The Erwin Clan | Skillshare Projects

Stacy Erwin

Strangely charming from top to bottom.



The Erwin Clan

My dad, Virgil Leroy Erwin, went by Leroy. His dad, Virgil Lyle Erwin, went by Lyle. They were both farmers. My dad died when I was 24. He had cancer and it took me down like a ton of bricks. This was a hard project for me, but it was also a good one. I had fun, too. I got to hear some stories I hadn’t heard before, and I learned some things about my grandpa and dad that I didn’t know.


I didn't want to do a normal crest shape. 

My dad was a very responsible driver. His Chevy farm truck had 100,000+ miles on it. Maybe 200+. So, if he cracked 55 mph, it meant the house, or worse, a cow, was on fire. There is a special sign that has to go on slow moving vehicles: a bright orange triangle. So, as a joke—and because that sign does have to be on all of our farm equipment—that shape was a perfect starting point for my new family crest.

Font Interlude

Next, I picked a font. That was the easiest step. I knew I wanted a simple, stocky font with varying widths. The interplay of the R and the W on Gill Sans was what I was looking for. I tinkered around with the kerning a little, but ended up resetting it. Normally, I’m a font/kerning nerd, so it’s a thing of near-biblical astonishment that I was done with that part in less than five minutes.

Everything else was a process. I tried a bunch of things.

(I'll upload the actual pictures and evidence of the process tomorrow. Right now, I wanted to get the text written and uploaded.)


I knew I didn’t want a traditional laurel. We are farmers, but not barley or rye (which is what most laurels kind of look like—I get that the distinction isn’t one most would care about, but we ain’t most people). We grow lots of things: corn, soy beans, oats, clover hay, and grass hay –and there was my answer. So I made a grass-hay thing for my laurel. It still looks a little like barley, but shut up about it.

 Before I got to the grass hay, I tried using antlers and some other stuff. My dad was a hunter, and one of my brothers has more antlers in his house than he does socks. They are a mainstay in my family. But try as I might, I couldn’t get them to look right. They just ended up looking like creepy witches fingers… or maybe that’s just me.


The original Erwin Crest is pretty dull. It has three bunches of holly leaves. And.

That’s it.


Three bunches of leaves.

The leaves are supposed to represent honesty and strength. So, our Scottish peoples must have been really honest and strong. That leads me to think they were either loud-mouthed-rude-jacked-asses, or they were speak-when-it-matters-built-like-rocks-capital-A-awesome. Since the original motto also translates to “Fairly and firmly,” I’m going to go with Awesome.

Because of all of that, I decided to leave the leaves in.
It makes it look too Christmas-y for my general taste, but my family is big on genealogy, so I figure I’m just taking one for the team here.

 The space inside the triangle needed to be divided up. At first, I thought I was just going to cut it into three pieces, playing more on the theme of three leaves and the idea I’d begun to form of our core values:




I talked to some family about my grandpa and dad. They were hard-working men. They didn’t complain or shirk. They did what needed to be done and then some. All the men in my family are like that. My grandma and mom and all of the women in my family are like that. I wanted to make symbols of our work and food, because those are the things we talk about and identify ourselves by the most.

 I moved a lot of little ideas around in there. I tried doing pliers, but they just didn’t translate at a distance. The hammer, even though it’s such a standard thing, is better. It’s standard for a reason, I suppose. Same with the pie. My mom almost always has one made, and they are amazing. And when she’s gone, I’ll never have another one like them. (The first time I tried to make pie, I was living in California. I called my mom and asked for the recipe for the crust. I’d seen her do it a thousand times, but never written it down. She goes, “I don’t measure it, Stace, I just put it all together until it looks right. Good luck.” I kid you not.)

I considered putting animals on the sides of the crest to represent attributes, but it didn’t sit right with me. Once I put the phrases in each part of the edge of the triangle, things seemed to start to come together. 

Then I came up with idea of the putting the cow in there. THAT was the turning point. I’d been struggling with dividing the crest into 3 spaces. That forced me to think of making into 4. since dad loved baseball, was a catcher, taught me how to hold a wiffle ball from the time I was 3, there needed to be a home base in there.

Now, for the extra saying. It sounds like we're going to hell. Maybe. But, it's what we call our barn a little ways from our house. I think I was probably 15 years old before it dawned on me that "theotherplace" was three words. It's just what everyone said, "I'm going to theotherplace. I'll be back later. And you knew right where they would be.


Somewhere in the middle of all the hubbub, I created a tartan. We are Scottish way back, and my Aunt said we had one. I looked up the design, and one handy YouTube tutorial later, I had my very own tartan. Hurray!


The last bit of the puzzle was the line at the bottom. I wanted to say the word farming in there somewhere. And lots of people added a location to their crests. The thing is… my family is a bit muttish. We aren’t all Erwins and we are in a bunch of places. I wanted something about this crest to be all-inclusive. So I put “heartland”. One of our local TV stations uses the word “heartland” achingly often in their advertising. I used to hate it, but now, I guess it’s sort of charming. Or it brainwashed me.

So that was my process. I posted my project on my personal facebook and it’s been a big hit so far with my family. I don’t have it connected to my profile here because I’m a curmudgeon like that.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for posting projects of your own. I’ve had a grand time looking over the creativity of other artists these last days.

And thanks to Mr. Draplin for dragging us bums out of our Skittle dens to do this. It’s been fun!

This is my final black and white version. I'm going to update the other versions based on it.


This is an earlier black and white version....

...and my family is Scottish way back, so here is my new crest over one of our family tartans (which I learned how to recreate in Illustrator for this -a nifty trick-)...

And here is what I think is my final color version...
(and I like ellipses...  They are the sluts of the punctuation world...)

Please be patient as I update this with my progress story...  I'm not a quick worker. This took me waaaayyyy longer than it certainly should have. I'm a knit-picker. Yes. That's right. I pick at knits. Knitters, that is. As in, little old ladys who knit. It distracts me. (On another topic, I haven't slept much lately...)



Stacy Erwin


Struggling to divide up the triangle. Thinking of things my dad used to say....

And then I decided to take a break and look at men in kilts. 
Making the tartan was fun. I thought it would be hard, but this was probably the easiest part of the whole project.


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