About Women’s Devices

The devices Tolkien designed for women have very distinctive traits, which makes it very easy for you to learn how to design your own. Women’s devices were all circles, so as very first step to designing your own device draw a perfectly round circle on a piece of paper or on a drawing program on your computer.

There is generally an identifying flower that has some special significance to the lady who uses it. On both of Luthien’s devices are Niphredil, which first sprung up at her birth.
The flowers used on devices had special significances to the bearer, so before deciding what flower you want to choose, look around on the web or check out a book in the library that talks about the various meanings of flowers.

Select a flower that says something about you – one that has a meaning reflecting your personality or the flower from the month you were born. For example, if you were born in February, a blue violet. Is there one particular flower you love and people associate with you? Then use that.

When you have chosen your flower, consider it’s color(s) and decide on a color scheme. Many devices have three or four colors, and most of woman’s heraldic devices are set on a black background. Melian the Maia’s device differs in that it is white and gray rather than black.

There can also be a mark that identifies you with your family. Once again referring to Luthien, on one of her two devices is a field of stars, which harkens to her father Elwe’s device. If you have a family crest, you could use the most prominent feature from it, or if not you could use something that relates to the meaning of your surname or the job/position of your family.

Herald of Luthien Herald of Melian

Herald of Thingol Herald of Idril (Celebrindal)

Making Your Device

Now it is time to put it all together. The flower on your device could go directly in the center, or you could have multiple flowers radiating from the center and reaching to the edge of the field.

When you do have points touching the edge of your field, it is important pay heed to rank: a princess bore at least four points; one of high rank such as Idril bore as many as twelve.
Depending on how you want it to look, a single flower in the center or up to three petals/points touching the sides of the field generally look pretty, but use as many or as few as you desire!

After you’ve positioned your flower(s) you can add in the family mark. So your family is into stargazing? Put some white or silver stars around that beautiful blue violet. Or perhaps your surname means ‘sun’ or ‘shining’; you could add beams of light radiating from the center to the edge of the field.

Color your device now. Carefully fill in the flower and other sections of your device, finishing by coloring in the background of the field. Now step back and see what you’ve created. If you don’t like it, try again. That’s about it! You’ve identified yourself as a woman of Middle-Earth!

Displaying your Device

Well, you’ve done it. You designed your own Middle-Earth woman’s heraldic device. But how can you show it off to the world? Here are a few ideas.

1) Using fabric paints, decorate a book bag, backpack, or tote bag with your device.

2) Have a stamp or seal made for you bearing your insigne.

3) Make a stencil, buy the appropriate color paints, and stencil your device onto your wall to make an awesome border in your unique Middle-Earth room.

4) Go to a garage sale or the store and buy some plain wooden chairs or a headboard. Either paint or stencil the design onto the wood – on the headboard or chair back – and you’ve got a truly personal piece of furniture.

Be creative, and have fun!

~ Anorwen_Niphredil

Sources: J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; Emblems and Heraldry
By Måns Björkman