About Rachel Her Work

Rachel Murphy at workI strive with each custom vestment work to create a thing of beauty that has special meaning for member of the clergy who wears it, whether I’m using a poly blend or a fine brocade: custom designs that speak to the individual priest; carefully pieced applique, using materials such as brocade, damask, and silk; freehand satin stitch embroidery–all of which, taken in combination, give the work a “stained glass” look.

A five-piece vestment set, for example, depending on the intricacy of the design and how much hand-sewing is involved in the  construction, and other variables, can take anywhere between 45-100 hours to complete. But I love every minute of it, and revel in the intricacy of the design, and strive to make every part of the work a prayer for the priest and deacon and those whom he will be serving.

My Story

I fell in love with sewing work at age twenty-two. Perhaps it is partly because it is the work of an introvert, and allows for prayer time also. It started with Irish dance custom dresses, but  in June of 2004, I had an experience during the Vigil Mass of Corpus Christi that made me hope that one day I’d make liturgical vestments…and, I also hoped, beautiful ones!

In 2009, I finally tackled a volunteer labor of love for a dear friend who was being ordained to the priesthood. The vestments—there were 19 chasuble/stole (or dalmatic/stole) sets—were designed with a uniformity of materials and overall design, so that they would stand out as a group for my friend’s first Mass celebration at St. Joseph’s Church in Salem, Oregon. It was a beautiful thing to see my first vestments worn by some of our area’s most amazing priests and deacons!

Rachel's first vestment set

After being drawn to the religious life as a teen/young adult, I ultimately felt called to do some little work for God in the world. I hope that the vestment work is some part of that. As of 2017, I am gradually transitioning this work back to where I started it: a volunteer labor of love. Financially, I am unable any longer to continue this work as a business. So, it is with a bittersweet joy that I want to gratefully remember the years that I was able to devote to this work, and all of the wonderful and kind people that have been so supportive of it. Thank you, friends. Throughout the Spring and Summer of 2017, I’ll be finishing whatever orders I have still in the pipeline, and then I will be taking on volunteer liturgical projects as God grants me the time and energy to do so, outside of my main work.

On another note…

I’m also blessed with amazing parents and siblings, all of whom have incredible gifts for creating beauty—in writing, in art, in mentorship and counseling, or in the sciences. A few of us, inspired in large part by my talented brother John and my mom Debra, have begun a kind of Morris and Company co-op of artists/writers, to do our little part to add to the ever ancient, ever new manifestations of beauty in art, literature, human services, and liturgy.

Clan Murphy, Christmas 2013

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