among these.

Thank you for helping me grow the business and to grow to be more of who God has called me to be!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Review

My friend published a novel this year. It was a joy to have time to read his work this past week as it provided an entertaining yet thought provoking escape from the chaos of a busy time in my life. The story had me laughing, wondering what would happen next, and gee, I confess.....I even shed a tear!

The official book jacket description entices you to read this tale with this pitch:

In a small southern town Tom Weston ran outside with tears streaming down his face in the middle of the night. He collapsed in a heap on the red earth. She couldn’t be gone. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye. He closed his eyes and saw again the stiff corpse laying in the bed upstairs. This was not a dream. A tale of grief, faith, and hope, follows the life of teenager Tom Weston as he strives to make sense of his shattered world. Given an opportunity to escape Podunk Greenwood and his past, he finds himself at the gates of the highly prestigious Locklear University. With the comical Dr. Emory as his friend and mentor, Tom struggles to survive in this strange new world ruled by the despicable Dean of students. Tom and wealthy roommate, Charles Montgomery, are fatefully paired to tackle the pressures of school, family, and their impending futures as they join a mysterious secret society together. When blonde bombshell Julia Stine walks into the picture things only get more confusing.

Because this is the Carrot Top Studio blog I must note that I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the main character's entering into worshipful moments and worship spaces. The college campus setting took me back to my days as a coed. I think this short novel would be an interesting small group book study that could span many generations. Reading Finding Tom would allow a group to discuss where we encounter God, how we've been mentored, the role and need of mentoring during the formative years of young adulthood, how we're called to stand for what we believe in and much more!

The author, Simeon Harrar, is a young seminarian and I can not wait to see what God has in store for him as he combines his passion for writing, his history of growing up in the mission field, his gift for connecting with youth and his call to serve the Church. While we await all this, if you are interested in this title it can be purchased for your Kindle here and in paperback here.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer in the United States. As you may know the motto is:

Investing in Hope... 

Transforming our Nation Through Prayer!

Sometimes I get cynical and think why in this country of so much wealth and opportunity do we need to take this focus on this one particular day? But then as the thoughts roll through my mind I think that we may need it more than anyone else. We get so easily caught up in the "opportunities" and can get sidetracked from the purpose of how God might really want to be using us. Serving in Haiti and seeing how my brothers and sisters that love the Lord in that country yet live lives of simplicity and hard work, while oozing joy (literally singing themselves through their days), causes me to refocus my sarcasm. Then I know that in this nation there is as much need as there is in other parts of the world. It is just a different need. 

As I join in the hope of transforming this nation through prayer I think of two people that were placed in my life. First, was a friend who was like me; a wife, mother and artist. But she was older and wiser. This dear woman had a mighty life wrapped in prayer and she kept a list of the president and his cabinet in her prayer journal so she could remember to pray for these leaders by name--daily. I'm sure prior to this I had whispered some "God please bless this country" type prayers but this was the first time I'd heard of someone making it so personal and part of a daily prayer life. Secondly, about a decade ago,  I was able to have dinner with a former United States Chaplain. While learning about his ministry this very humble, servant told of starting each day with a walk to his offices at the Capitol. He carried a list of the current congressmen and prayed for ten of them each day. He shared enlightening stories of how this helped draw him closer to the congressmen, to their needs, and to the needs of our government. He truly believed in transforming the nation through prayer. His example and tales encouraged me to not neglect the needs of these leaders even when I didn't believe in their particular politics. 

Such an imperfect child of God am I but, I remain thankful for the people that God places in my life that can teach us lessons...such as to pray for my invest in hope.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Symbols Make Connections

Confession: Sometimes I watch/listen to a movie while I'm working! Oh, I know....that is so bad (ha,ha). Gee Jenny, you're really going off the deep end! But really, the fact of the matter is that despite being an introvert and REALLY loving the art studio business that I am able to have, well--sometimes it's just too quiet. In those moments I pop in a movie that I've reserved from the library or like yesterday I turn to the documentary category on Yesterday's choice was The Paperclips Project. The former teacher in me was drawn to the fact that this was started by a teacher in a school district when it became overwhelmingly apparent as to how homogeneous the student's world was. The paperclip project struck a chord and lasted for years as the entire community (and beyond) became involved. 

Without giving away the entire plot of the documentary I can share that a simple paperclip became the symbol that united the people to reinforce the message that then energized the participants to think about how they were treating each other and what they were doing for each other. Wow! That little symbol was powerful. The paperclip as a symbol has a history dating back to World War II. The story is told that patriots wore paper clips as a symbol of resistance to the German occupiers when other signs of resistance were forbidden. The clips were meant to denote solidarity and unity (i.e. we are bound together).

This is not different from reading the Bible and discovering that God used tangible signs and symbols throughout scripture as a way of communicating to His people. Often people were instructed to make use of such signs and symbols to help understand or to remember what God is teaching. So many Christian symbols come to mind! Of course there is the rainbow, unleavened bread, blood, oil, the dove, a lamb, and of course bread and wine. And the list goes on and on. Because we, at Carrot Top Studio, are in the business of using symbols we take this seriously. But after watching this movie yesterday I was struck to think about worship spaces and worship experiences I had recently been in. I wonder if we are using symbols visually and in our story telling to their fullest extent? Are we remember God's example of the powerful teaching tool that they can be? It's something to ponder....and now with this train of thought I can justify having that movie playing in the background while woring on a new Ordination stole design yesterday (grin!)

Here's the Paper Clips Project movie trailer if you are not familiar with it...

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Earth Day

The celebration of Earth Day approaches on April 22nd. As you probably know, this is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. As a Christian I can't separate this out to one single day.

The psalms tell us we are just tenants of this place we currently live in.
The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the word and all who live in it. (Psalm 24:1) 

How do we build upon and care for what we have been given? How do we take a step further and apply creation care to our worship spaces? We can look to Exodus 35:20-29 for one example. The materials used to build the tabernacle all came from recycled donations from the Israelites. Precious metals were not mined but melted down from donated jewelry  Acacia forests were not clear cut, rather "everyone who possessed acacia wood of any use in the work brought it". I especially love their example of doing this cheerfully! If our church were in the midst of building or renovating today how would we apply this? Furthermore how do we apply the Biblical example of reuse to our personal lives?

Along these lines of thinking we at Carrot Top Studio are often inspired by God's great earth. We try to use upcycled or eco-friendly fibers as often as possible. This is always noted below the stole description. Additionally here are a few of our current stoles that play on the theme of natural beauty.

You may see these ministry stoles in the Ordinary Time collection here, the Peace and Healing collection here, and the Children's Ministry collection here.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Draw the Children In

Carrot Top Studio uses visuals to make a connection to the Word in worship. Our typical artist endeavors include ministry stoles and the occasional worship banner. Certainly we also appreciate all the other visuals that can be aids in worship. This past week I worshiped behind a family with two young children.The children were obviously used to the rhythm and routine of the liturgy. Helping this happen were the patient parents who answered their whispered questions, the surrounding worshipers who didn't grimace each time the little ones squirmed, and the unique worship bulletin. I think it's important not to dumb down to children but instead meet them where they are at. I think this worship bulletin does that. It follows the order that the "regular" bulletin does but is in large print, has spaces for responses to help keep their attention, and includes visual cues for pre- and early readers. I know it takes extra effort for the church staff to produce this each week. I applaud the determination of those involved to do whatever we can as "the church" to help the younger set feel included. This is an energy well spent to help create the next generation of active worshipers! Ok...I'm getting off my soapbox now (grin). What does this children's edition look like? Here are a few pages from last week...

*click on images to enlarge*



We believe sharing is caring so we'd like to say thanks to the hard working staff at Westminster Presbyterian for letting us share the images in this post.

Speaking of Children's Ministry...insiders secret....we're adding a new Easter stole to the Children's Ministry collection by week's end! 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Home From Haiti

We're home from our fourth trip to the New Testament Mission in LaCroix, Haiti.It's probably no surprise that on these trips I always learn things about myself, about others and about God. I remain grateful to my clients who are patient while I delay shipping for a week so I can have this time to serve, learn and grow.
painting silk scarves with LaFemme de la Croix
In the last two years the silk scarf painting program has grown from selling the scarves in the United States and sending the profits into a general education fund for the artists to much, much more! The girls are now getting paid per scarf and a Haitian teacher and assistant are paid for their leadership. There is also still profit from the sale of the scarves that goes into the education fund. The scarf inventory has grown large enough that in addition to being sold through my home church that they are being sold at the gift shop at the US Embassy in Port au Prince. Coming soon they will be offered in an online retail store! Additionally Carrot Top Studio is thrilled to purchase scarves and take them to another level by using them as appliques in stoles. The sale of these stoles send proceeds back to the LaFemme de la Croix. 

When in Haiti I travel with a blank sketch book. As an introvert that is s-l-o-w-l-y learning Haitian Kreyol I find that sharing a sketch book and taking turns drawing can be an opening to making new friends....because art is universal. After this young man finished drawing he wrote in the sketch book, "Jesus please bless me and Jenny. Behold. We love you very much." This simple message brought tears to my eyes. I blinked back the tears in my eyes and assured him I would gladly be praying for him until we meet again.

peace and sandwiches!
Voodoo infiltrates the country of Haiti. But where Christians are they tend to pronounce their faith boldly.For example they paint portraits of Jesus on the headlights of their tap taps (public transportation). Another example is the Haitian workers that enter the mission at 5:30 a.m. singing hymns. And many businesses incorporate their testimony into their name. I experience these things and I am humbled. I leave the country wondering if am I proclaiming my love for the Lord boldly as possible? I marvel at the fact that God is wo patient with me.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Creating Ministry Stoles Lends Itself to Fun

A few things that made us smile in the studio--

A client wrote: "Gave pastor the green custom stole today and he was speechless. (A good thing)."

Another client shared: "You are the fastest shipper I have ever met. I tell all my colleagues about your quick ship and say "Carrot Top Studio will never let you preach naked"!

This is looks like Ordinary Time will really be "in" this year (ha, ha)....

And speaking of color....we took advantage of snow on the ground outside our studio this week to produce this fabric that we're just itching to stitch into Pentecost and Ordination stoles! 
What does the snow have to do with this? It allows for a fun, spontaneous fabric dying method where you cover the fabric with snow, sprinkle powered dye on top of the snow and then you let the melting snow marble the placement of the color on the fabric. Trying to focus on blessings I can now count this method as a blessing to having snow on the ground! 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Book Review

When I picked up The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt book at the library the intention was to read it just for pleasure because my sewing roots are founded in a love of quilting. This book is collaboration of the letters submitted to The Farmer's Wife magazine in 1922 when it requested their readers help. The publishers were looking for the answer to the question, "If you had a daughter of marriageable age, would you, in light of your own experience, have her marry a farmer?" The magazine was sent 7000 responses and this book archives the best answers. 

What surprised and captivated my reading was how many of the letters made references to God, faith, and church. From awe for creation, to being in co-labor with God, to drawing closer to God through nature, to following God's plan these women had no question that they were living the best lifestyle possible. My family's table blessings before dinner often include thankfulness for the farmers that have provided our food. We recognize their hard work. After reading through these letters I have new appreciation for the attitude and gratitude for those that aspire to and choose to work the land.

If you are a quilter the bonus of this book are the patterns that are included of traditional quilt blocks from the 1920's. A CD provides templates and easy to follow instructions.  This book is published by Krause and the ISBN is 0896898288.