Byzantine Crowns & Autumn Projects
Welcome to November friends!
If you read last month’s post or email you probably know that I participated in this year’s Santa Fe Studio Tours, and I can happily report that it went great! If you came to the studio tour it was great to see you. I was able to meet other artists and people from or visiting Santa Fe who love art, so I’m looking forward to future tours as well.
Because of the studio tour and work last month, I haven’t had as much time for hiking – but I have started two new woodcarving projects. Both of these projects are outside of the work I usually do, and I really enjoy trying new approaches and styles.
A couple in Dallas commissioned me to make two of these Byzantine wedding crowns. After learning about the interesting history behind the crowns and Stefana ceremony I began the process of planning and creating.
In Greek Orthodox Christian cultures, one of the most important and memorable aspects of weddings is a Byzantine Rite (ritual) called the Mystery of Crowning. In Greek Orthodox communities, these crowns are called the ‘Stefana.’
Following the betrothal ceremony, the Mystery of Crowning is performed on the newly married couple utilizing two Stefanas – one for each person. The use of these crowns as well as the ceremony were borrowed from Pagan traditions, then adapted for each culture’s traditions and beliefs.
During the Stefana ceremony, the couple join hands and continues holding hands for the rest of the wedding. The priest recites a prayer three times in front of the groom and then three times in front of the bride, and then changes directions – reciting the prayer three times again in front of the bride, and three times again in front of the groom. The priest will then place the wedding crowns on the couple’s heads, uniting them as husband and wife.
Lastly, the Koumbaros (the groom’s best man) exchanges the crowns three times – placing the groom’s crown on the bride’s head, and vice versa, three times.
To begin the process, I sketched out the design of both crowns to review with the clients and finalize details. As you can see below, I use grid paper to ensure proper spacing and sizing.
Next, I had six pieces of mahogany cut to size for each crown and set them up to check details before attaching them together. After confirming everything was the right size and cut, I taped all the pieces together to see what the finished crown would look like.
This is as far as I’ve gotten in the process so far, but I’ll continue to update my progress in future posts. If you have questions about this project feel free to let me know in a comment at the bottom of this post!
The other main project I’ve been working on is this piece of a woman holding a bouquet of flowers. This approach and style are far from my usual work but I’ve been enjoying working on a woodcarving piece that’s essentially a sculptural portrait.
I started by carving the body and face, and kept the flowers she’s holding and at her feet separate initially for ease of carving. After I put some detail into the top set of flowers I attached them so I could start working on the hands and arms as well.
Look for updates on this project too in next month’s post!
Because October was a busy month with the Santa Fe Artist Studio Tour and work I didn’t have a chance to go on any hikes. But we have been experiencing some gorgeous Fall weather and sunsets here in Santa Fe so I wanted to share some photos from myself and friends of mine from the past month:
Looking forward to having more time in November for woodcarving and clay projects, and I’ll be sure to update you about those and the projects mentioned in this post as well.
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I hope November treats you well, see you here next month!
Fine Woodcarver & Sculptor