Ellen Drake’s ceramic angels are at Sacred Garden Bookstore - and all over the world.
The tiny clay figures, which Ellen makes at home, have brought much healing and joy. The first angel was made by Ellen’s friend and Holy Trinity parishioner Ann Vaughn.
“I started taking pottery one fall,” Ann remembers. “In December that year, I decided to make an angel, so I cut the clay and made two angels and put them in the kiln room at the pottery studio to be fired. When I went back to get them, I couldn’t find them. But that was ok, because I didn’t think they were very good, so I didn’t worry about it.
“Then, Ellen’s son William died in January,” Ann says. “I went back to class, and there they were. I put one on William’s niche in the columbarium. Then, the grass was mowed and it got broken, but I glued it together and gave it to Ellen again. That spring I got Ellen to take a pottery class with me and she was hooked almost immediately.”
“It was a good outlet during the grief process. It’s very hands-on, of the earth,” Ellen says.
Ellen’s angels, which are usually about three inches tall and glazed in a variety of colors, have now found homes everywhere.
“They’ve been taken by missionaries to China and Africa. They’ve been sent as gifts to Germany and other countries, as well,” says Ellen. “I used to keep up with the numbers, but that made it more about me, and these angels aren’t about me.”
Proceeds from the sale of the angels fund the William Drake Youth Fund at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
“They’re simple little guys,” Ellen says. “They’re primitive.” And each one is different. Ellen says the clay leads her, and the angels almost work themselves out of it.
Her signature on the bottom of each piece is four dots, which she makes with a nail she found in her house. The dots represent her husband Bill, herself, William, and daughter Jean Gray. Jean Gray, who is an artist, also uses the signature.
“People just light up when they receive one, particularly folks who are not feeling well or who have experienced some kind of trauma or tragedy in their lives,” says one Holy Trinity member. “These angels are just remarkable symbols of God’s loving presence with us.”
“It’s astonishing to me that people like them so much. It’s so humbling,” Ellen says. “The clay grounded me. It has fed me. All I’ve gotten from the angels has been good.”