Liturgical StolesIn 2007, I was commissioned to create five stoles for Jeff Seaton who was about to be ordained as a United Church minister. My suggestion that neckties be considered for the primary fabrics, and that these be collected from his church community, was enthusiastically received. Within a few months the congregation had gathered about 300 ties from their closets - my palette was full!
I transformed these ties - decorative bits of fabric which used to hang around male necks and might at some time have represented power, authority and domination - into another set of decorative items, but with religious meaning, to hang around the new minister’s neck. Stoles symbolize worship leadership, and having been gifts from his faith community and his family are reminders of their love and support. I sensed these strong relationships very clearly while creating the stoles, and as a result, the project became deeply significant for me.
The stoles pictured on this page were specifically made for Jeff. One of the pleasures of working with neckties is that they are little bits of gorgeous fabrics. Once they're used up, that's it - I have had very few duplicate ties come my way. As a result, stoles made for anyone else will be similar to these only in terms of the construction and overall colour. My design ideas are quite often inspired by the ties themselves.
The white and gold stole is used for baptisms, weddings, Christmas, Easter and other important holy days. The descending dove represents the Holy Spirit. This stole was made primarily from Seaton family linens. I was thrilled to be able to incorporate a decorative trim and monogram from a vintage hand towel along the lower hems.
The green stole is for “Ordinary Time” which is about half the year. Green symbolizes growth and new life, both in the world around us and as a people. I used blue-green, green and yellow-green ties to signify that from water springs life. On the back is the tri-spiral design, often called a Celtic spiral or cross, carved into the wall of a megalithic tomb at Newgrange, Ireland. This was a special place of pilgrimage for Jeff and his partner Don.
Red for Pentecost represents dynamic spirituality and the passion of being on fire with the Spirit. The diagonal lines create a dynamic and active mood.
Purple is the colour used for Lent, a time of preparation. The horizontal lines of this design help to create a mood of waiting and contemplation. On the lower edge, “…two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.” (Matt.27:38)
Blue for Advent is for anticipation and the colour of hope. On the back… “There shall a star from Jacob come forth, and a scepter from Israel rise up.” (Numbers 24:17).