Thursday, December 10, 2015


Well, technically this is a ram, not a lamb.  It is a Renaissance jewel, part of The Waddesdon Bequest to the British Museum.  And it was the inspiration for our own version of the Agnus Dei.

Well, there was also this llama with white balloons - as conceptualized & photographed by Gray Malin... but let's not steer too off topic.

Our Lamb-of-God was made for a dear friend, an Episcopal Deaconess, with whom the design holds special meaning.  As you may notice, it has an Episcopal flag in tow - which technically is a version of the familiar white flag with a red cross often depicted - yet with particular significance to the person who is meant to wear it in the good service of proclaiming the Gospel - Mother Liza.

The Lamb stands atop a heavenly-blue book, from which hang gold braids with seven red seals.  (There will be another post about this matter soon which will surely be of interest,)

But speaking of Rams and Lambs... it may do us good to point out another depiction - where both elements collide: the emblem of the city of Visby in Gotaland:

Over 800 years ago this was chosen as the symbol of the city.  But why a ram instead of a lamb? This is best explained by the fact that the capital of Gotaland was best known for its wool trade - and wool is sheared from the ram, not the short haired baby lambs.  Also, in Gutnish and Gothic (their original language) the same word is used for both a lamb and a ram.  Nonetheless, for the people of Visby, it is an everlasting symbol of their own Christianity, and it reminds them of the roots of their capital.

Such customization of a "generic" emblem - "agnus dei" used as a noun or heraldic composite - serves to distinguish a particular entity or person's shield or achievement from that of others.  Indeed many have an "agnus dei" in or for their signet - yet if it has the horns of a ram, we know it must be be about Visby!  Equally, if it carries the cross of Toulouse (the one with twelve balls, 3 on each arm) it must be the ancient capital of the Gothic Kingdom that is referenced:

Every bit has meaning.  So does, for example, the red background of the dalmatic we've made.  This vestment is meant to be worn on the Memories, Feasts and Solemnities of Martyrs.  The red symbolizes the blood they may have shed in sacrifice for their faith.  The first Christian Martyr, of course, being Christ himself.  Here's to a world where no new martyrs are created then -   of ANY faith.

And that's a post with quadrupeds for you! As promised.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


The Pelican-In-Piety refers to a very ancient symbol for Christ.  The Pelican is known for the ultimate sacrifice to save its chicks.  It prick its sides to feed them the blood that will sustain their life.  Christ gave his blood for us, and at communion, the wine drunk is in remembrance of that sacrifice.
So the Pelican isn't just a bird - and what better way to make a child or adult understand the sacrificial nature of Christianity, than with a conversation begun about the bird on your vestment?


Lots of people think we use pearls on some of our embroideries for the "Liberace" effect... but pearls have, since ancient times, been associated with Wisdom - and our omniscient God IS wisdom itself.  Hence, whenever someone is atracted to ask about the pearls on our vestments, it's a perfect chance to speak about THE LOGOS - His HAGIA SOPHIA - or in other words, Our God, in whose service, and for whose Glory and Honour, these vestments are made.


When making a new vestment set for this past Pentecost, we were asked to embroider a dove.   Here again, we went around and looked for inspiration at samples from the past.  Who could forget Bernini's Window at Saint Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, above?

We also thought to be adventurous, and try out an idea.  How about making it as though it was issuing forth - flying out of the dalmatic's chest as The Word of The Gospel pours out during the readings of the Mass by the deaconal minister?

So we gave it a go.  It is called stump-work embroidery - and it refers to the stuffed, three-dimensional pieces of needlework which only a handful of artists and artisans still produce today.

The most famous piece, perhaps, still being the Lord Chancellor's Purse used for the State Opening Of Parliament in the United Kingdom.

So that is how our Dove got its wings.  May the Holy Spirit pour forth through it, and fill with blessings those who hear the Gospels.


THE KEY THAT UNLOCKS THE CENTURIES...KLAVE CENTESCA.  With artistic licences, of course.

We always get asked what our name means... and better yet, how do you pronounce it?

Pronunciation is up to you - everyone has a different accent; some people speak many languages and other just one - so to each their own.  You can always call it KC for short!  We do.

Ideally though, it would be klah-veh-chen-tehs-ka... or some such phonetic sound.

But now, down to what it means:

KLAVE, or rather, "clave" comes from the Latin word for "key".  It is also used in the sense of password or code to unlock things.  We used a K instead of a C because for the logo it looked like a key if one extended the K and added a handle.  Also because in English, not only "Every Kiss begins with Kay" (as the diamond retailers would have you repeat their jingle) but also every KEY.

CENTESCA, the second element of the name refers to "the centuries" of time.  In Italian, particularly, one speaks of something "centesco" if its date falls between the year 1 and 100AD (meaning, "the first century").  Depending on the context, it will also mean between the year "1,000 and 1,100" for more often than not, the thousand-bit of the equation is dropped in common lingo - again, once one has the context of the era.   Accordingly, duo-centesco refers to the 1200s, tre-centesco to the 1,300s and so forth when discussing art, or the church, in Italian.

So the designation came after synthesizing, after much research, the diverse styles of vestments during that second millennium of church History when things really took shape: there were schisms, divisions, protestants, and all sorts of interesting bits best left for another moment.  Below, you can see our  take on the modes of the 1100s thru the 1900s.We hope this all makes some sense.



Also, may it reminds us of the common root that unites us with our past, present and well into the future. God Bless!   And remember to visit our website @ to see some of our work. And the differences between the centuries-old designs presented above.


pentecost holy spirit dove embroidery by klave centesca vestments
We've been asked whatever happened to our old blog - it received so much spam that it became an impossible and unnecessary chore rather than a joy: and there should be joy in everything one does.

We do enjoy blogging! About our experiences, the things we make, the people we meet and the things we learn along the way.  It is a good way to share and hopefully benefit others in ways beyond our own art and artifice. Because, though obviously we make vestments, paraments and some pretty nice embroideries to boot, it's about who and for what they are made that matters.  Gloria et honor Patri et Filio et Spiritui sancto in saecula saeculorum. . +