Do you know about the beautiful needlework kits and supplies of Elizabeth Bradley? Tired of those coloring book-like cartoon patterns for kneelers? Visit the home page at http://www.elizabethbradley.com/theamericas/ to see the beautiful floral, fruit, and animal needlepoint kits, fine wools in 154 muted colors of four-ply tapestry wool. There are also border patterns and mini kits of 6- inch motifs.
I have received quite a few requests for patterns for vestments. Simplicity used to have a good one for cassocks and cottas and surplices. If anyone here has suggestions, please drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org so we may post the resource. Beryl Dean has eucharistic vestment patterns in several of her books, but these I find must be enlarged and the directions are not easy to follow. Elizabeth Morgan has a few patterns on her site http://www.churchlinens.com/sewing_church_linens.htm
This site offers supplies and vestment-making seminars http://www.sewvestment.com/
Here are pre-cut vestment kits.
This response just in today: Thanks, Mary!
“Oh, one other recommendation–I’ve bought lots of simply stupendous trim at incredible prices from the vendor “Heritage Trading” on ebay (http://stores.ebay.com/Heritage-Trading). They ship direct from India–the craftmanship and the quality is just jaw droppingly stunning.”
Yes, when Church of the Advent in Boston refurbished a frontal, the trims from Turkey were amazing. India has spectacular metallic thread work in tassels, fringe and gallooning.
Happy New Year! I have been down with the flu bug along with many others for the past two weeks. I am hoping you have taken many great photos of your church decorated for Christmas and will share with us here.
The catalogues are starting to come into my office so it must be January! I love looking through all of the religious goods catalogues and finding new items. You may want to keep one of those stand-up storage files in your sacristy for your supply catalogues. Almy’s and Egan’s usually are sent routinely to the church office, but all companies will be delighted to send a catalogue and sometimes even fabric swatches and samples upon request. If you have a good resource, please send me the company name so we can share it here. I will be posting catalogue resources this year beginning with Monastery Icons http://www.monasteryicons.com/
The company has a beautiful line of icons. I ordered the St. Damiano crucifix to the left a few years ago for Taize prayer services. You will enjoy surfing their website for cards, beautiful jewelry, statues, garden statuary, Celtic designs, incense, banners, and many other kinds of religious items. There is a link on the site to request a free catalogue. Perhaps someone in your altar guild will be appointed to maintain a catalogue supply archive for your sacristy. It is always a help to have a catalogue with photos at the ready when a donor comes forward wishing to donate an item to the church.
Recently I received an email asking me to recommend an iron for ironing fair and small linens. You’ll want to iron linens quite damp and ideally chilled from your refrigerator. For some reason linen fibers lie down and behave nicely when they are chilled before pressing. You can spend between 30- 150 dollars for a steam iron. The thing is, you do not need steam for pressing damp linens-the idea is to press and dry these items at the same time. A metal soleplate is essential- and one without steam vents is superior and will not leave steam hole “tracks”. I am not a fan of plastic irons, yes, they may be lighter but they do not get the job done. I will cheerfully “pump iron” of 5 pounds with a steel soleplate just like my Mom’s from the 1950’s.
At last I found a source for the steel soleplate, traditional DRY iron which is perfect for ironing wet linen- without the steam holes. Please check out this link http://www.vermontcountrystore.com/browse/Home/For-The-Home/Household-Cleaning/Laundry/Dry-Iron/D/30100/P/1:100:1030:10340:101110/I/f06328?evar3=BROWSE# for Vermont Country Stores and by all means watch the video about this product which is on the same page. At around 30 dollars- this is the iron for your linens and cottons. Every sacristy should have this, and a sturdy, serviceable iron board.
Well, I have left the two rarest of the veils till last. If anyone has either of these in their sacristy- please do share a photo with us. The photo at the left is an ornamental gremial veil, which is worn rather like an apron by a Bishop or Archbishop conferring Orders. It is purely ornamental in this case and you can see it is not utilitarian in any sense. There is however another type of gremial veil worn during the anointing at Confirmation. Sometimes a large amice is substituted upon the lap of the Bishop. The purpose of this veil is to protect the vestments of the Bishop, therefore it should be made of plain white linen or cotton (linen is preferred), and is rarely ornamented. I have seen the faldstool at St. John’s Bowdoin Street in Boston http://stjev.org/ and it is when the Bishop is seated on the faldstool at the center, ready to receive those about to be confirmed or received, that the gremial veil is spread upon the lap. This is usually done by an attendant of the bishop or the Master of Ceremonies. Never seen a faldstool? They come both plain and fancy and are very convenient for the bishop. If your parish does not have one, they are easy enough to make if you have a talented carpenter parishioner in your midst. The original style has no armrests although modified ones are also seen. . There is an excellent article on the gremial (or gremiale) in Roman Catholic usage, including a photo of Pope Benedict wearing a silk one at this link http://www.templestudy.com/2009/03/20/gremiale-apronlike-catholic-liturgical-vestment/comment-page-1/ I have seen the substitution of a large amice at Confirmation in place of the gremial in several churches in the state. Another thoughtful consideration is to have a small tray containing water in a lavabo bowl and small wedges of fresh cut lemon and a fine linen lavabo towel at the ready near at hand for the bishop to wash off the chrism oil at the end of the anointing. Want to make a gremial veil? It should be about 2 feet wide and 3 feet long.
Pius IX’s very fancy faldstool.
Finally, my last word on veils- I would daresay that there is not a communion rail veil in the state. This long, narrow, embroidered and sometimes lace-adorned linen is fairly obsolete in the United States. Once I thought I had found one in East Greenwich but it turned out to be a very long fair linen. As the name implies, this veil covered the altar rail (also an item seen more rarely) to catch crumbs and drops of consecrated elements. Here is a photo-and the only one I have ever seen. Although we may never have an occasion for some of the items mentioned recently, any good sacristan ought to know the terms and history of all sacristy equipment, past and present.
Hardware stores and automotive stores, and I hear Crate and Barrel and also William Sonoma stores carry Maas products. If you are having trouble finding it, please visit the official Maas website for information on their products and direct ordering. Click on the PRODUCTS tab at the top pf the page to see all the products in the Maas line including metal protector, polishing gloves, cleaning cream and aluminum cleaner, plus combo package deals. http://www.maasinc.com/index.asp
We’ve been chattering about incense this week, but before we leave that interesting topic, and get back to our church crochet and summer gardens, one word about buying the best. Sometimes the complaints about incense use stem from the product being inferior, and leaving an acrid taste in the back of the throat and a lot of coughing. First, make sure the thurible is clean inside the burning chamber. Then get the best charcoal and make sure to leave the wafers or briquettes in the plastic trays in a dry place. Charcoal will absorb odors and humidity. I recommend this Char-Lite product which is available from most suppliers (Egan’s, Will & Baumer, Tally’s, Baker Brothers, etc.). There are 100 wafers per box-a bargain.
Incense has been around since B.C. days and comes in a lot of forms: powdered, nuggets, cones, sticks, Chinese coils,etc. Incense can be in pure form like sage or sandlewood or other plant extracts and barks, or made with a mixture of essential oils, gum arabic, resins, perfumes, and other components. Incense can be burned on charcoal or wood. Charcoal gives a steadier, even heat and is what is needed for the thurible. Incense comes with wonderful names like Priory, Jerusalem, Tsarina, Tudor Rose, Byzantine. The Greek Orthodox church makes exceptional, floral-scented incense. Holy Transfiguration has one called Royal Violet which is spectacular-and offers other “single note” florals such as rose (several varieties), jasmine, etc. and uses pure frankincense as its base. The incense is of a very pure and high quality. Have a look at this link. http://www.thehtm.org/catalog/index.php?cPath=38&osCsid=57561c60ee22b37e3c6501604e86152f
But my all-time favorite incense is made by English monks at Elmore Abbey and is called “Glastonbury”. It has a nice clean smell, is suitable all year ’round and is worth the trouble to obtain. The giftshop at Walsingham stocks it or you can get it at the Abbey Gift Shop at this link http://www.theabbeyshop.com/product_info.php?products_id=511
The monks at Elmore, sadly are but a few these days. Prinknash Abbey also produces very nice incense, among other products, and have produced some glorious music on CD with the nuns of Stanhope Abbey (more on this later). Stanhope Abbey was the inspiration for Rumer Godden’s novel In this House of Brede ( a must-read). I recently learned that Talacre Abbey has closed- lack of vocations to the cloistered life- very sad. The vestments and lace which came out of those convents must be seen to be believed. (More on convent lace later). So it is a great thing to buy incense from the abbeys and support these communities.
So, even if you usually “choke on the smoke”- please try Glastonbury and you will be pleasantly surprised. I was a Methodist (and you can bet there was no smoke on Sundays) for 44 years before being confirmed in the Episcopal Church in 1995, and I became an incense devotee in about 2 weeks. So there is hope for those who fear the smoke! 🙂
Perhaps the most unpleasant item on the to-clean list of brass or silver is a thurible which has a heavy build-up on the inside of the top. The outside is easily taken care of with MAAS- a product for cleaning metalware. I prefer this to Brasso, hands down. MAAS can be purchased in hardware stores and comes in a can, bottle or a tube. Smoky thurible chains are always a challenge. The trick to keeping a shiny thurible is not allowing a build -up to accumulate. I always line the charcoal brazier with heavy duty aluminum foil. It will not show when the thurible is closed and it makes for an easy clean-up when the ashes are cold inside.
The hard work comes in cleaning the inside of the top where the smoke exits through the openings and up inside the very top nooks and crannies. I took a trip to the Greek Orthodox monastery of the Holy Transfiguration in Brookline, Massachusetts to see how they make incense there and most importantly to see how they clean their hand censers and chain thuribles which had delightful jangling jingle bells on the chains. I also visited Church of the Advent on Brimmer Street in Boston and asked the same pressing questions. Seems like there are a few favored products for cleaning out the residue from dry cleaning fluid to acetone. Acetone got the most thumbs up but one must be sure to wear gloves, and work in a well-ventilated space. Acetone is also the active ingredient in fingernail polish remover. Mineral turpentine and even olive oil have been suggested. I tried the olive oil and it takes a LOT of rubbing to get results. Once the inside of the top is spic and span, spray it with PAM non-stick spray for cooking , and wipe away the excess which will help prevent the resin and smoke from sticking as much. This also works on the candle snuffer “bell” end. Tomorrow we will have a chat about incense and self-light charcoal wafers. Using the right products can make a difference in leaving less residue.
Hallelujah! Yes, the source is found for those lovely gold crosses. It has taken me awhile to find Mrs. Newell, who had the cross designed by a friend who was a priest. The company is in Rhode Island and still has the mold or die and will accept a minimum order of 100 pins. There is a small increase in price as the cost of the gold plating and buffing process has increased since 2005 (the year of the last order). The pins at that time sold for $4.50 each and I am glad to report that the new price is only one dollar more at $5.50 each.
This pin is apparently worn all over the Province I area, and not just Rhode Island, as I recently heard from our Provincial Directress, and is especially popular in Massachusetts. So, if you received the round parish guild pin at the Cathedral last weekend, I think we could wear that as a sign of our parish guild, and if you wish, the gold Diocesan cross above it. That’s what I plan to do. Now, the thing is to get together an order. I must have at least 100 pins to get an order together. If you wish pins for your guild-and this request goes out to ALL of Province I, please email me at Revdma@aol.com and let me know your church, city and how many pins you need. I think it will not take long to get enough for an order together. Stay tuned for updates!
Lent has traditionally been a time when convents and guilds repair or create vestments and linens, antependia, and laces. With the cost of buying ready-made vestments from catalogues, creating your own vestments from patterns may be a good option if you are blessed with a person in the parish or guild with sewing skills. It is possible to find good quality fabrics, of traditional pattern from sources other than the usual catalogue suppliers. If only one set of vestments and paraments can be afforded, you may wish to consider a tapestry pattern which utilizes a palette of colors for most of the liturgical year.
When making a Low Mass set ( chasuble, stole, burse and veil, and maniple) keep in mind that they will be worn by many shapes and sizes of clergy. In general, the Gothic or modified Gothic cut is flattering to all body shapes. Good design, quality fabric, and simplicity are guidelines to aim for. Chasubles are much-enhanced by a Y orphrey or a simple center orphrey rather than left plain. Certain patterns which feature a very large motif like St. Nicholas may be wonderful for a cope or frontal, but does not work at all well for smaller items such as a stole or burse.
Before making a final hem in a cope or chasuble, let the finished garment hang on a hanger for about a week, allowing the fabric to “drop” before making the final hemming. A damask, brocade or tapestry chasuble should have a lining to make it hold a shape and drape properly. Below are some excellent links which will be very helpful if your altar guild is considering making paraments or vestments. All offer fabric and trims for sale by the yard.
St. Benet’s Guild http://stbenetsguild.tripod.com/index.htm
(highly recommended) for patterns and fabrics
http://www.mperkins.co.uk/ (United Kingdom source)
I often have been asked for a recommendation for altar wines and wafers. After tasting and testing many varieties for flavor, texture, shelf-life, and price, the Holland-made St. Michael’s whole wheat or white wafer (available in several sizes) gets my endoresement for wafer of choice.
“St. Michael’s Bakery was founded in 1844 by the Roman Catholic Instituut voor Doven (Institute for the Deaf) at Sint-Michielsgestel, Holland to generate funds to provide food and lodging for deaf and hearing-impaired children. Today, St. Michael’s Bakery provides occupational therapy for deaf and hearing-impaired adults and revenue for the International Assistance Program, which is a hallmark of the Instituut voor Doven. The goal of the Institute is to enable the deaf and hearing-impaired to function as independently as possible”. The product arrives in a heavy plastic cannister which keeps the contents fresh and crisp even in humid summer sacristies. To order please contact Meyer Vogelpohl (also request a catalogue) at this link: http://www.mvchurchgoods.com/listing.lasso?id=stMichael&label=communion
We have discussed good altar wines on the site before, but St. Michael’s RED from New York’s Onehda Vineyard has long been a favorite of our bishop, and has found favor among congregations all over the state. It may be ordered by the case (12 bottles) from Egan’s( links on the right side of the website page). The vineyard does not sell direct to churches, only through church suppliers. We will be sampling St. Michael’s bread and wine at the upcoming Altar Guild Gathering on March 28th.
It’s time to get those orders in this week. Marklin Candle Company has always produced a high-quality product, http://www.marklincandledesign.com/paschalcandles.html but their prices have gone up this year as well as shipping. The average 36 inch, 1 15/16″ diameter candle plus shipping is now in the $240 range. An alternative might be a Cathedral Brand Paschal candle which is a good value and may be purchased through Egan Church Supply (also known as Laurence Candle Co.) at 1-800-722-6353. They are located in Millbury Mass. This year’s brochure shows a handsome selection. You will want to have 51% beeswax (both Marklin and Cathedral candles are 51%), the Alpha and Omega symbols, and the year’s numerals 2009 on the candle, and of course the incense grain “nails”.