Friday, January 27, 2012

The Murphy Crest

In my efforts to make handmade Christmas gifts for those I love, I came to a stumbling block in the form of my dad. What does one embroider for a guy? I put on my thinking cap and eventually decided I would make him a framed embroidery of our family crest.

Having the most common Irish surname is sometimes annoying (especially having to attend high school with someone who had my exact same name), but the upside is that there's no shortage of Murphy family crest paraphernalia on the interwebs. I did a little searching, but couldn't find just one crest I really liked. Some were too cartoony. Some looked too medieval. Some looked like they were done in MS paint. So, I ended up merging the designs of my three favorites and doing a bit of drawing by hand.

It took a few weeks of embroidering on the train and every evening when I got home, made complicated by the fact that my dad and I sometimes ride the train home from work together and I couldn't get any work done on it in his presence. But I was eventually able to finish:


Once again, outline stitches were just not going to work. The little lions were too detailed. So, I used about a million stitches to fill it all in. After my first attempt, I ended up redoing tops of the sheafs with some tight herringbone stitches (look at me, using fancy stitch names!) and I like the effect. I used regular quilter's cotton for the fabric. It pulled a little bit, which you can see towards the top, but I find it much easier to work with than linen. The top of the crest is a little wonky, and I don't like the font of the motto that much, but I was pretty happy with the way it turned out and I think my dad liked it.

I bought a nice 8 x 10 frame (which also happened to be on sale!) and ended up getting a red mat to showcase the embroidery a bit better. Here's the finished product:

I'm not sure how the Murphys ended up with the motto "brave and hospitable," but as far as mottos go, I suppose it's not so bad! I should also note that there's another Murphy crest featuring an apple tree and the motto "vincere vel mori" ("victory or death" -- yikes!), but that's supposed to be from a different clan. It's hard to know for sure which clan my ancestors actually came from, but the apple-tree clan is supposed to be much smaller. The lion/wheat crest is the one most Murphys affiliate themselves with and can be traced back to the area where I know some of my ancestors actually lived. It's also the one my cousin got a tattoo of, so if it's not the right one -- oops!

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