This week we meet Renee, owner of Handmaid Art. She shares with us the inspiration she had to begin making these pieces of art. Read and be inspired to use your gifts!
1. Tell Us About Yourself.
My name is Renee’, and I am the married mother of one daughter. For most of my daughter’s “growing up” years I was blessed to be a stay-at-home mom with my heart fully invested in my husband and our daughter.
The story of the crosses and artwork you see here began very simply. During my daughter’s freshman year in college I was very lonely for her. I began begging the Lord to give me something to do to fill my days when she headed back to school for her sophomore year.
The Lord inspired me to begin making crosses for my daughter and others I had been praying for and give the crosses away. In the spring of 2013 I consecrated myself to the Sacred Heart of Jesus through Mary and I was spending more time each day in prayer.
Prayer became something that filled my days, and as I focused on the prayers for friends and family I made and gave away more crosses and other paper artwork inspired by Bible studies and prayer groups.
This has been a process of tremendous peace and, at the same time, a powerful movement of the Spirit within me and within my family. And, as is often the way with our God, little did I know at that time how very much my family and I would be in need of all those prayers.
About 6 months later, my family began encountering significant financial hardship after my husband lost his job. Yet, in this time of uncertainty for our family, I have been graced with “a peace beyond understanding” and despite our circumstances have been filled with joy and peace.
I’ve never really been much of a dreamer and never even thought of creating a business – I approached life from a more practical point of view, trained as a mechanical drafter to get a “real job” versus pursuing something like graphic arts or design, back then a more artistic track with fewer job possibilities.
But now the Spirit is pushing me to dream and to dare to do what I love doing. I do not know where the ministry will go, what doors God intends me to walk through with it, or what things He will challenge me to learn as I go, but as of February 2nd, 2014, it is His.
He is calling me to become an “Art Evangelist” to create universal expressions of God’s Love for all – with a mind toward the poor in our world. Crafting visions of our rich Catholic heritage of stained glass from more affordable paper that reflect the look of precious metals and stained glass has become my ministry and passion.
Beauty – even beauty created from paper – can help bring dignity into any home.
What Do You Make?
When my daughter went back for that second year of college, I knew that something had to be different. I prayed for God to help me find something to fill this void. That was when I felt moved to create crosses. My very first projects were mini-crosses and bookmarks.
As I made these I was left with scraps of paper that were too pretty to throw away and I began to use these scraps to make larger crosses. And it came to me that this was our Lord’s invitation to each of us, to take the pieces of our lives, no matter how shattered and put them on a cross – His Cross – and in so doing allow Him to transform our lives into something beautiful.
I began making them for my daughter and for friends, family, and those I pray for daily. I did this for about a year, making crosses for those I prayed for and giving them away.
Several friends suggested that I should form a ministry-based business around the making of and praying over these crosses and other inspirational pieces of art. I believe that the Spirit called me to begin a small ministry around the creation of my “stained glass” paper-based art.
A concept I call “Glass-Paper-Scissors”. So on February 2, 2014 – the Feast of the Dedication of the Lord – I went to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in our Church with several of my crosses and dedicated this ministry, this business to our Lord.
The process has evolved – and with our Lord’s inspiration continues to evolve. My daughter’s cross (shown above) traveled with her to Africa and back, adorned the walls of her dorm rooms throughout college and is currently on the wall of her bedroom at home. At times I look at those first creations and think I would like to redo some of them.
But my daughter loves this cross saying, “I love how I can see the differences between the first piece and how far you’ve come.” Another reminder from our Lord that our walk with Him is a journey, and we are invited to grow along the way! One of my more recent creations is shown below:
I was encouraged by friends and family to allow my art to reach out as a business so others could see and buy the artwork and in turn this ministry could reach more and more people. I began to streamline the crosses and sell them to friends and started customizing the crosses for baptisms, confirmation, first communion, and weddings.
My prayer has shifted from praying for an individual that I know to praying for whomever may receive the cross; praying for the graces that will be received in each Sacrament. In a very real sense I am able to share and participate in the family’s celebration.
3. Do You Do Anything Else?
I have made these “stained-glass” crosses, but I also have made other images using a slightly different technique.
I create an outline of the picture itself, then create that outline in black and put these “stained-glass” papers behind to make it look like an actual stained glass window. I’ve made images such as: the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary, an infusion of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart, the Holy Family, Mary, and several others.
My daughter, now graduated from college, also helps me with more ideas of images for this technique. She currently wants to help me design pieces such as the last supper and a full nativity scene.
That could be quite a feat! Our Church is so rich, so alive with beautiful art and I am continually inspired to find new methods to recreate this beauty in paper.
Currently I am being led to create a series of Marian images like the Annunciation (above) and the Holy Family (below) and the Mysteries of the Rosary, images from Church windows, capturing Advent and Lenten Seasons.
I also have several bookmarks, some ornaments based on some of my Marian art, Refrigerator Magnets and a Guardian Angel that I did as a stained glass look like the crosses.
I have also created art pieces inspired by book studies and meditations that can be used to help move one into peaceful prayer, but are also pieces of art that can be displayed in the home.
4. Contact and Social Links
My E-mail: Renee @ HandmaidArt.com
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