We would love you to meet our shield artist, David Barker. He has been a specialist in heraldic art for well over four decades! His wealth of expertise comes from years of practice. If you have ever wondered how we create our shields, this article explains how we first met our shield artist David. Plus, you will discover how he creates each unique coat of arms to order. You will get to know a bit more about the man behind the beautiful work. Also how your chosen coat of arms is painstakingly recreated in specialist enamel paint.
Where did we come across such a specialist?
You never know who you will meet and when! We first met our shield artist David at an air show in Croydon almost 15 years ago. Hall of Names Director Peter Horsler remembers “He pulled up to our exhibition trailer on a push bike, and we got chatting. It turned out that David’s skills and expertise in heraldic painting. This is exactly what we were after, and we have been working with him ever since”. In fact, David has become an integral part of the Hall of Names business. His work was an immediate hit with customers. Peter continues “we get customers coming back to us year after year to purchase the shields as special occasion gifts”
What is the process?
David explains how he completes work on the wooden shields: “When I first receive the customer’s commission, I select their chosen style. This is down to personal taste, and I have light oak or hardwood styles available in a variety of sizes. Customers often choose a double oak or double hardwood shield as a special gift for a wedding or anniversary. These lovely works of art display two coats of arms side by side, relating to the surname of each member of the couple”.
For these types of coat of arms, David uses pre-embossed copper templates. He then paints the customer’s chosen heraldry onto the template. It is painstaking work, and so each commission can take 4-6 weeks to complete. “Of course, each coat of arms is different so no two designs are the same. All of the the heraldic symbols are familiar to me, and I work with care and attention to detail. Each of the heraldic elements is faithfully reproduced. The enamel paint I use is of very high quality and needs time to set properly. If I rush to package the artwork, it can result in smudged paintwork. That would obviously be a disaster, so patience is the key!
Secondly, I include the surname at the top of the shield. Also I include any associated motto, in a scroll-style banner along the base. Finally, the painted copper is carefully mounted onto the backing to create a beautiful family shield. This can be displayed at home for family and friends to admire for years to come.”
Bespoke coats of arms
In addition to these shields, David also creates stunning bespoke coats of arms which can be given an antique finish. Our shield artist paints these directly onto a metal backing. These are really stunning and therefore create a family talking point.
“I make each piece from tempered steel and hand-paint the heraldry with my enamel paints. An optional ‘antique’ effect gives the finished item an appearance of being more than 200 years old. Customers all have very specific requirements, and because of this, I take my time. Gladly, feedback is always good and I’ve had some really lovely comments over the years.”
The hand carved shields that David creates really are a fantastic addition to any home. The process that he uses is slightly different from the mounted copper techniques mentioned above. First of all, we identify the heraldry required by searching for the name in our coat of arms database. David then sketches out a design, based on the fundamental elements of the artwork. He then fret-cuts the design from wood. Following on from this, David paints the artwork in colours which are true to heraldic standards. When dry, the whole piece is mounted onto its backing. A truly superb piece of heraldic art which adds real spectacle to any home.
We love having David as our shield artist. He is a significant and integral part of our team and undeniably the best person to make a shield for you. If you would like to discuss your personal requirements, please give us a call on 01984 632120. We’d love to help! Click on the links in this article to have a look at the selection available, or view the entire selection on our page here. If you would like to discover more about the symbolism in coats of arms, click here to see our free online dictionary. Plus we have lots more information about heraldry in the special heraldry section of our blog – click here to read.
Do we have your surname on our database? Click here to check if we have the coat of arms and surname history available for the surname of your choice.