Hearts & Amethysts For February

Descending Dove With Amethyst

Descending Dove With Amethyst

The birthstone for February is the beautiful purple amethyst gemstone and Valentine’s Day brings heart jewelry into favor this month. I started my line of Christian symbol jewelry in 1988 with a heart theme. Many of these early designs incorporating symbols within hearts are shown in the grouping below. (Click the photos to link to my website where you’ll find more details and prices on each piece.) Some of the names of my heart themed pieces are “Hearts Entwined In Christ”, “Shine In My Heart”, “Peace of the Lord”, “Heart Ablaze”, “One In The Spirit”, and “Holy Spirit Alight In My Heart”. Each comes with a printed gift enclosure weaving the combination of symbols into a story, giving the wearer a message of faith to share with the world.

Symbolic Heart Jewelry Designs

From The Heart Symbolic Jewelry

The American Gem Society reports that amethyst, is a purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth.  English regalia were decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. This symbolism also ties to it’s use in the Church today as purple is the biblical color associated with royalty. The things of the King are often referred to as being royal such as the royal city and royal priesthood. Purple is the liturgical color often used to represent the passion of Christ and used in seasons of penitence and mourning.

Canterbury Cross With Amethyst

Canterbury Cross With Amethyst

The word amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos,” meaning sober.  In ancient Greece, the gemstone was associated with the god of wine, and it was common practice to serve this beverage from amethyst goblets in the belief that this would prevent overindulgence. February’s purple birthstone has been found among the possessions of royalty throughout the ages.  The intense violet hue of amethyst appealed to early monarchs, perhaps because they often wore this color. Purple dye was scarce and expensive at one time, and so it was reserved for the garments of kings and queens. Amethyst has been found in ruins dating as far back as the ninth century, adorning crowns, scepters, jewelry, and breastplates worn into battle.  A large amethyst is among the closely guarded gemstones in the British Crown Jewels.

Gift of God Sterling Silver Amethyst Cross

Gift of God Amethyst Cross

I designed my “Gift of God” cross to resemble the ribbon of a bow, symbolizing the gift. “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith… It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift.” Eph. 2:8-9 This amethyst cross is shown on my website on a purple cord which is a popular option for wearing many of the gemstone designs.

As always, I encourage my customers to not feel limited by the gem assigned to their  month of birth but to enjoy any special connection to their birthstone, while embracing all gem colors that appeal to them. Color is a spice of life!

All designs shown are available for immediate delivery on date of this post (February 2, 2012). Ordering/purchasing information may be found on the contact page of my website and prices for each piece shown are posted  on each design’s page (click each image).

Symbol Designs With Garnet Gemstones

Sterling Cross With Garnet

Bishop Alard Cross W/ Garnet

The birthstone for January is a garnet, one of my favorite colored gemstones. As we begin a new year, I thought it might be fun to share a blog post each month to spotlight some of my designs available with the month’s birthstone(s). Click each photo to link to more information about the design on my website. As a longtime lover of  the large spectrum of colored gemstones, I have always encouraged my customers to not feel limited by the gem assigned to their  month of birth but to enjoy any special connection to their birthstone, while embracing all gem colors that make their heart sing. I have often included color symbolism in my stories that accompany my symbol designs with gemstones. The garnet for me symbolizes the blood of Christ when used in a cross. I found it interesting to read that Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to a pomegranate seed. The pomegranate is a very symbolic image used throughout history.

sterling canterbury cross with garnet

Sterling Canterbury Cross With Garnet

A little online research leads to some history and lore about birthstones. The American Gem Society states “The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The current list dates back to 1912 with only one addition since then – the tanzanite was added to December.” They include a color photo list arranged by month where you may click on the month you were born to learn the history of your birthstone. Many Museums of Natural Science & History include information too. The Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture has some interesting science and legend behind birthstones stating “how powerful it is to have our month of birth represented by a beautiful natural gemstone. We can own and display our special stone and feel embraced by its beauty”.

Descending Dove pendant with Rhodolite Garnet

"The Spirit In Motion" Descending Dove W/ Rhodolite Garnet

The American Gem Society states, “Garnet, the birthstone for January,  signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend.  Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to a pomegranate seed.  References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry.  Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites.  Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.” Personally, I am quite fond of tsavorite garnets that rival the color of emeralds. The Burke Museum website shows a garnet in it’s naturally occurring state, and suggests “The next time you eat a pomegranate, you will notice the seeds’ resemblance to garnet.”

All designs shown are available for immediate delivery on date of this post (January 18, 2012). Ordering/purchasing information may be found on the contact page of my website and prices for each piece shown are posted  on each design’s page (click each image).

Sterling Silver Gift Of God Cross W/ Garnet on Leather Cord

Sterling Silver "Gift Of God" Cross W/ Garnet On Red Leather Cord

Collaborations Of The Spirit

a gallery show featuring the artwork of Nancy Denmark in collaboration with Margaret Bailey and Celia Clowe

“Collaborations of the Spirit” will take place at Duckie and the Grackle Gallery in Lake Jackson, Texas on July 22, 23, and 24. The gallery is located downtown at 145 Oyster Creek Drive in Suite 9. While featuring the collaborative projects, the three-day show will also include the individual work of each artist. Come to meet the artists and preview their work at an opening reception on Friday, July 22, from 5pm until 8pm. The show will continue on Saturday from 11am to 5pm and Sunday from 1pm to 5pm.

a gallery show of collaborative artwork

Collaborations of the Spirit Opens Friday July 22

Much of Nancy Denmark’s newest work has been collaborative as she finds refreshment of her creative spirit in working with other artists. Nancy Denmark and Margaret Bailey’s first collaborative piece was made years ago at the request of a mutual customer to mount one of Nancy’s sterling symbol jewelry designs on one of Margaret’s cedar wall crosses. This opened the door for a new artistic journey and Nancy now finds herself seeking out and inviting other artists to collaborate with her on new projects. This show will be the first exhibition of work created in collaboration with Celia Clowe. Celia has incorporated some of Nancy’s soulful symbolic designs onto her one-of-a-kind Spirit Blocks using etched and embossed metals, and polymer clay. Both artists concur the presence of the Spirit was evident in the creative sparks when Celia and Nancy met to infuse their unique voices into the new collaborative Spirit Block project.

Nancy Denmark is a jewelry artist by profession & obsession, yet plays in many art forms. This playful approach has led Nancy in many new directions outside the “jewelry box”. Her materials run the gamut from precious metals to polymer clay. Nancy says, “As an artist, I try to remain open, willing, always listening and discerning how I am being called to use the gifts I have been given.” Known by many for her original jewelry designs that incorporate Christian symbology, Nancy has been creating these wearable statements of faith for 25 years.

Margaret Bailey, a wood artist, finds inspiration in the quote “God rides the lame horse, God carves the rotten wood”. She handcrafts wood crosses, nativities and symbols by carefully choosing and studying the unique grains, knots, and features of each piece of wood. Many of her crosses are made from local Quintana Beach driftwood. Margaret allows the journey of the wood, to lead her to what she will make from it. Her pieces are all sanded to a silky smooth finish adding a soothing tactile experience to the visual beauty of her work.

Celia Clowe is a mixed-media collage artist, self-described as an overeducated geologist with a Renaissance collection of skills and talents. Celia’s artistic journey has led her to create original Spirit Blocks, smallish 3D mixed media wooden blocks. Celia invites you to connect with the Spirit Block that speaks to your soul and place it where it can be glimpsed often as a reminder of the fullness and celebration of the Spirit within you.

All three guest artists, along with gallery owners Cherie and Glenn McBride, share a bond of faith as members of a national community of artists who work at the intersections of art and faith. All value the significance of visual imagery in spiritual formation and create in response to their own faith experience. The influence of nature is another significant kindred connection that is obvious in the work of these five artists making for a very cohesive gallery exhibition.

Artful Mother’s Day Gifts Will Abound

This Saturday!!! April 30 10am-5pm Please Come to A SHOW OF FRIENDS

at J. West Studio 2103 Commonwealth @ Indiana in Houston

Nancy Denmark jewelry, wall crosses & more
Jean West art glass & jewelry
Margaret Bailey handcrafted wood
Marilyn Cameron pottery

What a timely shopping opportunity for an artful Mother’s Day gift.

Art Show of Jean West, Nancy Denmark, Margaret Bailey, Marilyn Cameron

A Show Of Friends

I am intentionally transitioning from a heavy show schedule to a stronger web presence and online sales. But I do expect to continue getting out there from time to time to sell my stuff, just less often is the plan. So don’t miss this opportunity to come see some beautiful handmade wares in person. That person to person contact between artist and customer is invaluable and I do still enjoy the face to face opportunities as I know the art lover enjoys the hands on buying experience. I also enjoy the camaraderie of being with other artists at shows, so it seemed apropos that if I was going to do only one spring show it should be A Show Of Friends! We have been showing together for some years now but this is the first time we are trying this Show Of Friends at J. West Studio in the spring. Please help us make it a success and come on out to see the show this Saturday. We’ll also have some refreshments to welcome our guests. The show is in a lovely historic Victorian courtyard at J. West Glass Studio, where the setting complements the art of four talented women friends.

Click any photo below to view a preview album of our art offerings. Directions and map to the show below.

Looking Down To Shady Courtyard

Come By For A Shady Visit In The Courtyard

Stunning Spiral Staircase

Visit Nancy & Jean's Displays Upstairs

Margaret Bailey's beautiful wood display

Margaret Bailey's Beautiful Wood Display

directions to find J. West Studio

Directions and a Map To A Show Of Friends

National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day

Today, March 29 is National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day, a day set aside to recognize the importance of independent entrepreneurs, small businesses, and family owned companies to our national economy. In today’s business parlance, “mom and pop shops” are often called “microbusinesses” (if they have 5 or fewer employees). This inspires me to share our stories as micro business owners.

My world revolves around the life of our small businesses as my husband, Richard Florack and I both own and operate our sole proprietorships. We personify the term “microbusinesses”.  My husband owns and operates Lakeside Optical in Katy, Texas with one part-time employee (his sister), and I operate my full time art business on my own from a rural studio near Brookshire, Texas.

I started my own jewelry design business in 1980 when I took the leap of faith to quit my job (in a mom and pop jewelry store) and trust that I could make it on my own. I worked from a small apartment in 1980 with a work space, (complete with casting equipment and torches) set up in a tiny closet size 3rd room of a 1 bedroom apartment. When I decided to take this step, I called my parents and asked them if they would feed me if I had some poor times and I called my then boyfriend Rick (husband to be) and asked him the same thing. Both parents and boyfriend offered their pledge of support, even though my parents had some concerns about me quitting my job. My boyfriend, already in business for himself with his dad in their own “Mom and Pop” or “Son and Pop” business encouraged me to go for it! The good news is that I never needed to ask anyone for grocery money or loans but I certainly knew how to stretch my dollars in those early lean times. I’ve come a long way baby from my tiny apartment studio beginnings.

Four years later in 1984, my boyfriend became my husband. I think much of our common ground is our entrepreneurial spirits and is a strong base for our marriage.  Trust is a huge part of starting and running small businesses as it is of utmost importance in a marriage. Success in a mom and pop business requires trust between the proprietor and the customer. We build our businesses one relationship at a time, earning trust and forming loyal lifelong customers. That is a hard to find shopping experience in today’s shopping culture of big box stores. Building such trust requires forming a relationship with each customer and personalizing their shopping experience with us. Only happy customers come back and the micro business relies on repeat customers.

As my own website business is growing, I find myself forming good relationships with customers across the country. I purposely do not have a shopping cart on my website as I need to have contact with each customer. Since so many of my art products are one-of-a-kind I can’t risk selling the product at a show while someone is trying to buy it from the website at the same time.  I need to have some kind of conversation with the buyer by email, facebook message, or phone to discern if I can meet their expectations for delivery of the product. While I’m sure I lose some impulse website sales by not having a shopping cart, I think I am building a stronger clientele by having the interactions with the long distance customers. Many are amazed that the person on the other end of the phone is the artist. It always will be as I don’t have, or plan to have, any employees to answer the phone, (or scrub a floor or toilet for that matter). As I state many places… “I am the company, and the company is me!” I am humbled and grounded by wearing so many hats as an artist and business owner.

So today being “National Mom and Pop Business Owners Day” seems like a good day to share our personal micro business stories and say thank you to all those folks who have kept us in business all these years! Here’s to building many more relationships, one customer at a time! YOU are worth our time as we can’t make it without you. We thank YOU, for putting food on our table, a roof over our head, and for the blessings of experience that come with small business ownership.

In Gratitude,
Nancy & Rick

(click each photo to visit our websites for more information about our businesses)

Lakeside Optical Katy Texas

Lakeside Optical in Katy, Texas

Nancy Denmark Jewelry Artist Website

Nancy Denmark, Jewelry Artist Website

Nancy Denmark's Booth at a Show
Nancy Denmark’s Exhibit Booth

Feelin’ The Green of New Life With Malachite

Sterling Silver Gift Of God Ribbon Cross With Malachite

Sterling Silver Gift Of God Ribbon Cross With Malachite

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I’m feelin’ the green today, so thought I’d share something green with my “Gift Of God” sterling silver cross pendant design set with a malachite cabochon stone. The scripture that accompanies this design is “For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith… It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift.” Eph. 2:8-9
I designed this cross to resemble the ribbon of a bow, symbolizing the gift.

Since St. Patrick used the shamrock as a symbol of the Trinity to teach about the Christian faith, I decided to do a quick photo shoot outside to show this design with a bit of the Irish spirit on my blog today. My yard is always a mass of this somewhat annoying oxalis weed in early spring. When I take photos I see things in a different way, in a new light, and today it did not seem like a weed. “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” ~A.A. Milne Many times my seeing and knowing just has to do with getting “up close and personal” and spending time with the subject and sometimes it has more to do with looking at something enlarged on the computer screen. In those varied ways the subject often speaks to me in a new way through my photography. Through the photo composition, the oxalis or shamrock entered the pondering of today’s subject matter. As a prolific, invasive weed, the oxalis is something troublesome to deal with as we clean out the flower beds each spring preparing for new plantings. “But a weed is simply a plant that wants to grow where people want something else.  In blaming nature, people mistake the culprit.  Weeds are people’s idea, not nature’s.” ~Author Unknown So many times I find myself drawn to photograph the pretty little surprises of nature that pop up in the grass. When photographing the weeds I don’t think of them in negative ways. I appreciate them for their beauty and stand in awe and wonder of their intricacies while contemplating their complexities and any messages they may hold for me. “What is a weed?  A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

My time spent behind the camera is often precious God time since it leads to deep thought. I kept noticing the lovely heart shapes that compose the trinitarian shamrock. The heart shapes led me to ponder relationships which eventually brought me back to the Trinity and the relationship of the three persons in one and my relationship to each. Then I thought about love and more relationships. I contemplated the symbolism of green as new life and growth and back again to the gifts and Gift of God.

While I received many messages today in the photo shoot of my cross design juxtaposed against the shamrock, I am left pondering the ways in which the gift of God’s grace is shown to me through “my weeds” or the unwanted things in my life. If I ponder life’s unwanted things in the new light of that grace, I find them to be more embraceable. My experience of new life often comes in the form of new thinking or re-thinking old thoughts and ideas. I think that’s what we are called to do during Lent…to rethink our lives, renew our spirits in reflection, and to recommit ourselves to living by the Spirit, in relationship with our trinitarian God.

This cross design H23 The Gift Of God, is available with many gemstone choices. Click the image to see the jewelry design on my website with more details and ordering information.

Symbolic Jewelry Created As Lenten Discipline

Every year as I head into Lent I find myself reflecting on my first experience of taking on a Lenten discipline, since it was such a productive experience for me. In 1988, my discipline was to create a body of work through which I could share my faith through my art. Here’s a piece of my story that I have shared before but is worth repeating again and again, especially on the anniversary of taking on this endeavor.

Christian theme heart jewelry designs Nancy Denmark

Heart Themed Jewelry In My "From The Heart Line"

“In the late 80’s, after hearing a stewardship sermon, I felt called to communicate the love of God through my jewelry work. I understood it to be my responsibility, as a good steward of my artistic gifts, to create a body of work for the Glory of God. It was the best way for me to give God a good return on his investment in me. As a Lenten discipline, I created the first pieces of my line of jewelry incorporating Christian symbology. I named it “From the Heart Line” as many of my first pieces were hearts incorporating different Christian symbols. Through the years, I have continued to add to that original body of work, which is now over 60 designs strong. With that first calling, I committed to give each piece a story or scripture explanation to help the wearer communicate their faith to others with words, as well as the visual design. One of my favorite quotes, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, is “Tell everyone around you of the great love of God. When all else fails, use words.” It is my goal as an artist that each jewelry piece stands on its own as good design without the attached symbolism. It is also my goal that the symbols will communicate without words. This often results in perfect strangers, being drawn to comment on the design, opening a door for the wearer to share their story of faith. My ministry is sharing the love and glory of God through my design work, offering the wearer a “love story” to visibly wear and verbally share.”

This line of symbolic jewelry may also be viewed in my catalog brochure available for download on my website. Printed at 100% the images in the brochure are actual size, with stories, symbolism, and prices. The BROCHURE tab is accessible from any web page. A simple click on the word BROCHURE will download a pdf file catalog/brochure with current pricing.

Clicking on the above image of heart jewelry, will take you to my web page featuring this group. The web page lists these designs by name and ordering code with purple links to view and read about each jewelry design shown in the image above. To place orders, visit the contact page on my website for instructions.

Fat Tuesday and the Art Warrior

Fat Tuesday is here and has me wanting to pull out a few celebratory stops on this last day before Lent. Maybe it’s those Mardi Gras colors speaking to me again, but I think I heard my “Art Warrior” here sending me a few messages in preparation for Lent.

Warrior Spirit Block By CeliaCloweCreations

My "Art Warrior" made by CeliaCloweCreations

This beautiful piece was made by an artist friend. She calls these mixed media pieces Spirit Blocks. (Click the image to visit her website). When I selected it at a spring art show I didn’t know it’s name. After deciding to buy it, I looked at the tag and saw it was named “Warrior”. So I say this piece symbolizes my art warrior spirit. It has a place in my house near a door that leads me out of my house and into my studio.

Sometimes I give something up for Lent but I almost always take something on as a Lenten discipline. My “From The Heart Line” of Christian symbol faith inspired jewelry began as a Lenten discipline. So I am pondering on this last day before Lent just how disciplined I’ll be this year. I have promised to get in the studio and make more art for the glory of God. Utilizing my God-given gifts is good stewardship, giving God a good return on his investment in me. But discipline is not always my strong suit so it will be a challenge. For me, the point of any discipline or giving up in Lent is to forge a stronger relationship between God and me. Maybe I’ll blog a little about the challenges along this Lenten journey or maybe I’ll need to give up some blogging time for more time in the studio. My Lenten discipline will take shape as I journey though the next 40 days and hopefully I’ll reach Easter with a whole new body of work.

So maybe my “Art Warrior” here will be whispering a few more messages for me as I head out the door to my studio. Or maybe her serene spirit will be a reminder to spend my studio time as meditation time in conversation with my Great Creator who inspires my work. Or maybe she’ll just serve as a quiet reminder for me to stop procrastinating and get out there and get to work. The journey begins… tomorrow…

Today I have a little more celebrating left to do.

Uplifted, Awakened, Alive, & Inspired to Create

Today’s lectionary readings for the last Sunday after Epiphany, led me to a search, that led me to a blog I often stubble upon and always enjoy, titled “The Painted Prayerbook”. She posed some questions that have me pondering more upon the theme of transfiguration. I looked up the word transfiguration, with this definition and example provided: “a complete change of form or appearance into a more beautiful or spiritual state: in this light the junk undergoes a transfiguration; it shines” That example reminded me that I have blogged about this transfiguration theme before in a 2009 post I titled “Hoping my junk may shine today…

I’m also reflecting on the collect read in Episcopal Churches today from the Book of Common Prayer: “O God, who before the passion of your only­begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

In my former 2009 blog post on this subject, I was focused on the transformation of my burden or chore into something that may shine for Christ. Today I am pondering more about how Christ is revealed to me in daily things that may still hold the power to stun me. As “spring has sprung” here in all abundance these last weeks I am finding myself in daily awe and wonder. I think the blogger’s posed questions have led me to answer that it is in the daily wonders of nature that Christ is often revealed to me. By staying awake and in tune to these glories in nature I can’t help but be transfigured.

I took this photo last night of the sun setting behind the Hawthorn trees that just busted out in bloom in our pasture. The “light of his countenance” was surely revealed to me in this scene. His glory is revealed to me over and over in moments like these.

transfiguration hawthorn tree bloom

The Light Of His Countenance Shining Through Our Blooming Hawthorn Tree

How does this change the way I move through my daily life? Uplifted, awakened, alive, aspiring, appreciative, in gratitude, and inspired to create. In the act of “co-creation” with the Great Creator, I am further changed into his likeness. To this I aspire.

cross with nature impressions

"impressions Of Nature" Cross Inspired By Nature

May we be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Click this cross image to view a special pectoral cross made for Bishop Greg Rickel with impressions from nature. The symbolism and photo journal of the process of making his cross are found in the same web gallery.

More crosses inspired by and made from nature available for purchase may be found in my web gallery titled Impressions Of Nature.

A New Twist On Mardi Gras Beads!

I think half the reason I love Mardi Gras is because I love Mardi Gras colors! This piece was a blast to make as I built my polymer clay pendant frame around the details of the Donna Montez fused glass cab.

fused glass polymer clay beads nancy denmark

A New Twist On Mardi Gras Beads

This gorgeous piece has sold but I’m on my way to a bead show to buy from my favorite glass artists. These four talented ladies call themselves the Texas Hot Flashes. Some of our collaborative creations are shown in their Guest Artist Web Gallery.

Better run so I get some good pickin’s on the best beads…clicking the above image will lead you to my web gallery of these new collaborative glass and polymer beaded pieces. Watch for more to come from what I buy today. I’ll be like a kid in a candy shop!!!! Can’t wait to feast my eyes upon the colors!