Liturgical Furnishings from Soma Studio in Toronto

It is tempting to think of high quality, ornate woodworking in the realm of the liturgical arts as a thing of the past. The reality, however, is that such craftsmanship can still be found today if you go looking for it. One example that I recently ran into was by way of Soma Studio who are based out of Toronto, Canada.  The design firm in question has a much broader focus than the liturgical, but it was their liturgical portfolio which I stumbled across that caught my attention.

To date they seem to have primarily been commissioned to create cathedras and sedilla though their past commissions have also included altar screens.  This has included projects for the Cathedral of St. John the Bapitist in Charleston, South Carolina, as well as various projects for the Cathedral of Christ the King in Hamilton, Ontario.

Hand carved from white oak. Cathedral of Christ the King, Hamilton, Canada.


Hand carved from white oak wth carved armrests and silk damask.
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Charleston, South Carolina

Hand carved in white oak with silk upholstery and embroidered episcopal arms.
Cathedral of Christ the King, Hamilton, Canada. 


Sedilia. Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, South Carolina

Here is a little background from Soma:
In 1980, Andrew Fee began working on the restoration of Cathedrals and churches in Canada and the United States. During that period he was commissioned to produced several pieces of Liturgical furniture, Bishop's Chairs, Celebrant's Chairs, Altar Screens, Acolytes Stools and Celebrant's Tables were some of the labour-intensive one-of-a-kind pieces created. All where hand-made of solid white oak using traditional hand-carving techniques and finishes. In addition, many of the chairs were upholstered with velvet or damask silk shot with gold thread. One of two magnificent Bishop's Chair's had a hand-painted and gilded leather crest while the other was finished with hand-embroidered metallic and silk thread.
It's not clear to me whether Soma still pursues liturgical design or not, but at very least it seems worth sharing some of these works. What I know for certain is that such firms and craftsmen are still out there, so resist resigning yourself to the idea that these things are no longer possible.

Photo credits: Soma Studio
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