Thursday, January 22, 2009

How something I always wanted became my new shop logo!

Have you ever read a book and become entranced with an object one of the characters possesses? I read a book called Taipan many years ago. The story was set in Hong Kong and it chronicled the life of the head of a major trading company there.  In one of the scenes he is sitting at his desk, about to sign an important letter. He reaches over to a case and pulls out something called a 'chop', which is slang for a Chinese character official seal. I can't remember, but I'm sure the seal was an intricate carving of jade or some other precious stone and it was pressed into a special red seal wax and then affixed to the letter. I'm not exactly sure why that object caught my imagination...I immediately lusted for one, knowing full well that it was something I most likely never would have the need for. 

Then, just three weeks 
before this past Christmas, I was perusing the National Geographic catalog of hand made artisan products from around the world and what did I see before my saucer shaped eyes???

 Yes! A chinese seal... carved in the shape of a dragon, in a brocade box with yet another embossed dragon, that came with an additional dragon motif delft blue porcelain seal jar! Then I read the description which said that Chinese artisans would carve YOUR NAME in the seal!!!

Wow, I could have Nine Dragons put on it, use it to sign my business letters and, even better, incorporate it into a logo!

I let out such a loud whoop that my husband came running lol. Next thing you know the dear man tells me to order it as his Christmas present to me :) :) :)

The reason I didn't write about all of this at Christmas is because the order got messed up. It did not arrive until the day after Christmas (though I'd been assured it would come in time) and instead of having the characters for Nine Dragons it had 4 to represent 'ni', one to represent 'ne' and I never did find out what the other two stood for. (if you put together ni and get 'nine'...not exactly what I had in mind). Understandably, we were both very disappointed, I had very carefully explained what I wanted. 

But I must say that National Geographic stands behind their handmade products. Phone calls were made directly to China, I was told I did not need to return anything and was reimbursed for my shipping and a rush was put out for a new seal with the correct symbols. I was informed that my order was shipped from China on the 12th and I had it on the 20th...absolutely the way I wanted it. 

The symbol you are looking at is simplified Chinese character based. Traditional Chinese has the same symbol for the number nine, but the dragon symbol is comprised of two rather complicated symbols, so I'm happy to have this more simplified looks nice and crisp. 

The next step was to incorporate it into my banner for Nine Dragons Sculpture Art shop at 1000 Markets.  Well, it really wasn't as simple as I thought it would be. I'm a firm believer that artwork should always take center stageand right away I could see that the red on white stamp was not going to work. So straight to my Gimp photo program I went. 

Got rid of the white background...and added it as a layer to the banner. Still no good having a bright red logo. So then I tried changing the color to the same gold I use for the font. It took ages of fiddling until I finally matched it, but it still was fighting for too much attention. So I went through several steps of resizing, duplicating, trying little logos here and there and all over the place and loved nothing. 

I was ready to give up after about 3 hours of messing with it and my husband told me not to give up, that he knew I'd figure it out. Then off to bed he went, leaving me sitting at the puter with a stubborn look on my face. Not long after, I came up with the gray on gray approach. It only took another hour to figure out how exactly to get the gray I wanted since I was not able to use transparency on top of another transparency. I must say I learned a ton of new tricks and ideas while doing this...wouldn't work for this project but I sure have some inspiration for future ones! 

Anyways, I'm now quite happy with the result and so excited to finally have my very own chop and logo! My next step will be to use this as a template for my business cards by expanding the gray down below the banner and using that for my information. 




  1. it looks wonderful Sue, i can tell how excited you are! Definitely a very cool thin to have, i always liked those wax seals :)

  2. Thanks, Joni! I guess I also like the fact that it's handmade too, and not just stamped out by a machine :)

  3. Wow Sue! That's an unique and precious gift, and a lifetime gift. Now, I hope you use it in lots of art works! ;-)


Please leave your comments, your opinions will help format the content of this site. Comments will be reviewed for content and then posted.