Hand Crosses As Prayer Tools

I make these hand held crosses with polymer clay and shape to fit the hand. They may be used as a tactile focusing tool for personal prayer and meditation.

Nancy Denmark's polymer clay hand crosses

Polymer Clay Hand Crosses For Prayer & Comfort

A local ministry recently ordered 50 hand crosses to be included in comfort kits for cancer patients. Working as a prayer is inevitable as I work on an order like this. Even though I was pushing an overdue deadline, while preparing for large shows at the same time, the power of the end use of these hand crosses, slowed me down to form each cross with an intention of prayer.

“There are some people who, in order to pray, use as an excuse the fact that life is so hectic that it prevents them from praying. This cannot be. Prayer does not demand that we interrupt our work, but that we continue working as if it were a prayer.”  – Mother Teresa

Dear Lord, help me to always fill my work with you, with focused intention, in continual dialog with you.

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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

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.

From The Other Side

Fall shows merged into Christmas and Christmas merged into prep for 2 big church conventions in February. Now I write from the other side of this run. I have committed myself to making website improvements this year, especially to the galleries featuring my Christian symbol jewelry. Today marks one week after my last big show and I am happy to report the website is already seeing many improvements as I rephotograph most all of my silver symbol jewelry. Stay tuned as I share this body of work in a new light.

To view the web gallery click the image below.

Christian Symbol Jewelry

Web gallery snapshot of my "From The Heart Line" Christian Symbol Jewelry