Ellie Singer’s Common Prayer shop on Etsy offers items like patches embroidered with a biblically accurate angel and goth scrunchies that read “Cast out devils.” But the shop began because of a life-size red plushie Book of Common Prayer.
Founded late in 2020, the idea came to her “almost as a shower thought.” When she realized no one was making plushie Books of Common Prayer and that she had the skills, she set out to create them herself. And she sold out faster than she could make them. But even though the plushies might bring joy for a while, they will still eventually end up in a landfill. Thus Ellie made it her goal to ensure everything she creates is “as sustainable as possible by rescuing fabric on the way to the landfill and upcycling them.”
Making poly stuffies is Ellie’s way of working with creation, “I’m creating out of my joy for created things.” Even though she tries to care for the earth by using sustainable materials, it’s not always possible, so she tries to honor those involved in the object’s lifecycle from the fields, through exploitative factories, and to her hands. Making art is Ellie’s way of dealing with the harsh realities, “It’s a coping mechanism.”
As a young person actively dealing with the heaviness of climate grief, building a sustainable business wasn’t enough for Ellie. Earlier in 2020, right before the beginning of the pandemic, she was introduced to Nurya Parish, co-founder of Plainsong Farm, at the Rooted in Jesus conference. They immediately bonded over shared values and stayed connected through Twitter. So when Ellie opened her shop from her Texas home, she committed to donating 10% of all proceeds to Plainsong. Every time she gets a deposit, she gets excited to donate, “It’s one of my favorite parts of my little shop.”
When Ellie visited the farm for the first time in 2021, she experienced it as a “holy place.” As she balances her love for the earth and for her faith, Plainsong Farm is a space that represents living in that intersection, “Plainsong connects people to God and the earth and helps [them] ask deep questions.” She sees church not just as a building or community, but a connection to “the ground we’re standing on and what we can create in partnership with God on that earth.” Plainsong embodies this as a “place that understands using bodies to worship and find fellowship in creation.”
The idea of intertwining connectedness is an important one to Ellie. Through her shop, she is able to connect people from across the world with Plainsong, “The connectedness of endeavors in creating things is innate and engendered in caring about each other across the planet.” She encourages others to consider the moral questions she asks of her shop and incorporate them into their lives, “Everything is connected and my personal impact and connection isn’t just in my shop.”
Soon, Ellie will be extending her own personal impact by serving on the Episcopal Presiding Bishop’s Delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26. She looks forward to “advocacy and learning and reporting back to the church with key takeaways and strategies.”
For now, she continues her practice of creating sustainable fiber art as best she can, “There is no purely ethical road so you have to take the best and put one foot in front of the other.”
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