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The Gospels and the Evangelists – it took us so long!

Dear friends,

It took us quite a while to complete our new post on the Gospels and the Evangelists, but it’s finally here!

We were prompted to work on this topic in late September because one of our children is named after the Evangelist Luke, hoping to make it by the Saint’s feast day on October 18, but it took us MUCH LONGER (more than a month and a half) to complete; we finally got to post it a day before the feast of the Evangelist Matthew (November 16)!

The text and research turned out to be quite extensive, and Despina spent long hours drafting, writing, and editing to please Natalie, who, in her ongoing quest to make our posts as short and to-the-point as possible, keeps cutting down Despina’s much-beloved details. Natalie experimented a bit with new techniques, and also worked to find a way of illustrating animals in a style consistent with the rest of the Orthodox Pebbles images. Finally, she was inspired to make a variety of time-consuming activities, including a more complex than usual board game – a type of activity she has been eager to try for a while. We are so happy to have finally completed this page and we hope you will enjoy it.

Our research was very rewarding – we found a lot of interesting online material, from which we included what we thought would be most useful to you in the “Explore Further” section. Natalie would like to share a couple of additional resources here, that weren’t directly related to the topic, but which she thoroughly enjoyed.

  1. Notes on Method, in the Orthodox Art Journal, very interesting article by iconographer Father Silouan Justiniano of the Brotherhood of the Holy Cross (ROCOR) in Long Island, New York.

Natalie’s comments:
I came across this article researching the depiction of the lion in Orthodox iconography. Fr. Silouan explains his process in detail, and describes how he went about creating his own lion in his icon of St. Mamas. I was fascinated by the fact that, during his research, he also turned for inspiration to non-Orthodox sources, such as Chinese, Japanese, and Indian prototypes. Looking at his lion, which – to me at least – still feels genuinely Orthodox, one can recognize the other influences as well.

I found the article very intriguing, so I looked up Fr. Silouan. It turned out that, before he was tonsured a monk and ordained to the priesthood, he had extensive formal training in the fine arts in New York. His iconography is wonderful, and he has written a number of thought-provoking articles for the Orthodox Arts Journal, which I definitely recommend.


2. Vivarium: A collection of digitized manuscripts, art, rare books, photographs, and other resources from two Benedictine monastic and educational communities in central Minnesota. 

Natalie’s comments:
I particularly enjoyed the microfilm collection, which contains a wide variety of illuminated manuscripts. Exploring this extensive resource really felt like visiting an art museum. It is worth spending some time to browse through it.

Working on the life of St. John the Theologian, Despina was reminded of her childhood summers in Greece:

The main church in my parents’ village, Parparia on the island of Chios, is dedicated to the Repose of St John the Theologian. The church has a magnificent iconostasis from 1859 (called “templon” by the locals), made entirely of dark wood painted black, and exquisitely sculpted -check it out here.  During my childhood summers there, I remember I always felt confused by the two very different Saint Johns I saw in the icons. 

Fun fact: in the icons of Christ and His disciples, St John is depicted as a young man, even a teenager. In his own icons, the Saint is depicted as an old man. Explore our web page to find out more.

The new school year in Greece usually begins around September 10, before the great feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (celebrated on September 14). As a family we were living in Athens, and I couldn’t help feeling disappointed every year, that we had to miss the feast day of our Patron Saint at Parparia, and its famous panygiri (festival). Nowadays, there is also a big festival on July 26 (St. Paraskevi’s feast day) – many vacationers are still on the island on that day, so they don’t have to miss the festivities like I used to.

We hope you will get to enjoy our resources on the Gospels and Evangelists. We extend our warmest wishes to all of you, for a blessed and peaceful Nativity season.

With love in Christ,
Natalie and Despina

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Preparing the Gifts – how we created our very first fabric learning set!

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for following us at Orthodox Pebbles, where we have been keeping you updated on our work through the blog feature of our website. We are now working towards migrating to Mailchimp for email updates, a service that offers greater flexibility. Going forward, we would like to gradually turn the blog space you were following until now into a behind-the-scenes commentary area, where we can share details of our creative process and thoughts about our work. You can always opt out of either our email list or our blog notifications at any time.

Together with Kelsey at St. Tabitha’s Workshop, we have been working on our latest project for a long time, and we are very excited to be finally able to share it with you. It is a hands-on children’s learning set made out of soft fleece, to help teach our young ones about the Holy Eucharist and the preparation of the Holy Gifts.

PLEASE CLICK HERE for the product details.

You may have already seen the Pascha learning sets we published in the spring. The Holy Gifts set was actually the first set we worked on, before we even started any of our other fabric products, and we went through various stages of planning and designing it.

This was our very first educational fabric product, and our sole intention in making it was to help little children better learn and understand our Faith; still, we were very concerned about the possibility of our set trivializing such a sacred Orthodox theme as the Holy Eucharist – therefore, we discussed our idea with a number of priests and religious educators to get their insight.

One of the most challenging parts in this process was, while living in the United States, showing it to Natalie’s spiritual father to get his opinion and blessing – he is living in a monastery in Greece. Thankfully, at this day and age and with a little extra effort, technology can even reach secluded Greek monasteries!


This set would be our very first item offered for sale, so researching copyright specifics, we found out there are restrictions in the use of scrapbook paper in artwork – we had been using scrapbook paper until then to make our illustration collages. Thus, Natalie set forth to create her own papers and patterns, and then digitally reworked her previous hand-cut illustrations to replace the scrapbook paper.

The positive outcome from all this effort was the realization that using our own paper and patterns, plus digitally reworking our illustrations, allows for much greater creative freedom and expression. If you browse through our material and compare our earlier to our most current work, you will see how, during the past year, we gradually stopped using scrapbook paper and started creating all our illustrations by drawing, cutting, gluing, and digitally manipulating our own papers and patterns.


After many changes and tweaks, we reached the final design. We thought you might enjoy some images from the planning process.

This was one of our first designs. We though it didn’t offer enough variety and interaction, so it was discarded.


Getting closer to the final design…


Even closer…


Nailed it!


We were SUPER EXCITED to receive our very first fabric sample and have our own children try it out!

We hope you get to enjoy our set as much as we have enjoyed creating it – and, as always, we’d love to hear from you!

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Teaching about the Holy Cross

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Dear friends,

Happy month of September! After a refreshing summer break, we are back with many plans for creating exciting new content here at Orthodox Pebbles. Meanwhile, at our parish, as in most parishes, preparations are well underway for the start of the new Sunday School season.

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One of our first lessons of the year usually deals with the Holy Cross of our Lord, as we celebrate the Great Feast of the Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross on September 14.

We have created a number of printable activity packets with interactive ideas for teaching about the Holy Cross – some inspired by the Exaltation, and some by the Veneration of the Cross (commemorated on the third Sunday of Great Lent). Activities from these packets can be used to teach any lesson focusing on the Holy Cross. Even if you are now planning a lesson on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, we recommend exploring all our Holy Cross content, as some material from one Feast can also be used for teaching the other.

CLICK HERE to explore our collected Holy Cross resources.

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With warmest wishes for a blessed, peaceful and spiritually fruitful ecclesiastical year,
Natalie and Despina

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Introducing… Orthodox-themed products by Orthodox Pebbles

Looking for end-of-the-year “thank-you” gifts for Sunday School teachers and parish volunteers? Would you like to decorate your classroom for next year in a cute and motivational way? Introducing our collection of inspirational Orthodox-themed products!

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As Sunday School coordinators and teachers, we have often been looking for Orthodox-themed gifts or classroom decorative items. To cover this need, we created motivational designs inspired by our lesson material, and set up an account at RedBubble.com – a print-on-demand business that custom-prints and sells a variety of items (T-shirts, mugs, home decor items, stationery). On the Red Bubble website, you can now purchase products featuring our designs.

We have highlighted some of the available items below. Clicking on each image will take you to the specific product on RedBubble.com.

The complete item list is more extensive than what can be seen below. To explore the full range of available products, please CLICK HERE.

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This is our last message for this school year, as we are now getting ready for our summer break. Once again, we want to express our gratitude for your support and wish everyone a wonderful and restful summer. God willing, we will be back in September with fresh ideas and renewed inspiration.

With love in Christ,
Natalie and Despina

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THE PRODUCTS

MUGS

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TRAVEL MUGS

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PILLOWS

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TOTE BAGS

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ACRYLIC BLOCKS

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NOTEBOOKS

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JOURNALS

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POSTERS

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CLOCKS

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Celebrate Mother’s Day honoring the greatest Mother of all!

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Christ is risen, dear friends!

In the Orthodox tradition, mothers are honored on the Great Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord and Savior in the Temple, celebrated on February 2. However, in the secular tradition, and especially in the United States, Mother’s Day is celebrated in May, and many Sunday Schools prepare a special project honoring mothers for that day. We have designed a printable packet with activities for the occasion, focusing on the greatest Mother of all: the Theotokos. Please ENJOY!

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If you have been finding our content useful, we will be grateful for your support. Kindly spread the word about our work and, if you wish, please consider contributing to our project.

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With warmest wishes for this festive season,
The Orthodox Pebbles team

 

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Pascha video now available

Christ is risen, dear friends!!

We are happy to inform you that the music copyright misunderstanding is now resolved, and our Pascha animation video is available to watch on YouTube.

According to our Church, Pascha lasts for the whole week. So, despite this small delay, you could still share our video with your little ones at home or at Sunday School, to help them better understand everything they experienced in church these past few days.

Thank you again for your support, and our warmest wishes at this festive time,
The Orthodox Pebbles team

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Pascha video temporarily anavailable

Dear friends,

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We were so excited to have completed an engaging animation Pascha video in time for this year’s celebration, to share with all of you and help our little ones better understand what Pascha is all about. Unfortunately, even though we have obtained permission from the creators to use the music, YouTube made it automatically unavailable on copyright grounds, a short while after we uploaded it. We are in the process of resolving the issue, and we will send out a notification when the video becomes available again.

Once again, we would like to express our gratitude for your support and wish you a blessed and joyous Resurrection.

With love in Christ,
The Orthodox Pebbles team

 

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Our new Pascha play sets are here!


This is a product series from our collaboration with St. Tabitha’s Workshop.

Dear friends, 

We have been working for a while now, to create a variety of educational fabric Pascha toys. They are made out of soft fleece and can be used in a number of ways. We are really excited to offer this new product series, which we hope will make the core concepts and traditions of Pascha more accessible to young children.

Please click on the links below to learn more about each product.


1. PASCHA PLAY SET

An act-out set to help teach core Pascha traditions, concepts and facts.

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2. MINI PASCHA PLAY SET:
DECORATE THE SEPULCHER

mini-set, perfect as a Pascha basket stuffer.

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3. MINI PASCHA PLAY SET:
PASCHA SCENES

mini-set, perfect as a Pascha basket stuffer.

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4. ADDITIONAL ITEM:
BACKDROP SCENE SET

Background fabric that can very easily be turned into a felt board, offering a variety of backdrop scenes for our play sets.

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With love in Christ,
The Orthodox Pebbles team

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Complete resource page on the Veneration of the Holy Cross

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Dear friends,

Visit our full page of teaching resources for the Veneration of the Holy Cross, complete this year with new lesson material and a variety of creative and enriching activities on the Cross of our Lord. It includes material inspired by the Ancient Faith book and podcast “Tending the Garden of our Hearts” by Kristina Garrett Wenger and Elissa D. Bjeletich. Thank you Elissa and Kristina for the collaboration!

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