This grouping shows the smaller designs available in my “From The Heart Line” sterling silver Christian symbol jewelry series. I have been creating and growing this line of faith inspired jewelry since 1988. I include a gift enclosure of symbolism with each piece, offering the wearer a “love story” to visibly wear and verbally share. Read more about these visual stories & wearable statements of faith on my website. All shown may be ordered and delivered in time for Christmas gifting. A gift that centers on the reason we celebrate this season.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
I look forward to ending this week with a show in my hometown of Orange, Texas. It is a nice juxtaposition to show my creations in the context of the home where it all began. I grew up in an unusually contemporary home for the time and place and my early exposure to clean simple design definitely shaped, influenced, and developed my own sense of design. I think growing up in a “not so normal” house in a small town also gave me the courage to step out on my own and “march to the beat of a different drummer”. My “going home” to show has brought me to much reflection on early influences in my life and how they worked together to shape and form me as an artist. The years of our childhood are such a short window of time in the big scheme of our lives but yet those early years are ever so important in our adult formation. I am very grateful for the people and things that shaped my life. I hope to share more along this theme as the week goes on and I continue to reflect upon the many variations and concepts that “going home” conjures up in my mind. And if you live in the Orange/ Golden Triangle area, do stop in for our Open House & Art.
Here are a few quotes I have been reflecting on as I start this new week.
“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.” Oliver Wendell Holmes
“If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away. ” Henry David Thoreau
I am finding myself a bit overwhelmed with chairperson duties for a fundraiser at my church this weekend. Of course it is an event that my friend Margaret and I created for the church so I have no one to blame but myself! My big ideas often lead to lots of work. I also have a speaking engagement on Thursday morning. When I committed to both in the same week, I knew it could be a bit much, but trusted in advance that I would find a way to pull it off. So I started this week, lying in bed early Monday morning, thinking I should just accept that I would most likely “fly by the seat of my pants” this week. Then I lay there wondering where that saying comes from anyway. First thing Monday morning, with my morning espresso routine, I googled it. The meaning I found: “Decide a course of action as you go along, using your own initiative and perceptions rather than a pre-determined plan or mechanical aids.”
That is pretty much how my week is unfolding and I’m really going to hope for the best that this style works as I give my talk at St. Dunstan’s on Thursday morning. There will be some kind of advance prep and I guess it may appear here as my next blog post. I realize that this blog was probably made manifest the first week of November because I woke up on November 1, realizing it was time I gather my thoughts for this presentation.
I would like to think that the trust, hope, and using my own initiative is guided by the Holy Spirit. Trusting that the Spirit is the wind beneath my wings, I take these things on, knowing I will be given what I need, as I need it. As this week continues to unfold I will greet the opportunities with gratitude. I trust my chaos will turn to order as I go along. I am grateful I have these opportunities to serve. These occasions always seem to present opportunities to encourage others which gives me joy. I am grateful that my church trusts me with these events I dream up, and gives me a big green light to run with them. I am grateful that the Daughters of the King at St. Dunstan’s believe I have a story worth sharing. As I fly by the seat of my pants this week I will trust that the Spirit has a hold of one of my belt loops and will see that I don’t fall as I fly.
Working on my attitude of gratitude this morning, I found this quote which so eloquently sums it up: “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…. It turns problems into gifts, failures into success, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” ~Melodie Beattie
And of course I have a responsibility as a co-chair of this event, to not miss an opportunity to make my plea for folks to come on out and support it! We have a nice variety of show offerings and this will be my last local show before Christmas. More preview photos may be viewed online here.
ABOUT MY SYMBOL JEWELRY
Visual Stories and Statements of Faith…
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 55 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.
every picture tells a story…
Being an artist, I am such a visual person, so I seem to learn best through visual means. I remember focusing on the symbols in church settings as a child. I still use the big beautiful window in my church today as a place to focus my eyes while listening during the service. God “speaks” to me through all my senses, but the visual often seems to provide the most direct line of communication for me. For me, symbols serve as portals to enter a world of thought, contemplation, meditation, or just pure pondering. I am constantly researching symbols for historic as well as contemporary meanings yet I’m not afraid to create my own, since “every picture tells a story”. How primal and basic. Mankind has been communicating with pictures from the beginning of time. My research always leads me to inspiration, better understanding of concepts, and spiritual growth, which in turn is reflected in my design work. One time I took a step back and looked at the body of work I had created over time and realized through my choice of symbols and stories it was a pictorial time line of my own life experience. I can often recall the life event speaking to me at the time that influenced my design or the naming of the design. This body of work is my own story of faith.
more about the storytelling…
I feel I can best communicate my faith through the use of symbols and I especially like to combine symbols to tell a story. That began with my first pieces when I incorporated different symbols into hearts. One of my older, yet still favorite designs is “One In the Spirit” which tells a story through the combination of 2 hearts, a fish, and a cross all entwined inside the outer shape of a descending dove. The accompanying story fleshes out the design with, ” Two hearts joined together by and in Christ form a union, which is encompassed by the Holy Spirit.” Another design incorporates sheep, a shepherd’s crook and wheat in a quatrefoil shaped cross, titled “Feed My Sheep”. Those 4 symbols combine to tell a big story about our relationship with our Lord as the “sheep of his pasture” and our own call to “feed his sheep” by taking the gospel to the ends of the earth. Most of my designs are much more than a static symbol, or a smattering of unrelated symbols. Even if the piece is a lone symbol, its shape will communicate more, like the “Spirit In Motion” or “Filled with the Spirit”. Each is a simple descending dove but a dove that is in motion with flame like wings. My fish are fluid, emoting a sense of the fish moving through water.
my Source and motivation…
I hope my work reflects that it is inspired by a Source greater than me. People often ask how do you come up with your ideas? There also seems to be a pervading thought that one would run out of ideas. I cannot fathom ever running out of ideas. There are so many known and unknown designs begging me to give them life but I know I will not live long enough to ever make that happen. I also trust in the Source from whence they flow. It is an ever-flowing fountain for anyone who chooses to drink. I often have people sharing their “good ideas” with me being delivered in a phrase such as “you should make a ___ it would really sell well.” My motivation is humbler than a monetary motivation. I hope to be a faithful and obedient servant to the work, as a co-creator with God, my Inspirer. I feel blessed to be able to combine my ministry with my work life. It has made me a happy and whole being, which I believe leads me to create better work. My aim is to just feed the lake, even though my contribution may just be a trickle. What matters is the lake, and we are all called to feed the lake using our own unique gifts with no required quantitative measure.
discerning what to make next…
There are many influences of what ideas actually get brought to fruition. Is that idea “speaking to me” at the time in some way or another? Do I have a unique voice for that concept? There is plenty of well-designed Christian jewelry out there already, so for me to add another fish to the table, I want to know that it will be fleshed out with a new voice before I give it my energy. Will there be something different spoken in the way I present it? People often have requests for me to make specific symbols. If that symbol holds no special meaning for me, I don’t have a voice for it. I heard a long time ago of a teacher advising his art students to “paint what you know”. If you live in Texas, don’t try to paint snow scenes. I am a Christian and my designs are a reflection of my own faith experience. That is what I know. I avoid the term “religious jewelry” as a description of what I do since that term should encompass symbols of many faiths. I call mine what it is, “Christian Symbol Jewelry”. Many times in my research of symbols, I will get to know an unfamiliar symbol and fall in love with it as I learn more about it and embrace it’s meaning. Sometimes that research may have an opposite effect. It may shed new light that will turn me off, as I learn of some negative connotations attached. But in the end, I will only give it life when I know it well enough to give it a voice, with something new to say.
confliction to conviction…
You may notice that many of my recent designs began as a commission from a church. I have seen some jewelry companies making statements of conviction and assurance that you will not see “your design” being sold elsewhere. While that seems honorable, here is my statement on the subject. If I created a piece especially for you or your group, it is “my design for your use”. Better yet, it is really not wholly “my design”; it belongs to the ultimate Creator for His glory. I was faced with this confliction one day in my studio when a visiting customer noticed all the crosses I was working on and wanted to purchase one. I choked as I thought to myself, “How can I tell this woman she cannot have this cross that speaks to her also?” I really didn’t answer that day as there were numerous church members’ orders in front of her and I knew it may be months before I had one to spare for her to buy. That gave me time to come to terms with my confliction, which eventually lead to my own statement of conviction. I will not create exclusive designs. That is not the statement of faith I want to make. Our faith is meant to be shared and we do not belong to an exclusive club. Once again, it is not about money, it is about feeding the lake. That struggle with confliction led me to better discern the projects I will currently accept.
share the love…
It is my belief we best share our faith by actions of love and in conversations of love, using Jesus Christ as our perfect model of living life in love. I hope my symbol jewelry may serve the wearer as a daily personal reminder of where we are to center our lives and as a tool to open doors, offering opportunities to share their own love story of faith with others.
In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. 1 Peter 3:15
(click each image to link to my website for design details and purchase information)