Long time readers know that Sarah's favorite toys are her wooden saint dolls. The very first sponsors here were Garry and Amy from St. Luke's Brush. I don't think I even considered sponsorship until they suggested it. I'm so grateful to have them and I'm so inspired by their family's work. I'd love for you to hear a little more about them.
How long have you been in business and how did you find yourself making wooden saint dolls and Catholic toys?
Amy and I officially opened St. Luke's Brush on Etsy.com, September 18, 2010. I studied painting and graphic design in college and have worked as a designer most of my career. At the time we started St. Luke's Brush I did not really have an outlet for my work or a direction, certainly not one of any significance. I had had a bit of a career reversal the year leading up to it and the idea really took form in the midst of some dark times for us. Amy said something like "What if you painted these and put them out there? What's the worst that could happen?” When life kicks you down badly it’s harder to see God’s plan, but if you can glimpse it during those times, the fruit it bears is so much sweeter. The phrase has become cliché, but only because it’s so true, “God will never give you more than you can handle and always what you need.” It was about the time of opening the shop that I became interested in St. Padre Pio and I adopted something he said as my personal motto, “Pray, hope and don’t worry. “ And so I did.
Is it a family endeavor? Do your kids help?
St. Luke's Brush is totally a family endeavor, though the bulk of working tasks usually fall to me. I like to joke around with people that Amy is the brains of the operation, but maybe it would make more sense to say that she is the heart of it. She has great ideas and her organizational skills keep the wheels on the bus. She is the reason things get shipped to the right address and on time. My older boys Jack (13) and Sam (11) have both accompanied Amy to local homeschooling conferences. Emma (8) and Leo (3) have been my product testing and quality control form the beginning. Leo has run several durability tests on the dolls including high velocity impact and full water submersion. : -) I consider them all a part of it. They encourage and inspire me, visit me in my workshop and make sure I take a break from time to time. In so many ways St. Luke’s Brush is about them and not me.
What inspires you?
I'm inspired by genuine acts of kindness and selflessness. I am moved by work (art and otherwise) that comes from the soul. When you look at them, you know with a certainty, God was acting through this person. Going to church is like a trip to the art museum for me. Where else can you go to find painting, sculpture, mosaic, metalwork and beautiful music? I agree with what the artist Kessie, of Simplicities of Life, said to the same question last month that this type of work can only be attributed to the Holy Spirit. I cannot take any credit. I am but an instrument and a dull one at that. In recent days I have been inspired by the humility of now Pope Emeritus Benedict the 16th. It is humility that allows us to see the big picture and the small place in history we inhabit. If I can find a way to make a small difference in the life of a child, what greater legacy could I ask for?
Can you share a customer story or two? Someone who was particularly blessed by the work of your hands?
I am so grateful to my customers and supporters. Without them there is no shop. There are so many stories and I have come into contact with so many wonderful people as a result of this endeavor. There have been some heart rending stories of some brave little children facing scary health crises. To know that something I made with my hands brought them even a moment of comfort in the storms of their life is worth more than any remuneration I could receive for my work. Some of my customers get more involved in the process and I love to receive input and guidance from them. A nine year old boy named Andrew, who saved up to purchase a St. Padre Pio doll. As he had a strong devotion to this saint no detail went unnoticed and at the time, my St. Padre Pio was not depicted holding a rosary. Andrew was very dismayed as St. Pio offered the rosary several times a day and would very rarely have been without one. The mother wondered if she sent it back, would I add it. Rather than hassle with that, I sent him a new one and his comment made me laugh out loud. "Mommy now he can bi-locate!" But in all seriousness, his mother Debora said all I need to hear to know I am doing something worthwhile with my gift. "I thank your husband for creating something of value to my children to help them on their journey to heaven." If I could transform that into a mission statement, that would be it.
In the Foss family, we like to give these dolls as gifts in stockings and in Easter baskets. I'm always looking for new ideas and for someone to point out a special one to add to our collection. Spend a moment or two perusing the beautiful toys in Garry's shop and get back to me with what you see. Leave a comment and you will be entered to win a St. Veronica doll. Winner will be announced in this post next Saturday. But wait! There's more;-)
Garry is offering In the Heart of My Home readers a free painted egg for every purchase of $100 or more.
The winner of this giveaway is Michelle! Michelle said...
I love all of these dolls and sets.I would love to start getting them for my kids - ages 8 and under. I think it will be hard to choose which ones to start with. My three girls would love them, but I think even my 2 boys would play with them!