Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ars Gratia Artis... Art Is the Reward of Art

While perusing Craigslist a while back I came upon this carved wooden unicorn crest for $25.  It is a bit over 3ft x 3ft. I was going to keep it as-is to hang over the entrance to the Library but it was a bit depressing.  The wood had been stained and portions were painted but it looked dated.  The gentleman I bought it from said it came from the home of a gentleman who belonged to the Personal Prelature of the Catholic Church, Opus Dei, which translates to "the work of God".
 Click on the link to learn more.

After looking for inspiration online I came a cross this painted crest and fell in love!

Canadian Royal Coat of Arms

17th Century Coat of Arms from Christie's, in polychrome.  Look at that patina!

Another polychrome Coat of Arms from Christie's.

Another from Christie's

I contacted Mona, of Providence Ltd.Design blog and asked for her opinion.  She graciously responded promptly with advice to go ahead and paint the crest.  If you haven't met Mona, please click on the link.  She is beautiful inside and out! She is someone whose work I admire greatly.
This photo does not do the piece justice.  The body of the crest is painted with Annie Sloan French Linen, the details are Annie Sloan Old White and a burgundy craft paint I had left from another project.   I used Rub N' Buff Gold for the horns and Annie Sloan Clear and Dark Wax over the whole piece.  Before I applied the glaze I sanded the piece thoroughly.  The object was not to duplicate the inspiration pieces but to give it a similar quality.
What do you think?  I will be hanging this over the entrance to the library once the rooms are painted. The library is off the front entry, whose ceilings are 18ft. tall.  A lot of space to fill...or leave empty!  I prefer to fill it!

For fun here are the many incarnations of this piece.  I'm probably not done with it yet, either!

Before and After

I decided to inscribe the ribbon with the phrase, "ars gratia artis", which is Latin for "art is the reward of art".  Seems fitting, no?

This project took three hours from beginning to end.  I know I sound like an Annie Sloan sycophant but this paint really is all they claim it to be!

Thanks for stopping by!  Have you found any good bargains lately? I'd love to hear about them!



  1. Your painted crest looks wonderful Andie and Mona is the best! I still haven't had time to check out craigslist and really need to.

    Because of you and your absolutely stunning fireplace I spent half the day yesterday looking for stuff and ideas....you have to help!

  2. You've been very busy lately :-). Great project. Hope you will show us the final result once the crest is hanged above the library door.

  3. omg seriously -this looks 10000 times better. LOVE IT.

  4. Ms. D. You are amazing, the things you find on Craig's List and so reasonable and the insite you have in re-doing them is divine. I love crest and this one is so big and so beautiful and you have made it even more so. I just have to get there someday and see all your fun and exciting tresures. Richard and Sissy Dog, from My Old Historic House.

  5. what a steal and what a gem it became. loving the annie sloan posts and your how to's

  6. You and your finds, Andie! This is a great redo--it will look perfect in your home.

  7. What a deal!! It is gorgeous...I have always loved crests and coat of arms...hummmm does this mean I was royal in a past life? LOL...can I just tell you Ava Maria is one of my MOST FAVORITE SONGS IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!!!!!!!! Great choice. I am amazed at the steals and deals people find on Craigs list. Beautiful find....have a great evening.

  8. You do such good work! It really came out beautiful. I've been so busy here we are rearranging my studio and I'm looking thru all my supplies and i'm getting rid of so much of them. Have to make room for my antique store treasures! If you want to email me a picture of your kitty I'll see if I can make one to look like him (her).

  9. Andie, your crest is fantastic. I think you did a great job. I saw your email and had a different expectation. I have no idea what you think it's lacking. Am I missing something?

  10. You lucky girl! To have found this crest for $25 dollars on Craig's List.
    It is beautiful. I saw a huge lion and unicorn crest for sale in the Old Town Orange circle in California, the antique district for $2,500...I wanted it so badly! But where would I put something that huge! I would need a castle.
    It is nice to meet you...I came via Castles, Crowns, and Cottages.
    I love what you have been doing with your refinishing furniture projects...absolutely stunning~
    Your house reminds me of a similar one some friends of used to own in the city of Rocklin, CA.
    Your style is vibrant and luxurious~
    Teresa in California

  11. Good Evening, What year is this Coat Of Arms Crest from. Thank You from Texas


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