Constructing a Family Crest

This semester I’m teaching fourth graders art for our local homeschool co-op, and totally in over my head, but that’s beside the point. The theme of the course is two-dimensional art inspired by art in history and I took a fundamentals of art and design class for my photography minor in, uh, maybe 2006, so yeaaaaaah, obviously I’ve got this.

Anyway, and fortunately for the kids, most of the assignments are inherited from past teachers. (We might survive after all.)

The kids’ first assignment is to design a personal crest using the symbols of heraldry and also lots of colored markers, and this has sent me down an Internet rabbit hole of beautiful modern family crests which will be absolutely no help to my students, but does tie into my abiding interest in building a family culture.

The closest we have to a family crest is the lovely screen print my sister made us as a wedding present.


Can you tell I cleaned up the mantle special for you? J/K I snapped this picture when I was supposed to already be out in the driveway. Oops.

Some people specialize in creating family crests, and their work is just lovely. I’m partial to the floral ones, but I also especially like the ones that feature the material objects that a family considers definitive for them.


Off the top of my head, for us, that would be: books, bacon, bikes. Catholicism. Scary math symbols? (That’s just J.) “The Owl and the Pussy Cat” was a poem we used a lot in our wedding planning, and those guys often figure into our doodles for each other, though my owl infuriatingly always looks like a penguin. We also used a lot of tandem bicycles in our wedding stuff, and now we have one on out mantle (see above). And now we have the added family symbols of a peregrine feather for Pippin (Thomas Joseph Peregrine) and a mockingbird feather for Scout.

Here is my nap time doodle.

Those are a cat (with glasses) and an owl. Not that it’s not super obvious. (Look, I’m much better at drawing dancing pizza.)
What would feature in your family crest?


2 thoughts on “Constructing a Family Crest

  1. I LOVE this so so much! In fact, this post almost makes me want to reroute my small business into modern Catholic crest making (and then I remember how much custom work stresses me out).

    Joe has talked about/sketched out family crest ideas before, but I’m blanking on what he had come up with. I really love the idea of involving traditional Christian symbolism in our children’s names, particularly influenced by medieval bestiaries and flowers/herbs that are tied to different legends. So, those would obviously be on ours. Plus our last name, Ramos, comes from the Spanish word, branch, but it’s also the word they use for palm (Palm Sunday–Domingo de Ramos) so that would definitely have to figure in there.

    Also, unrelated to crests but related to family culture–I love that you have a name for your home! Even though we’re in an apartment I feel like we need to name it. We also need to get our apartment blessed and I think a house blessing would be a pretty fitting opportunity to officially name the place.

    P.S. Happy Menocal’s crests are to die for!


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