Vintage Wedding Inspired Thank You Cards!

Yesterday I finished working on some new thank you cards for the shop. I was thinking of a particular friend's wedding and wanted to use something that might go with her aesthetic and colors. I just love old paper, especially post cards with markings. And anything with type or calligraphy on it makes my heart sing. The red printed accents of birds, bows, hearts, and flowers come from victorian illustrations. I think they are just perfectly sweet, but not too sugary to make them sentimental. I'm super happy with how they turned out. I can't wait to have them listed in the shop.

These day I'm not able to spend much time at all in my studio. Staying home with Blythe, my little girl, has meant having to find new ways to be creative. To that end I've been slowly teaching myself photoshop.  It's been a great way to keep my brain occupied in the middle of doing the mundane tasks like laundry and changing diapers. Making cards, like these, is becoming a new artistic outlet for the times in between studio visits. Simple tasks to keep me sane. It's almost as good as actually touching the paper and smelling the glue. Almost.

I stumbled upon a treasure trove of vintage Christmas ephemera yesterday and it got me all inspired for Christmas cards. I can't wait to play around with all the fun old things I found. It does feel a bit strange to be making Christmas items in August. Perhaps I'll play some Christmas music just to get in the mood. It's a bit hard to feel very Christmasy, though, when it's 90 degrees outside. Hurry up cool weather! I'd like to wear a scarf again and not melt into a puddle of sweaty mush.


Strange Things Christ Holds Together

 Below is an entry from an Advent devotional put out by our church here in Durham, All Saints Church. Advent devotional guides are such a great way for me to slow down and to pay attention during the busy holiday season. I especially appreciate that All Saints had invited artists to create visual works to accompany the entries.  While it's not the Advent season just yet, I hope you enjoy this short reflection I wrote and the piece I created in a past Advent season. You can find the entire booklet online here.

"The Strange Things that Christ Holds Together" 

 This art piece is made from a strange family of elements: beeswax, sticks, string, a book page, some pieces of a dress pattern and gold oil pastel.  In much the same way that strange events and characters combine to form the story of Christ’s birth, so these art materials form a cast of “characters.” 

Layers of hot wax have been painted onto a board. Embedded in between these layers are bits and pieces of a dress pattern. Together they allude to the mysterious pattern that God lays out for us. His Word, symbolized by the beeswax, secretly but certainly holds all things together inside that pattern.

Sticks appear as a reminder of Jesus the Vine Dresser and the Root of Jesse. From both this Vine and this Root we receive our real sustenance. String is tied and stretched in a cruciform pattern.  Pages from an old Bible re-tell four narratives. John leaping inside of Elizabeth’s womb. An account of the Ascension. The wild birth of John the Baptist. The incarnation of God in Bethlehem. These stories remind us of the fantastical elements in the events surrounding Christ’s comings and goings. All these events are incredible and, across the board, un-expected. Surely we can only expect God to enter into our lives in a similar way—mysteriously entering when we least expect him, appearing, then disappearing, leaving us open-mouthed but always disclosing his everlasting love for us. God uses such strange and wild ways to accomplish his purposes. He fills people long empty. He astonishes us, as the Gospel writers might say.

Gold marks the center of the panel. This symbolizes the kingship of Christ. It is a kingship that appears at every point that we allow him to assume a place of preeminence in our lives.

Why did I make this piece? I did it to remind myself, despite my sometimes feeble faith, that all these things are true. His mother, for example, was a young woman like me, like many, who did not expect God to come in that way and at that time.  While I wait for Jesus to answer my prayers—and to answer prayers that I have yet to even pray—he is at work in all kinds of unexpected ways. If I only look for him to come in the way that I want him to, then I miss all the mysterious, beautiful ways that he is already present. I need to remember to wait for him. I need to trust that, like the string threading itself throughout this art, he holds all the strange, often puzzling parts of my life together, and the frustrating parts too. When I do trust him, I find that my heart is filled with gratitude. Some days it is filled with wonder.



Welcome to The Ambrosium Blog! 

I'm so glad you've found us. Here you will find information about the devotional and liturgical pieces I am making for The Ambrosium shop. I will also post about new items, sales, events, and behind the scenes peeks. 

To visit the shop click on the "shop" tab at the top, or the mini shop on the right side of the blog. For commission inquiry or questions please find my contact information under the "contact" tab. To learn about encaustic painting, please visit the "encaustic" tab. You can follow us on facebook by clicking the facebook box to the right. 

Thanks for visiting!

Pax Vobiscum, 

Phaedra Jean Taylor

God Gives The Growth

This piece was inspired by the All Saints icons picturing a cloud of witnesses surrounding Christ. The greens, reds, and golds can all be found in the color palette used by traditional iconographers, and the composition divided into a heavenly space and an earthly space references the arrangement of images found in the All Saints icons. The green "cloud" also evokes the feeling of a tree, tying in the I Corinthians 3 passage ("I planted, Apollos watered, but God  gave the growth") written out at the bottom of the piece. 

In the tree/cloud are roosting a flock of Goldfinch birds. These birds are traditionally rich in symbolism. The Goldfinch, who lives on a diet of thorns and thistles, was used in religious Medieval art to represent beauty from suffering, endurance, fruitfulness, and persistence. Birds in general were symbolic of souls drawn to Christ. Having the Goldfinches gathering around the central cross seemed a good way to translate the image of the saints surrounding Christ in the icon. 

Underneath the wax are pages from an old Bible. Passages from both the psalms about God's faithfulness and the Beatitudes are included on the pages. Metallic Gold is drawn into the top layer of the piece around the cross, and highlights the bottom of the Scripture passage referencing the holiness, preciousness, and royalty of God.
This artwork, finally was created in the tradition of Encaustic Painting. Over 80 layers of wax were painted on and then melted into the panel. The translucency lends an ethereal and aged quality to the work that nicely echoes the traditional aesthetic of the icon while maintaining a fresh contemporary feel from the clean texture of the wax. Encaustic pieces have the potential to last hundreds of years if cared for properly, so hopefully this archival painting will be around for years to come.