Monday, October 17, 2016

Welcome, Welcome Jesus Christ!

We're getting closer! The season we long await will be upon us shortly. How do you mark the twelve joyful days of the Christmas season?

For me, I'm thinking of apples this year. We live in Michigan where the apple crop is an important part of the economy and extra delicous. When I was a school teacher I often received apple ornaments to hang on our family tree. Today I think  an apple is lovely hung on a tree or present in Christmas decorations to remind us of Adam and Eve. It is a visual reminder of the connection between the tree of knowledge and the tree of the cross.

But there are twelve days! What else? We've been blogging for ten years so we dug into our past posts to find ...

A Christmas craft here.
Tidbits about nativities we display here. 
A reason for Christmas bells here
A recipe here. 

Additionally how about sharing scripture readings, stories or poetry. We so rarely take the time outside of worship to read aloud to each other. Here is a prayer/poem that I am drawn to right now:

Welcome, welcome, Jesus Christ our infant savior,

baby who makes every birth holy.
May w , who like the shepherds
have witnessed in the stable a new kind of love,
return to our work with joy.
May we, for whom the heavens have opened 
to proclaim that God is with us,
we who have fed on living bread
and drunk the wine of heaven,
go out to be instruments of your peace, day by day.

A New Zealand Prayer Book

May your Christmas celebration be joyful!

Italy! You Inspired Us!

We recently had the pleasure of traveling through a bit of Italy. The amount of inspiration made our mind spin! That's a good thing though. Right? Showing you some pictures will help me describe this experience:

The symbol of the pomegranate as "the church" has always been intriguing to us. Apparently it was over a thousand years ago also! We spied it on the church of San Pietro in Bologna. This encourages our love of using symbols in our fiber art at Carrot Top Studio.
Day after day the attention to details were impressive. It was in the way food was plated. We experienced it in how purchases were wrapped by shop owners. And in the many churches we visited the details were just so immense. These photos are from some of the columns in the crypt in the Duomo in Modena. Each column had a different topper! The artists that have gone before us encourage me to stretch creatively in our attention to detail. 
This was a detail of a front door in Florence. Wow! The craftsmanship! And of course we're drawn to this favorite flower of ours, the sunflower. Artistically the sunflower is interesting as it can represent "the son" or as a reminder of worship as it has a habit of following the sun as it grows. 
In Modena we stepped out of our church and museum visiting schedule to experience the art of some of the foods of this area. One stop found us learning from a balsamic vinegar farmer. The process and time it takes to make this product was fascinating but it was most touching to hear about the barrels of vinegar that were labeled with names. It takes 25 years to make balsamic vinegar and you need a starter of completed vinegar to begin a new batch. The farmer starts a barrel each time a grandchild is born. This enables the child to have their own vinegar and also the possibility of creating new product and income. My take away? Family and tradition is valuable and patience to wait (25 years!) for a worthy products pays off. 
There was light. The candlelight. The light over the farm fields as the sun rose and set. The clever church architecture to allow for light before there was electricity. And the light in the personalities of the Italian people we met as they showed great hospitality. 
The icons and niches and faith symbols that were scattered everywhere. This Mary was on the island of Murano outside of Venice. The island is known for it's hand blown glass artists. Interesting to note that Mary is wearing beaded necklaces here! But seriously, coming home I've been looking for symbols and details and inspiration in my everyday paths. I am missing things like turning a corner and stumbling upon a Mary such as this.  
The old and new can combine successfully! The ruins of the Palatino are currently dotted with art by contemporary artists. It works. It made me think of coexistence and acceptance.
This is part of the 85,000 square feet of mosaics in St. Marks Basilica in Venice. Each one of the tiles is the size of a contact lens. Un-be-lievable! The artists have my utmost respect. 
And even the treats like gelato were inspirational. The colors, presentation and variety were simply (sweetly) sensational. 
And last but certainly not least I'm guessing most people don't visit Italy to go fabric shopping. But I'm always curious how it's done in other places. The stores were so pristine and tidy.

We could have stayed in Italy so much longer as we only scratched the surface of this lovely place with so much history. But we're back in the studio and trying to apply what we absorbed into our life. We'll let you know when this touches our art with new products on the website!