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.
Michelmas is upon us- where did the summer go? Some of us are still cleaning up after Hurricane Irene, and many church yards lost venerable trees and plantings in the big wind. September brings everyone back from vacations, and at church, ministries and programs are getting up and running again as a new year starts.
Now is the time to have a good look around the sacristy to see what the humid summer months have done. This is a good time to replenish supplies, air out cupboards and drawers, and have a good look at what needs repairing or cleaning.
I enjoyed visiting Grace Church last month, and meeting Marty, the directress there. She graciously showed me around the sacristy and showed me some of the wonderful textiles in inventory. I will be putting up a slide show very soon.
A question arose as I was looking at inventory to relocate to other parishes. Should low mass sets be broken up? The answer is simply, NO!!
A low mass set is comprised of chasuble, stole, burse, chalice veil and maniple. Although many churches have stopped using maniples, chalice veils and burses, should the set ever be either sold or relocated, a COMPLETE set is more valuable, and might be used in another parish. If the humeral veil, tunicle, dalmatic, cope, frontal and stoles and maniples are added to that list above, you have a Solemn High Mass set of vestments. A few years ago we located such a set in the inventory of the textile school at URI- and how exciting it was to see every single piece still there! So, before you toss out or give up individual pieces of a set, be sure the rest of the set is beyond repair, sale, or relocating.
* Blessed vestments and linens, of course, must be burned when they are no longer fit to be used.
Recently we heard from Maureen who completed this beautiful altar linen using one of the patterns here on our website. Congratulations! It took her over 500 HOURS of work. Elizabeth Morgan, author of Sewing Church Linens, helped with the making up of the fair linen. This is magnificent- thanks for sharing your photos, Maureen. Christmas was a perfect time to present this wonderful gift at the altar.
Twice a year the beautiful rose vestments come out of storage. I often receive requests for rose vestments, and no other color is so hard to supply. In fact, I have never received a set of rose vestments to relocate. There’s always plenty of green, and a fair amount of white vestments . Red and violet are more difficult. Since rose is used only twice a year in Lent and Advent (Laetare and Gaudete Sundays), they remain in storage and in great condition with minimum fading and wear. Some parishes have had their rose vestments for over a century! Conceived as a “refreshment” from the penitential season’s violet or purple, the rose candle and rose hangings and vestments are much-enjoyed by the congregation. Below is a handsome High Solemn Mass set featuring chasuble, tunicle and dalmatic. I am sorry I cannot identify the clergy, the parish is All Saints. Do you have a photo of your rose set to share?
“Presently, my firm is redesigning the sacristy at our church which was originally built in @ 1950. This is the only article that I have been able to find on the subject although our clergy has tried to contact a number of churches for suggestions. Thank you!
In reponse to today’s post on Adelaide’s white chasuble,
“What can you do if you already dry-cleaned the vestment? Is it ruined for life? Also my fabric is more of a brocade or satin type would you use the same procedure to clean it?” YOYA
satins (usually used for linings)
100% silk damask weave (read all about it )http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damask
Good question. Yes, it is entirely possible to “set” a stain such as an oil-based neckline stain by having the vestment dry-cleaned. We are blessed in this state to have expert restoration and cleaning services by people trained in conservation at the University of Rhode Island. I call for advice if I am stumped. If you have the slightest doubt- check with someone who KNOWS what to do. It takes seconds to ruin a textile, maybe permanently. If your vestment is really in a bad state, the university (Quinn Hall, see the link on this site or click here http://www.uri.edu/hss/tmd/Test.htm) has experts who will be able to restore and refresh just about anything. I have seen the work done in the lab, and it is amazing what the right resource for your problem can do. If you ever stop by Saint Peter’s -by-the -Sea (and you should!), check out the fantastic vintage chasuble restored by U.R.I. which is in a showcase near the narthex. Amazing- you should have seen what they had to start with! You can call for an appointment to bring in your vestment for a consultation and estimate of cost for work which will restore or refresh the garment. In some cases, you may just have to live with some stains which may never entirely disappear. Others can be made much less visible. Another very helpful link to read is this one http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.viewpage&pageid=634
Prevention is more than half the battle. Proper storage and practices which will reduce soiling and abrasion, insect infestation, proper ventilation, ideal humidity and temperature control, cleaning and handling procedures, etc. will go a long way toward extending the life of expensive vestments and antependia- and need not cost the earth to carry out in your little sacristy.
The way to attack stains before racing off to the dry cleaner is to know what your garment is composed of- this is KEY. There are problems and issues specific to various fiber types, animal proteins like wool or silk, plant fibers like linen or cotton and synthetics. It is also helpful to know the vestment house, and if possible, when the vestment was constructed which may give a clue about fiber content and where to go to start pinning down answers. If it is a memorial vestment, there may be a record of the donation in the office. If you have this information, a call to the vestment house which constructed your garment can often give you helpful hints on the fiber you are dealing with and how best to clean it. Try to keep the neckline tags inside the vestment or parament hem on the textile. Frontals often have dates embroidered on the lining if the set was a memorial. Of course we ALL have things in our closets which have lost all of this valuable information, and we are CLUELESS what the fiber content is. Altar guild secretaries, or sacristans might consider keeping this sort of information documented when new items are ordered, along with the inventory which ALL sacristies should have. Copies of invoices, packing lists, or correspondence when the vestment order is filled can be copied to keep in Altar Guild records. New members will be coming to the guild in the future and any information on sacristy contents, textile or metalware or other material can be vitally important.
You need to know if you have an oil or water-based stain, or a combination of both. Wet-cleaning has its hazards- watermarks, or “tide” marks may be left when using water or detergent solutions.
Finally, vestments usually have more than one type of fiber involved in one garment, maybe a satin lining under silk damask, maybe rayon, cotton, “polyester, vicose, or blends. Trims are loaded with metallic threads, silk embroidery. etc. I would certainly seek out a reputable dry cleaner for silk, silk damask, and satins if the vestment is heavily soiled, or a conservation resource such as found at the university or a museum. Wet-cleaning is not for amateurs and it can weaken some fibers (as I have sadly learned over the years- yes, I have ruined a few things on the way to gaining knowledge!) 🙂 If you would like to send some photos of your damask chasuble, it would be very valuable to see the stains and the vestment.
Thanks for the photos, Adelaide. (scroll down to see the photo slideshow) I am glad to see the hanger is not one of the wire variety. You might consider padding the ends of the hanger with a little foam or batting to ease the stress on the shoulders. Wow- the neckline IS grime-y! Hard to believe that chasuble ever saw the front door of a professional dry cleaners. First, let’s look at those reddish spots. They appear to be rust. Your fabric looks like a light wool in a twill-like weave. I think we will have to attempt spot cleaning on this chasuble. You will need a Q-tip and a bottle of WINK rust remover. First, apply WINK to the Q-tip and test a drop on the inside hem of the chasuble to see if any discoloration occurs. Then with cold water, blot out all traces of the WINK with a white cotton rag (Carbona is another brand of rust dissolver). Now check in a few minutes and see if there is any discoloration. Then proceed to try the WINK on one of those red rust spots. The red should come out very quickly. Apply the cold water once the red is gone and blot out the WINK residue. Blot with a white terry towel to dry . This will be a bit time consuming but worth it. Work “small” with as little product as possible for spot cleaning. Hence the Q-tip!
The grime around the neckline is unbelievable! Oh if we could only convince our beloved clergy to wear an amice again! It costs about 30 dollars for a cotton amice which you can wash in a machine- and $800-$1200 PLUS to buy a new chasuble! Here is what I would try first. Line the neckline with a fluffy white cotton terry towel so it fits all around inside the neck opening. Grime around the collar is oil- based, human sebum attracting and holding the dust and dirt. Summer is the time perspiration and body oils are even worse. *Note to amice-less clergy – wash your necks with soap and water with special care! 🙂 Get a close shave on the beard under the chin, and make-up and perfumes are not kind to chasubles. So we approach this as an oil-based stain. Read more about oil-based stains here http://www.si.edu/mci/english/learn_more/taking_care/stains.html
This will take plenty of patience and multiple applications in most cases. Let’s start with a couple inches of the grime first. Take one cup of luke-warm water and add two DROPS of “ALL free and clear detergent”. ALL free and clear has no dyes and perfumes and is an excellent detergent to always have on hand. Do not use a sponge. A linen or cotton cloth (white) is the tool to use to apply the detergent. Blot on the detergent/water solution. Blot in one direction, don’t rub back and forth, this will cause abrasion to the threads. You may need to do this procedure several times to get the grime out. Be sure to rinse in clear water to finish and remove all the detergent. Blot up excess water with a clean white towel, patting dry. Let’s try this first and if you do not get the desired result, we will go on to more drastic measures! Keep us posted.
Of all the symbols of Easter, perhaps none is so familiar as the Agnus Dei. We see it in woven damask for frontals and vestments, on banners and even on special small linen sets for the altar. It must be crowned with a three-rayed nimbus or halo, signifying that it is a symbol of divinity and is featured with the white ground, red cross Banner of Victory.
The LAMB is the symbol associated with Jesus. He is often referred to in the Bible as the “Lamb of God” (Revelation 5:6-14). John the Baptist described Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The Passover lamb (Exodus 12:1-11) has been interpreted by Christians as foreshadowing Jesus’ sacrificial death (1 Corinthians 5:7).
Although the white lily is most often connected to the Mother of God, and is a symbol for purity and innocence, the EASTER LILY, which blooms in the spring close to Easter time has become a popular symbol. Because they are shaped like trumpets, lilies are symbols of immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52). Lilies are seen as pot decoration and cut for altar vases for Easter as well as motifs on church altar rail kneelers, stained glass windows, Easter bulletin decoration and Easter banners.
More rarely seen in decoration or textiles is the BUTTERFLY. It symbolizes the life cycle of Jesus and the Christian in the following order: the caterpillar stage represents natural earthly life; the cocoon represents death of the body; the butterfly emerging from the cocoon represents the resurrection. Another animal connected to the resurrection is the PHOENIX. Believed to have retained its immortality since, unlike the rest of the birds, it refused to eat from the forbidden tree in the garden of Eden.The phoenix lived for 500 years between rejuvenations. Every 500 years, it created a combination funeral pyre/nest for itself of spices and herbs, sat on it and set itself on fire. When the fire died down, an egg would be found among the ashes from which the phoenix which laid it would hatch. It has become a symbol of the resurrection.
Rarely seen in America as a symbol of the resurrection is the SWALLOW which flew around the cross chirping “Svale! Svale!” which is Scandinavian for “Cheer up! Cheer up!” Since this bird hibernates in the mud during the winter, his awakening in the spring is a symbol of the resurrection.
Another rare symbol is the WHALE for as Jesus said “For as Jonas was 3 days and 3 nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth” (Mt 12:40).
The HARE, or wild rabbit is a symbol of the moon. It became associated with Easter because the moon is used to determine the date of Easter. According to the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 21st. Have you ever seen this in church? It just might explain the “Easter Bunny” popularity in modern culture at Eastertide.
The PEACOCK Symbolizes immortality and the resurrection since its flesh was once believed to be incorruptible or immune to decay. The peacock damask below was found in a Rhode Island chasuble
The LION and EGG are other resurrection symbols. In the Bible, Jesus is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah. The genealogies of the New Testament point out that Jesus was a descendant of Judah from whom the eternal ruler was to come. The EGG shell can be seen as a nurturing, life giving tomb. The hatching chick represents Christ emerging from the tomb. The resurrection symbolism of the egg is enhanced by the legend of the phoenix.
Do you know of other symbols for the resurrection?
It’s always lovely to receive mail and today I was especially delighted to hear from Pat Ford who has a terrific website called Fiber Figments featuring knitting patterns for the altar and sacristy for hand knitters. http://fiberfigments.com/default.aspx We have featured many crochet patterns (with more to come) but this is something new for those who prefer knitting. I can manage the knitting basics, but am one of those “crochet people”, but I know we have many avid knitters out there. Just look at this!
You will really enjoy seeing the exquisite knitted frontlet which can be seen at this pdf file link from a Georgia church newsletter. http://georgia.anglican.org/images/5publications.pdfs/2009-10ciga.pdf
Any other busy needles out there? Thanks for writing in and sharing your beautiful work, Pat! I have added “Knitting Patterns” to our catagories section.
While searching out last year’s boxed cards, I found a few photos from 2000 at St. John the Evangelist in Newport. I will post some of these over the next few days leading up to Christmas Eve. This one is probably a good one for this weekend as I imagine all over America the Altar Guild has been busy polishing brass and silver! How I wish I had a digital camera back in those days!
This was our first “”white Christmas”- no red poinsettias. The altar frontal was our oldest dating to about the building of the church in 1893. This was the year of taking out all of our old brass, polishing it like the top of the Chrysler Building(which took weeks of hard work) – and putting up the huge altar cross which had been given from historic Trinity church when St. John’s was a mission on The Point. The altar decoration was copied identically from one of the oldest photos in the church archive. I forget exactly how many candles went up- over 40- but Father said the heat was terrific and he needed oven mitts and an asbestos chasuble!
What did our brass squad use? MAAS metal cleaner-much better than Brasso or Never Dull. And for silver?- Wright’s silver cream!
Outside were white bag luminaries up and down the street and up the front steps of Washington St. White velvet ribbons, white poinsettias and white roses on the altar- truly a Night of Light to remember always.
This Sunday marks a very important feast in the church year, as well as closing the church Year B. We take down the green hangings which have been up so long in the Season After Pentecost. Now is a good time to get those cleaned and steamed. Next Sunday we will find ourselves in Advent I, the birthday of the church. Christ the King, sometimes called Feast of the Reign of Christ in some parishes, is a feast for extra care in preparation of the altar and decorations. The best white set of vestments and hangings are brought out, touches of gold or silver are appropriate, the brass should gleam, and white flowers are particularly lovely. Next Sunday will mark a great change as the altar once again becomes subdued, flowers are put aside until Christmas Eve. In some parishes boxwood or plain evergreens might be seen sparingly. The Advent wreath becomes a focal point. Some parishes will use a “Christ Candle” of white in the center of the Advent wreath of three purple and one rose candle. This white candle will be lit on Christmas Eve at midnight services.
Some churches in our diocese have a cross bearing the Christus Rex in their sanctuaries. Christ Church in Westerly has a large one in the side chapel. Some church supply catalogues sell the figure alone or on a cross in several sizes and ready to be mounted on the wall.
The time for preparation begins for Altar Guilds all over the world: ordering candles and bobeches, writing and mailing the annual Flower Memorials letter, checking on supplies of wine and bread, placing orders at local nurseries and flower shops, polishing brass and silver, pressing the best linens, ordering incense, polishing the thurible, tidying sacristies for the busy days to come, and the many other little services performed by faithful hands year in and year out as the great Feast of the Nativity approaches. The sweet-smelling quiet of the sacristy is a wonderful place to be at this time of year.
Recently we discussed the symbolism of the pelican as used in church art, textiles and architecture. Two other birds often seen in ecclesiastical usage are the phoenix and the peacock. The peacock is a symbol of immortality because it was once believed that the peacock’s flesh did not decay after death. Early Christian paintings and mosaics use peacock imagery. Peacock feathers are sometimes seen used as church decorations or in floral arrangements during the Easter season.
The peacock replaces his feathers annually; therefore the peacock is also a symbol of renewal. The early Christians praised the many “eyes” in its feathers as signs of the all-seeing God. The fabric swatch above showing a peacock motif is from a rose-violet cope from the 1950’s.
Early belief held that the Gates of Paradise are guarded by a pair of peacocks. Augustine refers to peacocks as a symbol of the resurrection.
In early Catholic art, literature and Catholic symbolism, the Phoenix is a symbol of Christ, representing his resurrection, immortality, and life-after-death. It has been an ancient and universal symbol of the sun and mystical rebirth in many cultures. The legendary red “fire bird” was believed to die in its self-made flames periodically (each hundred years, according to some sources) then rise again out of its own ashes. The phoenix is a popular motif for kneelers, as shown below in needlepoint.