Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paper Lacemaking

Although the true definition of lace is a delicate decorative fabric woven in an open web of symmetrical patterns, artists have often eliminated the fabric and used paper instead. Remember when you were a kid in elementary school and you used those safety scissors and folded construction paper to make snowflakes? If you followed your teacher's instructions, you should have ended up with an open web of a symmetrical pattern.

Now, the above picture is rather simplistic, but several of our guild members have examples of much more complicated paper lace in their shops.

For instance, Susan at Rosa Mystica (http://www.etsy.com/shop/rosamystica) has two vintage holy cards bordered with paper lace. Look carefully at the intricate design on the one below. She writes that the cards are from the 19th century. With the industrial revolution already underway at that point in time, I suppose the border could have been machine made, but I like to think that it was hand crafted or at least manually made with a press.

Antique Lace French Holy Card - Jesus Forgives Sins - by Letaille

Next is a 1928 German folkart Sacred Heart badge surrounded by a wide and beautiful border of paper lace that is then hand laced around the center piece of fabric. This can be found at http://www.etsy.com/shop/TheRecycledCatholic.

Antique Sacred Heart Badge Stained Glass Wall Art

Finally, Cassie at http://www.etsy.com/shop/chicgiftsbysass has utilized strips of paper lace to mimic fondant icing on her lovely diaper cake.

Vintage Baby Blue Hydrangea Diaper Cake with faux fondant icing

Who knew paper could be so beautiful and add so much charm to our arts and crafts?

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Final Tribute to Summer: This week's Treasury

Yesterday my 3 year old picked up a fallen leaf and asked my why it was yellow. His big brother was quick to answer, "Because fall is on its way." Can summer really be ending so soon?

As August comes to a close, here are some gorgeous tributes to summer's fragrant blossoms before they give way to autumn's leaves.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

St. John Francis Regis, Patron Saint of Lacemaking

"Of many Arts, one surpasses all. For the maiden seated at her work flashes the smooth balls and thousand threads into the circle, ... and from this, her amusement, makes as much profit as a man earns by the sweat of his brow, and no maiden ever complains, at even, of the length of the day. The issue is a fine web, which feeds the pride of the whole globe; which surrounds with its fine border cloaks and tuckers, and shows grandly round the throats and hands of Kings." - Jacob Van Eyck, 1651.

Although this quote should be all that is needed to continue and end the topic of lacemaking begun on the August 27th Friday Feature, I can't help but continue the concept through a short introduction to St. John Francis Regis and the inclusion of several uses of lace from Etsy Artists Guild's members.

St. John Francis Regis (1597-1640) lived as a priest in France and is the patron saint of lacemakers and lacemaking. He utilized this beautiful art form as a means of employment for young ladies who might otherwise choose an immoral occupation. He provided training for these girls in lacemaking and embroidery, thus allowing them to earn a living in an honest manner.

Here at the guild, the assumption can be made that many of our members are motivated to create for their financial good or that of their families. But St. Regis' example also reminds us that keeping our minds and hands busy with our work can aid in keeping us holy too. Trouble cannot easily find a mind busy on a new pattern or hands deftly manipulating needle and thread...

Look at the tiny snippets of lace meticulously added to these sweet dolls by Jennifer at http://www.etsy.com/shop/stannespixies.
Little Folk Dancer Doll dressed in Wool Felt Waldorf InspiredSnow White Princess Doll 4 inch tall Felt Bendy FolkImmaculate Heart of Mary Pillow Doll made from Amy Butler Tree Peony

...or fingers carefully applying icing to freshly baked cookies:

Wedding Cookie Collection

Kay from Rollin in Dough, http://www.etsy.com/shop/rollinindough, must use great concentration and dexterity to decorate these fabulous wedding cookies with lace-like features.

In the days that follow, more member shops using lace or lace-like features will be highlighted as well as various forms of lacemaking. May St. Regis intercede for us as we use art for the greater glory of God.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Friday's Feature: Zelie Martin and Lady in Blue Shop

Zelie Martin

"As soon as she returned home Zélie began her work. She found her lace-making compatible with motherhood, as it did not take her out of her home. She had about fifteen women working for her and every Thursday they came to bring their work and collect the cotton and their instructions for the next week. Zélie assembled the pieces which they brought to her. She always had time for her children, writing to the two eldest frequently, recounting all the little details of life at home."

The above excerpt is from a biographical blog* on the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, Zelie and Louis Martin. The description of a day in the life of Zelie reveals that she must have understood the need to be in the home tending to her family, but not to the exclusion of developing her talents both for financial and personal growth. By the grace of God, she was apparently able to perform her vocation as a mother while, at the same time, undertake an art which was beneficial to all.

As Catholic artists, we are called to do the same...perform the duties of our vocation while employing the talents given to us by God to enhance our lives and the lives of those around us.

Rhonda at Lady in Blue on Etsy writes in her profile "I am an artist/designer/traditional Catholic mom of 3. When I'm not chasing after the kids, I'm painting, sewing, baking or somehow creating." Ah, she sounds a bit like Zelie, no? And she has something else in common with Zelie. She works with lace and makes these beautiful chapel veils.

These three veils are only a small sample of Rhonda's talent. Her other works of art can be found at http://www.etsy.com/shop/LadyinBlueShop.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

On St. Rose of Lima, Eternal Beauty and Pure Wool Felt

St. Rose of Lima lived in the 16th century in Lima, Peru. It is said she was baptized Isabel but was nicknamed Rose. One story about St. Rose has made the biggest impression on me. It is said that she was very beautiful which made many men seek her hand in marriage. However, she wanted to dedicate her life to God. How do you get a bunch of avid suitors to leave you alone? The answer for Rose was to become ugly. It is not certain how she accomplished this. Was it a skin ailment, a disease, or was it something she put on her face? No one knows for sure. The important thing is that she prayed to God and He answered her. And in this age where physical beauty supposedly outweighs wisdom, grace and purity of soul we should look to her to bring our priorities back to us. For, this life is so short. Why waste it on what must pass rather than what will be eternal? Ironically, her beauty is said to have returned to her once she entered the convent. I suppose this is God's joke on her superficial suitors and everyone who cannot see where beauty really resides. She died at the young age of 31.

The doll pictured here I handmade with mostly natural materials. Her body is wire wrapped in cotton embroidery floss and her clothes are pure wool felt. Why do I use pure wool felt as it is a bit more expensive? Well, it smells great when it comes to me. Also, I love to get a new order of felt so I can admire the richness of the colors. I love color. As you can see in the photo I embellished her habit a little with her deep pink wrapped legs and sleeves and the array of flowers on her crown. I'm an artist - I can do that! But mostly, I love the durability of the wool felt. I have been making dolls for my daughters since 2008 and the felt holds up very well. True - it will shrink if it goes through the dryer (as some of our dolls have done) but it lasts so much better than the much cheaper craft felt I get from the chain stores which starts to pill after a few days! Also, it is authentic. It comes from sheep and wool is what many of the saints would have worn. I even made a hand-embroidered brown scapular from some of my wool felt for my husband. The one he had been wearing was nothing but tatters as he had been wearing it for a long time. It was given to us by a very good friend who is a Carmelite nun, and I knew only a special scapular could ever replace it.

So, the lesson for today ~ put store in what lasts ~ quality wool felt and eternal beatitude. :)

(Sorry this is a day late!)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Friday Feature: St. Bernard and Rosa Mystica

Today, August 20th, is the Feast of St. Bernard of Clairvaux who died in 1153. A well-educated man, he and 12 others founded the monastery of Clairvaux in the Diocese of Champagne in France. Over time, he became well known in Europe and advised popes and political leaders. He had a special love for Mary and promoted the Memorare. He has been named one of the Doctors of the Church for his eloquent and persuasive defense of the Faith. He is the patron saint of skiers, mountain climbers, beekeepers, and candle makers.

Susan at Rosa Mystica has made a mold from a vintage piece depicting St. Bernard in the mountains. She cast from this mold a fine silver medal of the good saint. What a wonderful name sake gift for a baptism or confirmation!

Rosa Mystica also sells vintage and antique medals and presently has 103 items in her shop. Do take a look at www.etsy.com/shop/rosamystica to see if she has just the medal you have been looking for.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hello from Rosa Mystica!

My name is Susan Monroe and I operate Rosa Mystica, and Etsy shop specializing in vintage and vintage-style religious medals and jewelry.  Here's a little about myself and a link in case you would like to visit!  http://www.rosamystica.etsy.com/

What inspired you to start an Etsy shop:

I had a shop on Ebay for several years that sold vintage religious medals.  I loved it, but it was LOTS of work!  I always had to be listing new items, mailing listings that had ended, and keeping track of which listings ended on which days.  I was spending way more time on the computer than I liked, and since the listings were auction-style, I wasn't able to set fair prices.  Some medals were sold for much more than they were worth, while others went for a song.
Enter Etsy!  When I saw that it had a vintage section, I was thrilled and pretty soon I had abandoned Ebay for Etsy.  I find with my Etsy store, I spend much less time on the computer, I'm able to control my pricing, and I can sell the jewelry and hand cast medals that I enjoy making in addition to vintage pieces. 
Tell us about your art:
I've always loved the connection antique items have to the past.  When I see a beautiful antique medal, I think about who has worn it, where it's been, and what it meant to the original owner.  I love giving these items a second life with new owners who will continue to cherish and enjoy these medals for years to come. 
I also have a great devotion to the communion of saints.  I was not born Catholic, but converted after I was married.  I initially had a difficult time understanding saints, but as I came to appreciate their love for us and understand that the live on in heaven caring for us, I wanted to learn more and more about each of them.  However, I was still unsure about actually "praying to" a saint.  I read a little book on St Therese of Lisieux and decided that I would try praying to her, but only if it was pleasing to Jesus!  So I prayed that Jesus and St Therese would show me that it was ok by sending me a rose. 
After a few days, I came in one evening to find the mail stacked on our front table.  On the top of the mail were two booklets.  On the top was a little inspirational book of Catholic prayers that had come that afternoon.  Jesus was looking up at me from the cover.  It was the most beautiful picture of him that I had ever seen!  (I later came to find out that it was from St Faustina's Divine Mercy picture).  Immediately beneath it was a gardening catalogue with "Our Catalogue of 1000 Roses!" boldy written across the cover!  I instantly knew that this was an answer to my prayer - especially when my husband told me that he had thrown the devotional book in the trash (!!!) and then fished it back out to put on the front table because he thought I might like it.
OK, now that I look back on what I've written, I'm not sure how much it tells about my art!  But I think it tells about the inspiration behind my art of re-cast vintage religious medals and selling true vintage and antique medals.  I just want to tell everyone about the human stories, devotion, and holiness of the saints so people will know that they are our friends in heaven.
Where do you create your items:
I have a little sun room off of our living room that I love to use to create jewelry and work with my medals.  It's not air conditioned (which is a problem here in Atlanta!) or heated, but it's peace and quiet make up for that.  And I like how my children or my husband can come in and chat to me any time, but I don't have to be in the middle of everything and can spread out my items as much as I like. 
What is your favorite devotion?
My favorite devotion is the scriptural rosary.  In the middle ages, those praying the rosary frequently said a verse of scripture before saying each Hail Mary as a way to help them focus on the mystery that decade of the rosary invoked.  For example, during the first decade of the Joyful Mysteries where you're suppose to meditate on the Annunciation of Mary, you would say verses associated with that story.  For example:
On the first Hail Mary bead:
"The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the Virgin’s name was Mary. (Lk 1:26-27)
Hail Mary full of grace..."

On the second Hail Mary bead:
"He came to her and said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you! (Lk 1:28)
Hail Mary full of grace..."

There are many scriptural rosary booklets available online, but I use one that I downloaded for free from the following site:  http://www.cukierski.net/scripturalrosary/scripturalrosary.shtml

Thanks for taking the time to read about my Etsy site and my work!  If  you're interested in learning more about vintage religious medals, please visit my blog:  http://catholiccollector.blogspot.com/

A medal I cast from a mold made from a vintage medal in my collection.  It shows the Angel Gabriel.

A beautiful antique medal showing the suffering Christ before his crucifixion.

A necklace I made from a broken vintage rosary.

St. Helena and a Treasury devoted to the True Cross

Tomorrow is the feast day of one of my favorite female saints, St. Helena. Her main claim to fame is being the person who was blessed to have discovered the True Cross of Christ. Catholic.org offers the following bio for St. Helena:

St. Helena was the Empress mother of Constantine the Great. She was a native of Bithynia, who married the then Roman general Constantius I Chlorus about 270. Constantine was born soon after, and in 293, Constantius was made Caesar, or junior emperor. He divorced Helena to marry co Emperor Maximian’s stepdaughter. Constantine became emperor in 312 after the fateful victory at Milvian Bridge, and Helena was named Augusta, or empress. She converted to Christianity and performed many acts of charity, including building churches in Rome and in the Holy Land. On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Helena discovered the True Cross. She is believed to have died in Nicomedia. Her porphyry sarcophagus is in the Vatican Museum. Geoffrey of Monmouth, England, started the legend that Helena was the daughter of the king of Colchester, a tradition no longer upheld. In liturgical art Helena is depicted as an empress, holding a cross.

In honor of this amazing woman and her devotion to the True Cross, here are some of the my favorite items from the Catholic Etsy Artists Guild inspired by the cross of our Lord.

Saint Helena, pray for us!

God Bless!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Friday's Feature: The Assumption and Hand Crafted Flowers by St. Jude's Creations

Fine Art Print on Demand of The Assumption of Mary by Andrea <span class=

Now, in the middle of a hot and humid Virginia August, we find ourselves ready to celebrate the refreshing Feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven, body and soul. As we struggle through this valley of tears, which is the lot of fallen humanity, the celebration of this feast fills us with the hope of resurrection, heaven, and all good things. Mary's Assumption is the sure sign that the pure of heart will see God.

But the Blessed Virgin Mary does not keep her purity to herself. No, instead, she shares it with other created beings. Certainly God allows creation to reflect her immaculate heart in clean fallen snow, an infant's giggle, a newly professed nun. And Catholic artists then attempt to capture such purity in their reproductions of creation.

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At St. Jude's Creations, Maria has demonstrated the simplicity and innocence of Our Lady in this bouquet of the stephanotis flower. She writes in her description that each flower is painstakingly handmade of clay and embellished with a swaroski crystal center. Lovely...

Wedding cake topper - white peony

In this gorgeous piece, the pink of a fully bloomed peony has the Marian qualities of femininity and gentleness. St. Jude's Creations labels this a wedding cake topper, but it would be just as appropriate sitting in a shallow vase (no need for water) near a sunny window. Does it not look real?

St. Jude's Creations also uses paper in a most realistic way. The bouquet below is created with crepe paper and the vibrant red brings to mind the love that Our Lady has for her Son and for us.

Red anemone floral arrangement centerpiece
As Sunday, August 15th, arrives, let us rejoice in the triumphant Assumption of Mary, the beauty in the created world, and the lovely art at St. Jude's Creations. Maria's work can be found at http://www.etsy.com/shop/stjudescreations

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Friday's Featured Artist

The Catholic tradition of beauty in art is ages old. This image of a painting by Fra Angelico from the fifteenth century is such an example. Not only is the subject of the Annunciation a profound and glorious one, but the execution of the work depicts the quiet splendor of that moment. As the Angel Gabriel brings the message of the Incarnation of our Lord to Mary and she lovingly accepts, Fra Angelico implements soft yet glowing colors and shading in such a way as to bring the veiwer into the moment. Thus the purpose of Catholic art...the raising of our hearts and minds to God.

Fra Angelico: The Annunciation

Here at Catholic Etsy Artists Guild, the artists and crafters attempt and succeed in that purpose by the grace of God. Some of us create Catholic themed works of art while others create items of beauty from nature. Each Friday, starting on August 13th, a member of the Guild will be featured along with their chosen art form. In this way, we will be able to see a reflection of the beauty of God through the talent He has instilled in various Catholic artists here at the Guild.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Nice to meet you! Ann from CherubinoCrafts' shop inroduction

Hello there! This is Ann from CherubinoCrafts and I am so happy to be part of the Catholic Etsy Artists Guild! Our member shops offer a wonderful assortment of handmade goodness. Here's a little background information on my little shop.

What inspired you to start an Etsy shop:

I have four kids ages 7, 5, 3, and 1. With everything going on in my life, I was looking for a way to incorporate selling my crafts into my crazy schedule! My sister had suggested I open an Etsy shop years ago, but at that time I only had two children and it was so much easier than it is now to do craft shows, sell on Craigslist and Ebay, etc. When #3 and #4 came along, it got harder and harder to find a creative outlet that didn't suck all my time! I stopped doing the old things, and started selling my work and teaching an occasional art class at a local studio. It was so much fun, but I wanted something on a regular basis that I could include the kids in. That's when the lightbulb went on! I set up my little shop, and love being a part of Etsy!

Tell us about your art:

I am a self-professed romantic, with a healthy measure of earthmama mixed in! My crafts reflect this, and are feminine and earthy items like moss topiaries, faux and dried floral arrangements, decor for home and weddings. In the spring I feature handwoven May Crowns. In addition to the above, I also make unique corn husk dolls, tabletop pieces, and creative children's items. My corn husk dolls are something I love sharing with my daughter. It's only Gianna and me in a house full of boys, so we like making pretty things together. If Dad and her brothers had their way, the whole house would be Chicago Bears blue and orange!

Pictures of your work:

Where do you create your items?

Since our move to Wisconsin, my sweet husband is currently working on a little workshop for me. For the meantime, I work where and when I can-- usually with all my little helpers fluttering about!

What is your favorite devotion?

It's so hard to pick just one! My husband's family is Italian, so we love dear Saint Joseph and host a big San Giuseppe feast in his honor each March 19th. I also love Franciscan spirituality with its abundant love of all God's creatures and the natural world. I have a special devotion to JPII. I also love my guardian angel and frequently seek his help in everything from keeping my family safe to helping me find good parking spots so I don't have to walk a long way with all the little ones!

Please visit my little shop and feel free to offer any suggestions or ask any questions you might have! God's Blessings to you!