The year 2012 found me in the Holy Land during Lent. As a vestment maker, I went imagining that a stole would emerge. I was right! The images I encountered spoke to me in very powerful ways and I began to imagine what they would look like as I worked on the design in my mind’s eye. Barely four days into the trip, the design had grown to the point that I began to wonder how it would all fit. That got me to thinking that it needed to be so much more and I worked up the courage to approach my Bishop with a possibility. As we were walking in the wilderness, I approached him and began to tell him all about what I was seeing and drew pictures of the design in the air. I told him it had outgrown a mere stole and needed to be a complete set; but there was a problem… it would have no liturgical color so could not be worn by just anyone, it needed to be his. He listened politely, laughed at me and walked away and I thought to myself, “great, that didn’t go over so well…”
A few days later, he approached me and asked what it looked like now. And so it began; every so many days, we would talk and I would continue to draw in the air and the images coalesced into what would be a complete set for him.
Having gotten that all figured out, I knew I wanted to use some fabrics from the Holy Land in the design. We were on a very tight experiential trip with little time for shopping but our guide knew I was after fabric. On our final day in Jerusalem, we had about two hours to wander. Graciously, he pointed out some shops for me so, when the day’s tour was over, off I went to gather the fabric. It was to be a most harrowing experience! Let’s just say Old City Jerusalem would not pass most electrical or fire code inspections. The shop I went to had all their silk fabrics upstairs. The stairs were very steep, had no railing and were lined with tubes of fabrics precariously stacked against the wall making for a very narrow passage. Once upstairs, there were bolts of fabric stacked to the top of the 12 foot ceiling everywhere. The shop keeper spoke Arabic, I spoke English, a friend had brought along an intern he was working with who spoke some Hebrew. The shop keeper spoke enough Hebrew to communicate with the intern who translated for me… but he kept showing me polyester and I kept saying no polyester. He finally understood what I meant and brought out some beautiful silk/cotton blends. To prove they were not polyester, he took out his lighter (Polyester will catch on fire whereas silk will just singe the edges) and proceeded to show me. I grabbed the lighter saying yes, I know and praying no sparks would fly as I imagined the headlines back home saying “Members of the Diocesan trip to the Holy Land found dead in Old City fire.” Thankfully, that was not to be, I got some absolutely beautiful silk moiré fabrics that found their way into the set and all was well!