Other signets

Signets are loosely based on "tribal" tattoo-like designs and can be stitched on any color cloth using any color thread.

Medallion snakes: Tenne and Or

This past summer, I was invited by the Kansas Herpetological Society to put on a mini art show at our annual meeting in November. The society is devoted to the scientific study of reptiles and amphibians, so I thought it might be nice to include some designs in the new ‘signet’ series. I was playing around with different ideas for how to do snakes and struck on the concept of using ‘medallions’, a series of circles containing different patterns inside. The ‘medallions’ I came up with are totally creations from the often jumbled depths of my mind and have no meaning beyond their aesthetic appeal.

These first two designs are named for heraldic colors. In medieval times, heraldic devices were used to identify people and all the colors, motifs, and their positions in the design had meaning. ‘Tenné’, the name of the first snake, is a tawny orange color and can mean “meek”, while ‘Or’ is metallic gold and can mean “generous”.

Size = 5” x 9” (14 ct.)

Medallion snakes: Sanguine and Vert

This is the second pair of ‘medallions’, snakes made by stringing together a number of circular designs. As I mentioned on the first of these patterns, the circles are totally creations from the often jumbled depths of my mind and have no meaning beyond their aesthetic appeal.

In keeping with the heraldic color theme, I’ve called these ‘Sanguine’ and ‘Vert’. ‘Sanguine’ is a dark, blood red color and, in heraldry, and can stand for “blood-thirsty”. ‘Vert’ is a green color and can stand for “hope, joy, and wisdom”.

Size of Sanguine = 5” x 10” (14 ct.)

Size of Vert = 5” x 9” (14 ct.)

Medallion snakes: Fire and Water

Size of Sanguine = 5” x 13” (14 ct.)

This is a pair of the medallion style snake patterns that are a bit larger than the originals. They also have the Kanji symbol for “Fire” and “Water” in the medallion just behind each head. The “Fire” design is red, like embers and coils as flames sometimes do when leaping up into the sky. “Water”, on the other hand, flows sinuously back and forth as water flows down a stream.


This mask is shaped like some of the moths from the genus Antheraea. These are large moths, many of which have eyespots on the wings. They are not as colorful as other moths of the family Saturniidae to which they belong, but their caterpillars form cocoons of silk that are collected from the wild to produce a type of silk called “tussah” that is rougher than the silk collected from domesticated species of silk moths. The North American Polyphemus moth belongs to the genus Antheraea. The Polyphemus moth has a 6 inch wingspan and is a tannish brown color with large eyespots on the hindwings. Their caterpillars feed on a variety of tree species.

Size = 12“ x 5.5“ (16 ct.)


This design was an experiment in mask making. I’ve always enjoyed the highly decorated half masks of the Mardi Gras celebrations that I attended when working on my Master’s degree in Louisiana. I can’t wear them, because of my glasses, so I decided to make some in a different way. The “official” name of the half mask is ‘colombina’. They were originally worn by characters of the Commedia dell'arte, a type of theatre performance popular in 14th – 17th century Italy. This kind of mask is worn by Carnival goers the world over and has been popular for centuries.

Size = 10.5“ x 5.5“ (16 ct.)

A New Idea

I’ve been toying with the idea of a series of signet butterflies for some time now. This is the first, and largest, of the lot. It is basically the wing patterns of a butterfly without the rest of the insect’s body. This particular one is the common tree nymph (Idea stolli), a fairly common species in the rainforests and cloud forests of SE Asia. It is a large butterfly with a wingspan of almost seven inches. Females are larger than males. The natural markings are black against white or pale gray wings and body, so I have obviously taken some artistic license with the color. They are slow fliers, which make them relatively easy to photograph. This odd behavior (along with their striking coloration) helps to advertise that they are toxic to predators. Their caterpillars feed on plants of the genus Agonosma, from which they acquire toxins that protect them throughout their lives. Butterflies of this genus are sometimes seen in butterfly zoos.

Size = 14” x 7” (14 ct.)


Size = 9.5“ x 12“ (14 ct.)

This design came about as I was toying with ideas of combining my signet dragons and the medallions. It started out as a square, like a chess board. So, I decided to give it a chess term as a name. Chess is a very old two-player strategy game with many varieties all over the world. I learned to play as a child when my older brother started beating our farther and my brother needed another opponent. I ended up teaching my younger brother and we have all been teaching and playing with their children. The game tends to pass through families in this way. Now, it can be played against computers, but is far more fun with a living opponent. “Checkmate” is what you say when you’ve trapped your opponent’s king and won the game.

Queen's Gambit

This design is the result of a challenge posed by my friend Beth, who one day declared that I needed to do a chess set. Trying to come up with something that had enough detail, but wasn’t too big was tough, but I’m pleased with the result, even if I did have to stitch it in 18 count. In keeping with my fantasy proclivities, I used dragons for the king and queen, firebirds (or phoenixes) for the bishops, unicorns for the knights, labyrinths for the castles, and kitsune (or werewolves) for the pawns.

The arrangement of the pieces in the larger model shows one of the many variations of a strategy called “The Queen’s Gambit”. You may, of course, stitch the pieces to illustrate your own favorite moves.

Size = 14“ x 14“ (14 ct.)