20 Mar Amen-ogram!
Written by: Laura Nell Burton
Photography by: Christin Gish
Totally-darling-in-every-single-way Reese Witherspoon says it best “My rule is if it’s not moving—monogram it.” I concur, Reese, and bless your sweet, Southern heart!
Gracing our front entry is a hand-engraved keystone bearing the Burton family monogram. I designed it to remind us that this house is not really ours. North and south facing arrows represent Job 1:21 “the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
Our monogram began as a detailed sketch, which I gradually refined and eventually had digitized.
I commissioned an assortment of digitized sizes and stitch pattern options, and stored the files on a zip drive, ready for various monogrammers, depending on the project. It now appears throughout our home on doorknobs, stationary, in appliqué or as a monogram on linens, and future family heirlooms embroidered by hand.
As the daughter of a textiles artist, my mother taught me the art of hand embroidery when I was a little girl. For our monogram, utilizing a special cutter, I created stencils to trace onto textile.
I use wooden embroidery hoops and delightful thread, made by DMC, a company founded in 1746 in Mulhouse, France (widely available all over the world). DMC manufactures embroidery floss that is colorfast, fade resistant, and 100% cotton. To learn more, visit their website, including wonderful tutorials.
There are extraordinary resources available which create bespoke monograms or you can select from a wide variety of lovely existing styles. Some of my favorites are Leontine Linens, Julian Mejia, and Halo Home. I also love the one-of-a-kind hand embroidered treasures created by Hibiscus Linens and Happy Cactus Designs.
We’ve also had such fun incorporating our family monogram into wearables including boots and Dos Carolinas guayaberas.
Now for some monogram history…the letters P X were Christ’s monogram from the very beginning of Christianity. The concept of monogramming is also embedded in Egyptian hieroglyphics, while early Greek and Roman rulers used monograms to identify currency. It was during the Middle Ages when the concept of adding monograms to architecture took off. There was hardly a castle or abbey, private dwelling or public edifice unmarked by the monogram of its founder or lord. Eventually it became common to mark the valuable property of nobility with a monogram, emblazoned on a variety of items from weaponry and armor to household items, royal banners and coats of arms. For more information, the Brooklyn Museum published a wonderful article: About Monograms.
Fast forward to 2017, here are some Cloche favorites:
Louis Vuitton’s son Georges was the monogram creator of the now-famous LV logo, developed as a way to prevent counterfeiting of the Parisian company’s designer luggage.
Known for “the little black dress”, perfume No. 5 de Chanel, and the Chanel Suit, the interlocking Cs are a global symbol of elegance and wealth. Beginning in 1918, Coco Chanel revolutionized the fashion industry for women by shortening dresses, loosening corsets, cutting her hair and bronzing her skin. But before liberating women she had to liberate herself. Once a little farm girl, orphaned by her mother and abandoned by her father, she overcame all odds and became an international style icon. Learn more about the captivating and inspiring life of Coco Chanel in 18 artfully, emotion-invoking narrations of the history of this beautiful brand on their website.
Established in 1837, Hermès created their caléche logo and starting utilizing the iconic orange boxes in the 1950s. P.S. Collect the boxes, as they look fabulous in your bookshelves!
According to Williams-Sonoma’s marvelous lifestyle brand Mark and Graham: “A monogram tells a story. It suggests who we are or want to be, puts forth our views on marriage, tradition, and individual identity not to mention the wonderful things it does for linens, stationery and silverware.”