This week Shopping with Blessed Zelie features Saint Anne’s Rosaries. It is beautiful the way the Lord works through her hands to create these rosaries.
1. Tell us about yourself.
My name is Jillian Muhleman. I am a stay at home mom to three children, and hopefully more some day! I live in sunny California and absolutely love the ocean.
Nearly ten years ago, I went on a mission trip to Guaymas, Mexico to assist in building houses. One of the most amazing things about Guaymas was the very public display of the Catholic faith. I saw saint statues in front of houses, crucifixes hanging in businesses, and various religious pictures outside.
It was very inspiring. One didn’t need to know the Spanish language in order to know that Catholicism was a very important part of the people’s lives. That is something I love about visual and external signs and symbols, their ability to reveal life, beauty, and the Eternal Word, Jesus.
I have many fond memories of Guaymas, but perhaps the most influential was giving away inexpensive plastic rosaries made by people from my parish. The way people gathered around for a free rosary you would have thought we were handing out gold! But, in a way, I think we were. That really stuck with me, and when I returned from the mission trip I felt called to look into making rosaries.
2. What do you make?
I have been making rosaries on and off for about ten years and have given away more than I can count. This past Lent, I decided to post rosary giveaways in a Catholic moms group on Facebook. The response was overwhelming and very humbling. The reasons why women wanted a rosary were inspiring, encouraging, heartwarming, and sometimes brought tears to my eyes.
Many wanted the rosary for a family member struggling with their faith, or a friend who was sick, or because someone they knew didn’t have anything but a plastic rosary and wanted something nice. I seriously wanted to make everyone a rosary!
Women started asking if I sold them, and before long, I was selling rosaries through private messages on Facebook. When making a rosary, I often do not know who it is for, unless it is for a custom order. I have had no formal training nor have taken any jewelry making classes. I just look at beads and often become inspired, hopefully divinely inspired. It seems like most rosaries make themselves.
When I made rosaries for the friends who attended my baby shower three years ago, one of them told me, “This is my favorite color!” When I hear comments like that, it only solidifies the thought I have about making rosaries: Although I make them, they are not my own. They are God’s rosaries, and for some reason, He is using me to make them.
However, I recently made a Stella Maris (Star of the Sea) rosary for myself, inspired by my love of the ocean, and it has been the most popular rosary I have made.
3. Do you do anything else?
Recently, I have started on another artistic venture, Holy Makeover Saint Dolls! Nearly three years ago, when I had a small babe in arms, I started looking for saint dolls. Unfortunately, it was a very scarce market. I did come across a blog post from Arma Dei that gave a tutorial of sorts on how to repurpose existing dolls into saints. What a brilliant idea!
I looked on Ebay and found some Ty Girlz dolls and bought them. Because of my love of the ocean, I decided my first Holy Makeover Saint Doll would be Stella Maris. I took some basic sewing classes in school, but I am horrible when it comes to math and science, so making complicated patterns makes me cringe. Thankfully, Arma Dei’s blog post gave a very simple tutorial to get me started. It has been quite a learning experience and I really think I must be receiving special graces. I look at what I have done with the dolls and am amazed by how well they are turning out!
I decided to post my progress on my Stella Maris doll on the Facebook Moms groups and was encouraged by the responses! I even got two custom orders!
I am making an additional Stella Maris doll and an Our Lady of Fatima doll. Each doll is different since I makeover each by hand, and I am limited to the dolls I can find online.
I love making rosaries and Holy Makeover Saint dolls because they are great ways to teach the Catholic faith. As a Catholic mom, it is very important to impart a love of Christ and His Church to my children. I think having holy reminders is instrumental in this process.
While some children are too young to understand some of the more difficult aspects of our faith, giving them a Mama Mary doll helps to cultivate a love for our faith. Our little ones are going to play with toys, why not give them toys that will lead them to The Way, The Truth, and The Life?
EMAIL: jillianmuhleman (a) gmail.com
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