Monday, June 8, 2009

The Trouble With Needlework Charts

As a part of my on-line heraldry business, I create a new 3"x3" needlework chart of some heraldic charge or other every month (the most recent dozen are always posted at I am now into my seventh year of doing these. (I published the first one in April 2003.) They are fairly small, so they really have to be kept relatively simple, else they end up not looking like much of anything. But after having created over 60-some charts, I find it is getting harder and harder to be original, to find "new" charges, even though I’ve even gone through a number of 15th and 16th C armorials for different artistic styles and charges seen more rarely in English heraldry. Indeed, I noticed recently that I had done two slightly different versions of the same charge (a grenade) just a few months apart, because I hadn’t carefully double-checked the running list that I keep of what charges I’ve done.

So I find myself casting about for new ideas for needlework charts. One that I find myself returning to is to do a series of shields with the ordinaries and subordinaries on them. Or maybe shields with the various simple and complex lines of division. But that feels like it’s taking me away from the original intent of the series, which was common (or now, increasingly uncommon) heraldic charges.

It’s always an odd feeling when you have something you intended to do trying to morph itself into something else. (Oh, no! It’s a Transformer!) And yet that’s something that happens to nearly every artist that I know. And so it is in heraldry, as in all of life, that there are lessons to be learned. This one, I think, is that I shouldn’t try to force it, but just open my mind to greater, or at least different, possibilities. Every month. Because there’s a whole wide world of heraldry out there, just waiting for me to re-discover it.

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