Processional Torch Commission
Kaminer Haislip designed and created this processional torch commission in collaboration with Michael James Moran and Celia Gibson of Moran Woodworked Furniture. A group of St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church patrons contacted Kaminer to commission these custom processional torches in memory of Bishop Daly Pope Garnett. Bishop was a dear friend to Kaminer and her brother Wylie’s lifelong best friend, so this project meant a lot and she was committed to making it exceptional. When the wood components were considered during the early design stages, Kaminer knew who to call to collaborate with on that crucial element. She had collaborated with Michael and Celia on numerous occasions before and knew they had an eye and mind for the aesthetic and technical challenges that lay ahead on this complex project.
The design for the custom processional torches began with looking at the church’s existing collection of ceremonial objects and torches, so the new, handcrafted torches would be unified in the environment. Measurements were taken of existing torches and Kaminer, Micheal, and Celia considered the ergonomics when finalizing the dimensions, since these torches were intended for the youth church members to carry. The silver and brass candleholder was inspired by a previous silver candlestick Kaminer had created, but reimagined with a smooth, round dish referencing angel wings. Due to the slight tilt in each silver dish, when the two are placed together (see first image above) they symbolize angel wings soaring high.
The brass cylinder of the candleholder was beautifully hand engraved by the talented Kristina McClure, who does all of Kaminer’s hand engraving. The inscription credits Bishop’s mother’s afternoon tea group as “The Teabags” for their generous donation of the processional torches to St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church.
The black walnut too has special meaning and contributed immensely to this incredibly well thought out and meaningful project. Michael and Celia wrote:
“These pieces of Black Walnut came from one specific tree blown down by a storm on a friend’s cattle farm in Central Kentucky, close to where Michael grew up. We worked closely with Jim (the farmer) and his wife Deb to save as much of this tree and a handful of others trees befallen by similar circumstances. We spent seven days at the farm cutting/moving/milling trees into logs and then into boards. Next, we stacked all of the wood to dry for a year in a nearby barn then transferred to a kiln to finish drying. Each step of this long process we put our hands on every board, with care and concern for its well being and future. To date we’ve built many pieces from these trees that have found themselves all over the US, in homes, places of work, and now a place of worship.”
The base for each torch was created in brass, silver, and black walnut to harmonize with the torch design through the repetition of material and form. The hammering, raising, and forming of the heavy 10″ diameter brass dome was a physical and technical challenge for Kaminer, because brass is much harder than silver and not conducive to raising. She applied her traditional silversmithing training to it and was able to make not one, but two that are identical in shape and size. Her arms were ringing for days after the final planishing!
The numerous right angles in all components of the torches was also a very difficult technical challenge. Each part when put together has to fit and stand up at a perfect right angle and they had to be the exact same height for the dishes to match up, so attention to detail was of the upmost importance. The candleholder, stem, and base components all come apart for easy cleaning, polishing, and future repair if needed. Kaminer, Michael, and Celia thought through carefully how all the elements would work together not only aesthetically, but also technically.
The end result is not only stunning visually, but includes symbolic significance to commemorate and celebrate the life of an incredible individual, Bishop Daly Pope Garnett, in a church he loved dearly.