My Shield

Some things in life are just pure joyful fun.  Making a shield for myself has been one of those adventures.  Or maybe, I should more accurately say, having a shield made for me.

Before the heraldry folks get up in arms (pun intended,) this isn’t any attempt at “real” heraldry – I just wanted a personal statement symbol that is beautiful to those who don’t understand the underlying message and meaningful to those who do – and that reflects my ancestry as well by the fact that it is a shield.  In other words, this could go on my tombstone and I would be happy.  It says “me.”  It’s my graphic signature.  I think of it as my own personal tattoo on paper.

I’ll be showing you in a couple of days the original purpose of the shield, but for now, let’s take a look at what a very talented graphic artist, Nick Buckingham, did for me.  I’m so excited!

Nick is a member of the Magna Carta Facebook group, which is how I found him.

Nick is known for making shields for people, so I dropped him a line and gave him a very odd list of items for my shield.  This is not normal heraldry.  Here’s my shopping list: turtle, eagle, labyrinth – and I sent him a link to a labyrinth site.  I also sent him a photo of my labyrinth so he could see why I want one, since it’s a bit of an odd request.


I also told Nick I liked purple, but wasn’t sure if he could use that successfully in a shield, especially with the very odd list I had just given him.

Just sit and think for a minute what you might expect from that list of ingredients.

Nick was very gracious, and a couple of days later, this is what I received as a first draft.

shield 1To say I was dumbstruck would be an understatement.  I love this – just love it.  I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t expect this.  It captures my spirit.  I never expected to love it this much!

But, being a woman, I had to play a bit and change my mind a couple of times.  It’s required isn’t it??  Poor Nick!

I asked Nick what it would look like in red.

shield 2

Nice, but I don’t think this is for me.  But it is striking, and I do like it.

Next, we discussed the blank area at the bottom of the shield border.  I suggested maybe we could add something DNAish there.  I sent him some double helix links.

We tried a DNA double-helix sword.  Some days I am a DNA warrior – and I have that warrior gene you know.

shield 3

Not bad, but I don’t think it adds anything and I think you wind up looking at the eagle’s feet asking “what is that thing anyway?”  I have a lot of good ideas when I quilt that just don’t quite work either.  I tell my friends, “the quilt will tell you what it wants” and I guess shields are the same way.

But wait…what about that DNA helix sword on the red shield?

shield 4

I kind of like that – better than on the purple shield anyway.  But I still like the purple shield better…I think.  It just feels more me.

We returned to the purple shield and added two more turtles to see if that would be pleasing.

shield 5

I like this, but now I think maybe those turtles are too much and visually distract from the eagle.  Plus we don’t want that eagle to reach out and grab one of the turtles.  Nick is probably getting very tired of me by now, but he’s far too much of a gentleman to say anything.  Has to be that Magna Carta or maybe Crusader blood in his veins!

Next, Nick inserted a couple of softer double helix strands in the borders.

shield 6

Hmmm…  I’m beginning to wonder if DNA works in contemporary heraldry.

I asked Nick to put the turtles back, but on top of the DNA strands.  Turtles climbing the double helix – that might be very interesting and symbolic.

shield 7

This too sounded like a good idea, but in reality, I think I liked the very first rendition best.  It truly was love at first sight!

If anything, I’m overwhelmed with several wonderful choices.  Nick is just so talented and I’m so grateful for his hard work and his patience!  You can really tell when someone is working in the element they are passionate about – because it shines through in the final product.

Do you think I could change my shield to go with my mood or the season maybe?  Now there’s an idea.  Can a woman have too many shields?

What do you think?  Which shield do you like best?

And before you ask, because I know you’re going to, here’s how to contact Nick.  He’s very kind and gracious, does this “on the side,” although it’s his passion.  Nick is probably overwhelmed with requests – and if he wasn’t before, he will be now…so be gentle.

Nick Buckingham’s e-mail:



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27 thoughts on “My Shield

  1. Well, I must say I like the eagle standing tall on the DNA sword on red. It’s lovely and truly warrior warm-hearted! For it to be really Roberta, I would think the DNA has to be in there and the sword and shield go together. Does the red seem to powerful? Don’t be shy about that. It’s a sort of soft red, tinged with blue.

  2. I love the DNA border with the turtles on it and think it should continue onto the top border, too. I like the purple color. The only thing I would change is the eagle. Maybe a front view with the wings outstretched would be more symbolic of the strength needed to break through some of those brick walls! Plus, it would get rid of the blank space you were worried about. Good luck on your final design and thanks for sharing this cool idea! Linda Wight

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Endless possibilities but beware of what the Internet will do. Several years ago when my sons were in their early teens I decided to create one with them to show them the principles of basic heraldry. Then, because it was fashion at the time, I created my own website and put the famous shield on it within the explanation of what the elements meant and saying it was for fun. What happened? You can easily guess. Some people copied this as being a true shield and I even had requests for the original picture. I had used a site at the time that provided already made pieces and allowed you to create a shield.

    Going back to your project I like the idea of the sword. I would turn the labyrinth around, make it a little smaller, and have sword pointing straight down towards its entrance. The eagle could then rest its feet on its handle as if it was pushing it down. I would try a light silver instead of sand to go with the purple. All for fun…

  4. You know I’m a big fan of purple, but I like the red shield with the black border. What about trying the purple shield with the black border and turtles? I think the helix arrow at the foot of the eagle would look good, then, too..

  5. This is funny. Before my husband and I got married I was thinking, ” I would like our own symbol, for us.(dare I say for Our Dynesty?)

    I can’t even spell. I like your idea. I am a quilter too and my advice is to sleep on it awhile. There is some essential that hasn’t surfaced yet in your mind, that will
    bring it all together.

  6. Somewhere in my engrams of learning do I remember that purple is symbolic of Royalty? As in, “born of the purple”? Your loving purple is obviously derived from dna of Royal heritage.

  7. I like Shield 7 Best The DNA spirals are a symbol of all the hard work you do to unravel family histories for yourself and your generous sharing of knowledge with others. 2nd best is #1
    Jean McDowell Ray

  8. Hi, Roberta, I like your idea of a personal shield. I definitely preferred the first rendition. I like purple better than red and think additional turtles at the bottom makes it too cluttered. I didn’t see any way the double helix would fit in. If I were to do any more experiments, it would be with the eagle–not that there is anything wrong with the existing one. Jim Bullock Littleton, Colorado

  9. Roberta, I actually like the last one! I was drawn to the double helix design, which popped out at me. They are ALL wonderful! My nephew made one for him and his dad when he was in high school and his dad had Naylor Builders. I love Heraldry! In all of it’s forms, so much so, that I bought a heraldry making software cd many moons ago. You have so many wonderful ideas!

    Cousin Cathee

  10. I think the original Shield in all it’s simplicity is for sure the best…. Enjoy your quest!!! SandyB

  11. I rather like the first one but the eagle needs something in his talons. Looking at the back of a dollar bill, you could use arrows and olive branches. You will reveal the theme in time but arrows & leaves aren’t a good fit. Maybe put him in a pedestal supported by DNA strands. I like the idea of a personal crest or shield. For my Tripp website, I went with a solid red crest with a gold Old English “T.” Someday I’d like a design that incorporates heraldic symbols and bric-a-brac. Suitable for a coffee mug!

  12. I like the last design the best, but agree with another’s suggestion that the eagle should be from a front view with wings outstretched. And it should be a bald eagle, black with a white head. Then I would prefer gold with the purple rather than that beige/brown. I really like the double helix border with the turtles.

  13. I agree with many of the others: Try purple and black, something different with the eagle’s pose–and the DNA double helix needs to be in there! (I rather like the sword…and the coffee cup idea!)

  14. Roberta, since time is not of the essence, why not do more exploration of options? You might want to glam it up. It should be very special for a very special lady.

    Please google:
    Achievement hatchments
    Funerary hatchments
    Medieval standard or Banner

  15. Regarding hatchments: You have shown us pics of the many ancestral churches in England you have visited, and many of them had beautiful hatchments. If you can see the detail and perhaps pick out a design feature/detail that you like from a hatchment, you could incorporate that into your new shield. This would lend a provenance (a detail from a hatchment from one of your ancestral churches) for your new shield.

    Thank you for allowing us to participate in the design of your shield.

  16. Wonder how the purple on black would look, or the red/hot pink and purple would lool? I would have a hard time choosing because I like both of the color equally

  17. Pingback: The Kings and I | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

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