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Published: Saturday, 8/13/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

From ceramics to soap

It's all Franciscan

BY DAVID YONKE
BLADE RELIGION EDITOR
Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak shows part of her mural. Some of her art is for sale at All Good Things shop at Sylvania’s Lourdes College. Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak shows part of her mural. Some of her art is for sale at All Good Things shop at Sylvania’s Lourdes College.
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Sister Jane Mary Sorosiak is in the middle -- quite literally -- of one of her large ceramic mosaics.

The energetic nun strides across a paper sketch of the 15-by-18-foot artwork on the floor of Alverno Studio, on the grounds of the Sisters of St. Francis campus in Sylvania, pointing out details of the mosaic about Jesus feeding the 5,000. When finished this fall, the mosaic will grace an arched wall of a dining hall being built at Lourdes College in Sylvania.

"I always do big things. I don't like to do little things," she said.

Wearing an artist's smock over her brown and beige nun's habit, she patiently explains the intricate process of creating her famous mosaics.

She starts with a small design in watercolor, then blows it up to full size. The clay is cut into hundreds of pieces, each numbered, then painted with up to eight layers of glaze. The pieces are heated at a low temperature, then glazed again and reheated at 2,300 degrees. The finished pieces are then put in place by workmen under her watchful eye.

It takes teamwork to construct one of her mosaics, which are displayed at churches, Catholic hospitals, and other religious venues from New York to California. Many are in the Toledo area, including Lourdes College, Resurrection Cemetery, Olivet Lutheran Church, and St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church.

Now fans of her art can take some of her creations home. The Sisters of St. Francis have opened a store on campus called All Good Things, selling original artwork, prints, cards, jewelry, prayer pillows, and the nuns' line of "Holy Aromas" soaps, lotions, and oils. Proceeds benefit mission projects and other works.

The shop, opened in a converted mail room at the convent, displays smaller ceramic artworks of crosses, frogs, and other designs made from molds of Sister Jane Mary's work.

With wall-sized mosaics taking months and teams of people to create, their costs are high and the art is usually commissioned by institutions. Sister Margaret Hall of the Sylvania Franciscans, who works beside Sister Jane Mary in the studio, came up with the idea of using molds to make the artworks available and affordable to the average person.

Even so, each ceramic piece is hand-glazed with multiple layers, making each one unique, Sister Rosamund Jasinski said.

The Holy Aromas line was started by Sister Karen Zielinski, who uses pure and natural ingredients such as lavender and vanilla in her recipes.

The Holy Aromas line of soaps, lotion, washes, and oils uses pure and natural ingredients. The Holy Aromas line of soaps, lotion, washes, and oils uses pure and natural ingredients.
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"All our soaps are dermatologically safe," she said.

She has been learning, through trial and error, how to mix and blend ingredients since beginning Holy Aromas six years ago. She has a passion for her products, aiming to create scents that meet her high standards and her keen sense of smell. The result is a line that is "pure and gentle for the person and for the environment. It's very much in line with our spirituality and our philosophy," she said.

All Good Things is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Sylvania Franciscan nuns' campus, 6832 Convent Blvd. Information is available by calling 419-824-3749 or online at allgoodthingsosf.org.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.



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