Our Story

For the latest August 2016 update, click here.

May 2009

In 1973 I was 23 years old. For the first half of my big year, I was a top salesman for one of Southern California’s largest home builders. The sales team numbered over 150 agents and covered some 50 subdivisions from Los Angeles to Laguna Niguel. I had had no previous experience with success and did not handle it well. The second half of 1973 was about losing. I didn’t do that well either. The next decade was spent rejecting a life style that had caused me too much suffering through many, though duly earned, humiliations. It was a long arduous journey comprised of wintry nights and snow storms spent huddled in a nylon tent on Mt. Whitney reading St. Teresa’s ‘Way of Perfection’ by candlelight, summer alone in the desert with St. John of the Cross’s ‘Dark Night of the Soul’, a Benedictine monastery here, a Byzantine monastery there. All the while I looked in vain for a job or a place where I could belong.

In 1976 I was at the annual Laguna Beach Art Festival when I saw something I have never forgotten. A fellow had carved beautiful Hebrew characters into marble tablets, framed his artwork and was offering them for sale. As years passed, I often imagined myself tucked away in a desert hermitage, praying the office, living an austere simple life while making a living carving the Lord’s Word into stone.

In 1981, between my second enlistment in the U.S. Navy Seabees and yet another foray into sales, I had my chance to try it. A friend was being ordained a Catholic Priest and I went looking for an appropriate gift. The monastery had an extensive library so a ‘special book’ was not it. I searched religious gift and book stores in my area but didn’t find anything that met the mark. I decided to try to carve a replica of an early Koine Greek manuscript in stone. It was a thrill to do and while I have had more than my fair share of blessed moments with the Lord, I say that I have never felt so emotionally connected to God as I did during that work. I attempted to recreate the magic and spent the next four years trying. Gradually my notions of a hermitage and an austere life in prayer gave way to visions of being the tycoon of the religious gift and bookstore industry. I began to look for the right buyer who would say something like; “I’ll take 10,000 units of everything you make.” When that came close, but didn’t happen, I put Antiquity in crates and either stored it safely somewhere or have carried it with me, for these last twenty-five years. My darling wife has indulged me this eccentricity for twenty of them.

Recently, we noticed we were entering a time in our lives when we had fewer opportunities for conventional employment which opened opportunities for more exciting and fulfilling endeavors. LOL. We decided in March of this year 2009 to open up the crates and wake Antiquity from her twenty-five year sleep. As we began, we agreed to do this work prayerfully, to be unhurried, unpressured, to disregard costs and the efficient use of time; in short we agreed to love this work. We thought we’d start slowly and see how things might progress if we just came to it prayerfully and went about everything in God’s time.

Our mission statement is simple: To build the most beautiful word we are capable of building. We pray God will approve and hope you will love these works as much as we love building them.

We are Mary-Anne and Hal Ivie; we live in Shingletown, California which is a small, lovely, wooded community in the foothills of Northern California and are parishioners of Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Redding. From an office in our home, Mary-Anne takes the helm as Antiquity’s business manager.

I am the production guy from my peacefully tranquil shop in Red Bluff, about one rosary plus a canticle of mercy’s drive from home. Just the drive to the shop is a blessing that’s hard for a former Southern California guy to imagine. Some days I am the only driver on the road as I lollygag along incredible vistas of intense beauty, I am often struck slack-jawed at our Creator’s imagination and impeccable taste. The shop is perfect for this work. When I arrive I may put on a classical cd, the cattle seem to like that best, or the next cd of the New American Bible, maybe hymns … sometimes I just listen to the blessed silence. Anyway here are some pictures of where we do it. God bless us all.



April 20, 2012

Here are pictures of the ‘Traveling Show’ set up for the first time at our home. It surely was a nice picturesque spot amongst the pine trees.

August 25, 2016

Recently we were contacted and reminded we had not updated our website since June of 2012. So, I thought I should probably share some of our journey since our last up-date.

Our art was not received well; at least not by who we thought would be our market: Some 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, 650 thousand Eastern Rite Catholics, 550 thousand Protestants, and an unknown number comprised of various lovers of art and antiquities. We had poured our hearts and entire life’s accumulated financial security into this work. We had spent three years in development, design, procurement, production and packaging, packaging capable of withstanding world-wide shipments arriving as promised, in pristine condition, without a single pay-check of any kind. We lived ‘out of the bank’ for three years. We had thought our ‘roll-out’ would be Christmas Season 2010; it worked out to be Christmas Season 2011, a year longer without a pay-day than we planned. Near the end, and for the first time, we needed to use our 800 plus credit rating and borrowed unsecured money to fund our ‘Ad Campaign’. We contracted talented, professional, advertising help. We advertised on billboards in major cities, full page color ads in several well-known magazines…magazines with worldwide distribution..etc, it was very ‘pricey’. We thought if we sold out, 1000 units, it would be a miracle, if we sold 500 our efforts would be greatly encouraged, if we sold 200, we could survive to try again. We sold 14. We spent the next six months in shock. Near despair, we prayed… even more diligently than previously, fasting, begging God to save us. I told Mary-Anne, that we had our backs to the sea, Pharaoh’s Army was quickly approaching, we needed to stand fast and trust in God…He would surely save us, we would not falter in Faith. I was down to $55.00, comprised total, in two bank accounts. We were not yet behind in any bills, but our bills exceeded $5,000 monthly.

To clear our rented shop by the end of June 2012, I sold what we could for what it could bring, gave away what we would not pay to be ‘storing’, and threw away what we needed to. I begged one of my neighbors to handle our Chapter 7 Bankruptcy pro-bono, he very graciously accepted and took care of us as only a CPA Tax Attorney could. I placed a notice on my Facebook page and notified everyone I knew, many old friends I had not spoken to in over twenty years, every relative, ..also people I barely knew..of my plea to please buy our art, as we would soon be homeless if we did not have some sales. We needed 15 sales a month to keep hearth and home. My Pastor put a full page insert in our Church bulletin: “They Ivies will lose their home without help; please buy their beautiful art..etc ..” One lovely parishioner bought one of each.. and ‘rounded-up’ the cost. One Parishioner called to ask what the parish discount was? One said they would ‘buy one next month’.. but, then must have forgotten and didn’t. Those three were the only responses from our parish where we have worshipped for twenty-five years. Three days after my Facebook post, family flew in from 12,000 miles away, they arrived with LOTS OF LOVE, CHOCOLATES, SYMPATHY AND CASH: A LOT OF CASH! Mary-Anne got lucky, and found a good county government job nearly immediately, and for the next two years, we lived with our hands out; accepting all the saint like, herculean help given by our distant family in Singapore, Australia and local friends.. like our mechanic who ‘floated’ our gasoline more than once.. and our snow removal guy, who for three winters forgot to send a bill… With my head bowed in humiliation and gratitude I thanked God for parting the Red Sea and providing a way to keep our home and keep moving forward… there were times, (as we did not qualify for state assistance.. well, we did qualify for food stamps for part of that first quarter: But then didn’t anymore) that I begged for food from our parish food closet and also our local food locker here in Shingletown.

We believed that God had told us to build our art. We believed He had a purpose for all of this. We stored our art in our ‘attached-Mother-In-Law’ quarters: Boxed and ready to ship; stacked floor to ceiling, wall to wall, in our clean, carpeted, heated in winter, air conditioned in summer, 400 square foot rooms… for these last 4.75 years.

Through God’s grace, and our families HERCULEAN and ‘always-ready to help out’ can do generosity, we have survived, kept our home, our art… God’s Art, safe and sound…I suppose so that, just in case, the time should ever come when it is wanted.

I would like to publicly thank Mr. Jackson for his recent inquiry and purchase: We pray Mr. Jackson, you will love this work as much as we have. May God’s Blessings enfold you and yours and may your ‘Two Great Commandments’ become a cherished heirloom, in your family, until He comes again. Amen.

June 16, 2012

Mary-Anne and I can’t keep the production shop operating. We have sold our shelving, many tools, and donated what raw materials we felt would not sell. The shop will be vacant June 30. We have been finishing up the last 40 pieces, after that, we will never build more. We are storing 235 Two Great Commandments in Koine Greek ca 65AD but, sad to say, there are only 10 left of the beautiful Ten Commandments in Ktav Ivri ca 1300BCE. They will continue to be listed as available until sold-out. We have decided to up the prices considerably. The current prices will remain in effect until June 30, 2012. July 1 the prices will be increased. – Hal

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