When on vacation, my favorite souvenir is sheets of stained glass, and Stratoz and I found a bounty at Carolina Stained Glass. I wrote about the types of stained glass manufactured in the US, and one company I didn't include was Bullseye from Portland, OR, but right after I wrote the article, Stratoz and I found an awesome piece of orange Bullseye at Carolina Stained Glass, and Stratoz made this butterfly.
Stratoz has launched his own Etsy Shop with his stained glass creations: Stratozpheres. I love seeing his work all together. Go check it out and delight your eyes.
Going on retreat Wernersville Spiritual Center, he encountered Praying with Female Images of God, and Sophia in particular resonated with him, the figure of Divine Wisdom in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Stratoz tried his patience with our cranky scanner, and got all 21 scanned, and then I figured out how to zip a file so that it doesn’t take up as much room, so we can safely email orders out to fans of coloring. Patience is not one of the 21 attributes of Sophia, although maybe unperturbed or steadfast would be applicable.
Stratoz started coloring a few sample pages, and found himself holding his sister in prayer, who had a stroke, and was again inspired by Sophia, and the healing acts of coloring and of prayer. If you love to color, need some meditative practice in your life or know someone who needs inspiration, check out Stratoz’s Coloring With Wisdom.
Stratoz and I are going to be interviewed for the Northampton Magazine, about alumni accomplishments. One of the questions we were asked to consider was how Northampton Community College(NCC) prepared us to run a business. At first, I didn’t know how to answer this question because I never would’ve have imagined having my own business when I was at the college.
Then I remembered, when I was 19, I petitioned to take a newly created class at NCC called Responding to the Bereaved, which was restricted to Funeral Service Education students. NCC decided to let me in, and there I sat with 10 men and one woman studying to become Funeral Directors, learning about the psychology of loss and bereavement. I took the class because I felt compelled to, in wanting to understand my own pain, but class was a response to the needs of the Funeral students, who wanted more understanding of their clients, who were in the midst of grief.
Some of the members of the class grappled with the material, arguing that they weren’t counselors, and did they need to know all this psychology, but they were willing to consider the possibility. Their profession was important to them, their role of guide at a moment of disruption. I felt out of place as the only outsider, significantly younger than most of the students and the only other woman, but I was struck by the importance of the relationship between the person serving and those being served, and by the stories of the student’s own losses that arose in class discussions. I most likely told Stratoz, when I met him that same year, that I wanted to be a bereavement counselor.
Now here I am, 25 years later, with our business Nutmeg Designs, and the relationship between artist and client is what guides both Stratoz and myself in our work. We respond to grief at times, when someone commissions art as a remembrance, a gesture of love and healing. Stratoz created a butterfly mandala in stained glass, commissioned by the friend of a couple that lost a child to cancer. There is sadness in such a request, and yet such care. This couple in turn commissioned a butterfly piece for another couple who lost triplets, carrying the hope for healing from their hearts to others.
Stratoz took this photo of one of his Sophia Spiral’s hanging in his studio window, late afternoon, with the sun glowing through the center of Youghiogheny glass. Stained glass quickens with the light, and can catch us by surprise with colors we never saw before. I’ll let Stratoz describe what goes into a Sophia Spiral Mandala:
I call the piece, A Sophia Spiral Mandala, which doesn’t just happen to have 21 pieces of glass. It has 21 pieces of glass because the design came to be after spending time with Sophia and a passage (The Book of Wisdom, chapter 7) that includes her 21 attributes: 22 For within her is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, mobile, incisive, unsullied, lucid, invulnerable, benevolent, shrewd,
23 irresistible, beneficent, friendly to human beings, steadfast, dependable, unperturbed, almighty, all-surveying, penetrating all intelligent, pure and most subtle spirits.
This week I decided to make a new mandala for our craft shows. I cut out four pieces of five types of blue green glass and than pulled out the Youghiogeny glass for the 21st. As I was writing a blurb to describe the mandala, it occurred to me what that 21st piece is. As we grow to know God in all images, we spiral into ourselves, and what we find is our true self. And there is nothing I can put in that location better than a piece of amazing glass from western Pennsylvania.
Order an original Stratozpheric art card to delight someone in your life. Stratoz will draw a card with colored pencils, in the colors you choose, while contemplating the message you want to send, and then send it off to the address you provide. I am grateful that I have been a frequent recipient of Stratoz’s art, and I know that friends, family, co-workers, clients and mailing list members have also been happy to receive them. I am amazed by his ability to create miniature works of art, that can leave his drawing table and wing their way to people’s hearts. A woman contacted him to commission a series of cards to send to the wife of a colleague who is undergoing a course of chemotherapy, and Stratoz was honored to be part of loving energy sent in a time of need.
When I started working the Nutmeg Designs website, I knew we needed photos of Stratoz and me in our studios, to show where we work, our natural habitat. Fortuitously, I met Allison Puketza of 4A Photography, and she was intrigued by the idea of capturing people in context. She came over with lights, and spent time getting our studios composed, with an artist’s eye as to what makes a good focal point and color. She advised I wear one of my orange pendants, and I love that! Allison also noticed that Stratoz had the drawing he’d made for a Hope mosaic on his table and I had the mosaic in progress on my table, and she loved how that symbolized our collaborative work.
Allison got her first SLR camera when she was in the 6th grade, and was surrounded by a creative family, with biweekly slide shows, and “paint-offs” for entertainment. She started making scrapbooks as a journal for each year, and was an art major in college before the expense became too much. Eventually she went back, and finished a degree in sociology, but the idea of going to school for photography was a dream that stayed with her, and Allison began an online master’s program through the Academy of Art University Photography School of San Francisco. After 6 years of part time study, Allison graduated in 2011. Her business, 4A Photography, located in the Souderton, PA area, is named for herself and her family Alec, Abigail and Anja. Allison designed her own logo, and I love it, especially being my last name starts with A!
Both her daughters are now in school and she is branching out with her photography, doing family portraits, workplace portraits, and still maintaining her love of abstraction which she discovered while in photography school. Allison asked if Stratoz would create a stained glass piece inspired by some of her abstract photos. This is the kind of inspiration that we love, and Stratoz made a very cool suncatcher with interpretations of 4 photos from her Impressions of Space series.