Story of the Saints: I designed my line of personal saints to serve as guides, protectors, muses, or talismans that will support healing, transformation, and self-expression. I made my first personal saint for a writing mentor of mine who was working on a novel in Japan (and that saint actually survived the huge 2011 earthquake with her, right after she arrived for her residency).
I made my second saint for my sister, when she was going through cancer treatments for a rare sarcoma at the age of 42. She brought her saint (named Saint Vulvinia, since she had a vulvar sarcoma) with her to every radiation treatment. She is now cancer free, but the saint continues to be one of her beloved possessions. I recently gave another saint to my aunt, who is going through her own bout with cancer. She also brings her saint (Saint Mammaria) with her to her treatment sessions.
Since I started selling the saints, people have given them as gifts to loved ones going through surgeries, recovering from grief, embarking on a creative venture, and more. It is so powerful to connect with people in these moments and provide them with an object of comfort for themselves or for their loved ones.
Symbolism and Crafting:
Growing up, I was always drawn to mystical/magical objects, voodoo dolls, worry dolls, milagros, etc. I am not a religious person, but I do feel connected to that type of spiritual energy and intention. I love to collect religious iconography and have tons of saints and virgins in my house, even though I'm Jewish by birth, LOL.
I do not consider my personal saints to be religious. I think of them as protective charms. They are decorated with milagros (Mexican charms) for luck and blessings. The milagros show a sun and a praying figure or sometimes a Virgin Mary. Each saint wears a small heart locket, into which I will place a word of intention. The words are hand written in calligraphy (by me) in sparkly silver ink on tiny pieces of pink paper that are folded into the locket. The words include messages like heal, create, dream, trust, aspire, abide along with intention words such as peace, clarity, love, joy, hope. The locket shouldn't be opened often, as the messages are easy to lose and hard to secure within the locket, but they are there to impart a certain wish for the saint's owner.
The saints are painstakingly beaded, using a technique known as couching, where you string together a strand of beads and attach it vertically to the fabric. Then you make a horizontal stitch between every bead or every other bead, to affix the strand. Couching allows you to fill in a section of the design, one row at a time. I use fishing wire on the outer beads to prevent them from cutting through the string. It takes me 8.5 hours to decorate, sew, and stuff these "little beings" by hand. I am going to experiment with some design variations to see if I can cut down on the making time. That is always the challenge I face with my work. I either have to find a faster way to make them or charge more for the time they take to make... Sigh. Another idea I am toying with is offering personalized pouches for the saints.