I have been feeling a bit like a production sewing facility behind the scenes here for the last little while. I finished the embroidery on the final chalice veil and then… well time to actually finish them properly, set the corners and sew the backing onto each one. A bit of chore but a necessary part of the job. Now they are all done, pressed and folded into their box and ready to go off on their travels. So let me explain…
Over the years I have been honoured to make various items for the celebration of Mass by a priest who works in prison ministry. These veils will be used in prisons. In shared worship space with little scope for permanent decoration.
The (amazing) volunteer who connected with me about these asked for four veils in the basic liturgical colours. No problem, said I! A brief chat and we were going to do something pretty simple using ecclesiastical braid to form the crosses. A quick job naturally – as if…!
But then, Oh dear…
Sorry Grandma – I was disobedient! Or was I…?
I couldn’t make it work, I pulled out the materials, a couple of different braids I have in the studio and nope, something just wouldn’t sit. I went for a walk, had a coffee… you know, all the usual procrastination stuff!! Nada.
There was this niggle going on. Really annoying when that happens. No, the standard set of four veils just wasn’t going to cut the mustard. There was this odd requirement that this be more, better, and once I gave in to that prompting, my fingers knew what to do.
As I worked these embroideries using silks and fine embroidery threads, my heart understood what this was about.
I do not wear rose coloured spectacles, I have been a victim of crime, but what is, or should, prison be about? Is it lock ’em up and throw away the key? Or is it become a better version of yourself, become what God intended you to be?
The symbolism of eight also struck me, baptismal fonts frequently have eight sides…
Christ, the New Adam, is the eighth day of Creation…
So those hours of stitching became prayer, for renewal and healing. New beginnings and good purpose. A falling away of distortion and becoming what God intended, which is good.
Here are the underpinnings! Mitred corners as usual, am I not a clever thing with all that neat stitching? Although I confess there are some bits which are not quite perfect – but are we not all imperfect?!
I rather enjoyed this bit, neatly packing them up. But they have been in my studio for far too long, time to be put to use! Thank you, Father M. and all the prison ministry volunteers, truly amazing, good people.
I’m honoured to help you.