My arms design, for comments

 
steven harris
 
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steven harris
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29 July 2010 22:24
 

After nearly 2½ years of mindfully work and patient collaborations, I am nearing a final design of my own arms.  If it please the forum, I would like to solicit your feedback on the design (ultimately, the decision is mine, but I’d value your learned impressions and critical comments):

Arms:

Argent within a Bordure quarterly Azure and Gules three Annulets interlaced two over one Sable debruised at honour point by an Escutcheon of the last charged with a Chevron rompu Or

http://a.imageshack.us/img441/4305/saharris8c.png

 

Crest:

Issuant from a wreath of fig leaves (Ficus religiosa) a Bobcat (Lynx rufus) sejant gorged with a scarf of the MacLeod of Harris clan tartan and in her dexter paw a single apple blossom (Malus domestica) all proper

 

Motto (Below the Arms):

To Thine Own Self Be True

 

Slogan (Above the Crest):

Veritas Honorque

 

Badge:

An octagon Sable charged with three Annulets interlaced as in the arms within an Orle Argent

http://a.imageshack.us/img541/7056/badge112px.png

 

 

Symbolism (as briefly as I can)

The principle charge is three interlaced rings, used as a Christian symbol of the Most Holy Trinity since the Middle Ages, originated from the family arms of Saint Charles Cardinal Borromeo, Archbishop of Milan, the namesake of the my prep school that I attended 1993-1997.  Being rendered here as black on white, they also suggest the ensō from Japanese shodō calligraphy which is commonly found in Zen Buddhism and in the Aikidō martial art form, in both of which I am a student.  Borromean rings also have implications in my career field of biochemistry.

 

The canton on the arms of the Virginia Military Institute, where I studied chemistry and English literature 1997-2001, is black with a broken gold chevron in honor of the ten cadets who were killed at the Battle of New Market on May 15th, 1864 under the command of Confederate Major-General John C. Breckinridge.  I placed this augmentation on an escutcheon appropriately borne at honour point in honor of these fallen cadets.

http://www.vmi.edu/assets/0/430/899/c9b98e3c-9ea8-42fe-af2c-f66632ead9d5.jpg

 

The bordure is an allusion to my Scottish ancestry from the Isle of Harris (hence my surname) in the Outer Hebrides – in the lands of the Clan MacLeod, whose kilt I have been known to wear on occasion.  The bordure is inspired by the arms of the Chief:

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/67/Arms_of_Macleod_of_Macleod.svg/200px-Arms_of_Macleod_of_Macleod.svg.png

 

Atop the helm is a wreath of sacred fig tree leaves, under which Siddhārtha Gautama attained enlightenment as Buddha.  The wreath of leaves also alludes to my given name, Steven, which comes from the Greek Στέφανος, meaning “crowned with a wreath”.  Rising out of the wreath is a bobcat, which has served as a mascot-of-sorts for the learned sciences since the Early Renaissance period.  In Arthurian legend, a red lynx has been attributed to Sir Lucan, Chamberlain of Camelot and King Arthur’s most learned knight; the bobcat’s scientific name is Latin for red lynx (Schreber 1777).  Reminiscent of the Buddha’s Flower Sermon, the bobcat holds aloft a single blossom.  The apple blossom is borrowed from the mon of Zenshinkan Aikidō Dōjō, where I study Japanese martial, spiritual and cultural arts.

 

My motto is “To Thine Own Self Be True”, spoken by Polonius in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet (Act I, scene 3).  My slogan is “Veritas Honorque” – “Truth and Honor” in Latin, a language that I began to study in prep school and have continued till today.

 

The octagonal badge is intentionally rendered in the style of a Japanese mon; again, borrowed from the mon of of my Dōjō.

 

 

When my design is finally finalized, I’d like to have it rendered in a “Scottish” style.  Also important to me (although difficult to explain) is that, even though I have no real expectation of submitting my arms to the Lord Lyon or to the College of Arms, I would like the arms to be of a design that the authorities theoretically could approve – if that makes any sense.

 
J. Stolarz
 
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J. Stolarz
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29 July 2010 22:45
 

My first impression is that it looks too logoistic to me.  Also it seems like there’s too many colors going on, which is probably adding to why it looks too logoistic to me.  I would say that you should keep a max of three colors, and I’ve found that it tends to be even better to shoot for only using two colors.

 
Kenneth Mansfield
 
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Kenneth Mansfield
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29 July 2010 23:34
 

AILD;78026 wrote:

I would say that you should keep a max of three colors, and I’ve found that it tends to be even better to shoot for only using two colors.


Poppycosh. It really depends on the design. There are beautiful many-colored shields and there are dreadful two-color designs.

 
 
J. Stolarz
 
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J. Stolarz
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29 July 2010 23:45
 

I was saying in general wink.  I’m midly color blind, so I tend to find highly contrasting colors more appealing to my eye.  You’re just bitter because you have three colors in your coat of arms hehe.

 
Donnchadh
 
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Donnchadh
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30 July 2010 00:29
 

at the risk of violating the AHS design rules, please advise me if i am, i would say that i prefer the one color one metal model more often than not, though not universally when i design a client’s achievement. i also prefer to limit the amount of charges i place on a shield or in a crest, again, usually.

in this case, and please know i mean no disrespect, my eye moves around in such a helter skelter (sp?) manner that i am forced to turn my eye from it. further, the color scheme in this piece does not compliment in any manner that is clear. that’s to sat it appears eclectic in a non-complimentary manner.

 

remember that colors have meanings…no not the garbage you can read on a websit…but in color theory. and your eyes will register if something is appealing or not. this is a general, usually universal, concept. and in this piece’s current composition it is not "easy" on the eye. having a coat of arms with so much on it and not relating to the other…other than what they mean to you…is not good imo.

 

this is all only my opinion and to be honest Steven that doesn’t mean a whole lot. in the end you are the one who has to live with your achievement and so in the end it will have to satisfy you. i only offer my advice because you asked. please know i mean/meant no disrespect at all.

 
steven harris
 
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steven harris
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30 July 2010 08:27
 

No disrespect is taken.  Since I only have the one set of eyes, I’d like to know how others see my design before I settle on it.

If you think this one is bad - you should have been around a couple of years ago for my first few attempts wink

 

Joking aside for the moment, I think that I like this one.  Refridgerator test is in progress…

 
Benjamin Thornton
 
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Benjamin Thornton
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30 July 2010 08:51
 

I wasn’t around for the earlier design process, but I did see the latest shortlist over at the IAAH forum.  This may be late in the game for such a suggestion (and it may be that this option has already been considered and discounted), but what about:

Quarterly Azure and Gules, three annulets interlaced two over one Argent.

 

None of the symbolism would necessarily be affected, and I think the result would be a little more cohesive.  Just my opinion, of course.

 

And on the subject of opinions, I too dislike the escutcheon, for purely aesthetic reasons.  I find it entirely distracting.  What about moving it to the crest - having the bobcat holding an escutcheon, perhaps?

 
Patrick Williams
 
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Patrick Williams
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30 July 2010 08:53
 

Steve, I’ve sent you a private message as it’s my opinion that this discussion belongs in the member area, not the public fora.

 
Kenneth Mansfield
 
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Kenneth Mansfield
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30 July 2010 08:53
 

I was going to suggest the same thing, Ben, but wasn’t sure what to do with the escutcheon. Steven, see IAAH thread for more…. wink

 
 
Patrick Williams
 
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Patrick Williams
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30 July 2010 08:59
 

FORMER MODERATOR’S WARNING

Guys, we’re getting very, very close to breaking the rules here, if we haven’t already smashed them into tiny pieces. Design advice belongs in the members’ area, NOT the public fora. As much as I love to read and participate in the discussion of design, this is not the place to do it. Steve needs to join the club and then we can discuss this in the appropriate arena. I have sent some ideas to Steve by instant message, as that is all that is appropriate at this juncture.

 
Michael F. McCartney
 
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Michael F. McCartney
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30 July 2010 21:03
 

Hopefully not too closely tied to this particular design problem, (e.g. too busy or not etc.) but as more of a general observation re: appropriate charges —

IMO the inclusion of a specific design feature previously used to refer to particular historical persons, implies or is likely to be perceived as implying, some close personal or family connection to those historical individuals.  If one of those individuals was an ancestor, great; if not, I would question its use in personal or family arms, at least on the shield itself.

 

Not IMO a problem re: emblems ascribed to e.g. saints, where the particular emblem or charge has been used so often in many ways by many people, perhaps as a canting charge, as to be generic (e.g. the saltires on my border, referring inter alia to my great-great grandpa Andrew - but equally valid as a generic indicator of Scottishness; or Denny’s shamrock, originally a ref to St Patrick but now (also) a generic reference to Irishness).

 

But IMO not where the emblem was designed as a reference to a defined group of more recent persons and has not been so widely used as to become generic.

 

My thoughts only, others may & likely do differ.

 
Jay Bohn
 
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Jay Bohn
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31 July 2010 07:21
 

Michael F. McCartney;78056 wrote:

Hopefully not too closely tied to this particular design problem, (e.g. too busy or not etc.) but as more of a general observation re: appropriate charges—

IMO the inclusion of a specific design feature previously used to refer to particular historical persons, implies or is likely to be perceived as implying, some close personal or family connection to those historical individuals. If one of those individuals was an ancestor, great; if not, I would question its use in personal or family arms, at least on the shield itself.

 

Not IMO a problem re: emblems ascribed to e.g. saints, where the particular emblem or charge has been used so often in many ways by many people, perhaps as a canting charge, as to be generic (e.g. the saltires on my border, referring inter alia to my great-great grandpa Andrew - but equally valid as a generic indicator of Scottishness; or Denny’s shamrock, originally a ref to St Patrick but now (also) a generic reference to Irishness).

 

But IMO not where the emblem was designed as a reference to a defined group of more recent persons and has not been so widely used as to become generic.

 

My thoughts only, others may & likely do differ.


I agree. I don’t think it would be appropriate to "honor" George Washington by including his arms in one’s own or to express admiration for Queen Elizabeth II by ensigning one’s arms with her royal crown. Personal heraldry just isn’t the appropriate vehicle for such statements; it just doesn’t speak that way.

 

Taking a distinctive part of the arms of another and incorporating it into one’s own could (and is probably a question of degree rather than of kind) be a kind of usurpation.

 

In this case it appears that VMI chose to add this element to its arms to honor its fallen "sons." Would it have been appropriate for the descendants (presumably collateral) of those men to have incorporated such a charge in their own arms? I tend to think not (just as descendants of those awarded the Medal of Honor do not get a hereditary augmentation). How then is it appropriate for someone who is not a descendent to do so?

 
Joseph McMillan
 
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Joseph McMillan
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31 July 2010 09:56
 

But it might be appropriate, in developing new arms, for the descendants of cadets who fought at New Market to take elements of the canton not as an augmentation to their own arms but as basic design elements. For example, to use a chevron rompu in some other colors as an organizing principle of the arms, or some other kind of chevron in the same colors, or perhaps to have a chief with pellets or lozenges each charged with a chevron rompu.

I keep trying to figure out a way to do that in this case but can’t come up with a graphically pleasing way to reconcile the basic design with the chevron rompu.

 
Patrick Williams
 
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Patrick Williams
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31 July 2010 10:28
 

Precisely, gentlemen, precisely. I communicated privately that the ‘honor point’ is not a place to honor others, but a place to display honors granted to oneself by a fons honorum (especially in an escutcheon!).

Should an armiger really be driven to honor someone else in their arms (unless we’re talking ‘clan arms’ as in Scotland) the armiger really needs to think hard about whether adopting personal arms is really what he wants to do. After all, arms are about the armiger (and/or the armiger’s ancestors). Indeed, I agree that taking something from Washington’s arms (as an example) to ‘honor him’ is not only inappropriate but probably insulting to Washington’s real ancestors (if he has any).

 
Kenneth Mansfield
 
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31 July 2010 11:10
 

Ways of incorporating the chevron rompu into the main arms were discussed at great length in the design threads on the IAAH forum. I suspect that Steven’s not being satisfied with any of those is what has finally led to the escutcheon.

 
 
Patrick Williams
 
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Patrick Williams
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31 July 2010 11:40
 

And since we mentioned it:

 

http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g29/PaddyW_photos/fonzhon3.jpg

 

The Fonz Honorum