Saturday, August 10, 2013

Craft The Three Nails and A Fish Chrismon

The three nails and a fish Chrismon refers to the
scripture Galations 2:20. I've hung my sample
here on my thorn bush in back of the house for
the photograph. This symbol has been around for
a long time but, it isn't as common on Chrismon
trees today.
The fish, Ichthys, combined with three nails here is symbolic for Christians being crucified with Christ, Galations 2:20.

Paul Confronts Peter
19"For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." 

Supplies Needed:

  • a nice selection of metallic beads
  • fine wire
  • skewers or toothpicks (I used large ones here)
  • tin foil
  • black paint
  • white glue
  • sequins
  • scissors
  • three tiny buttons
  • chenille stems
  • masking tape
Procedure: First you will need to clip off one end each of three skewers. Glue on top of each skewer a tiny button; it may not stick too well but this will not matter because you will then wrap the skewer and button with tin foil and a bit of glue. Set aside these homemade 'nails' to dry over night The following day wrap them together in the shape of a cross (below) with silver wire. 
      Now you will need to twist together a couple of chenille stems to form the fish. Wrap masking tape around the wire fish and then with additional wire wrap the nails and fish together as shown in the pictures below. 
      String the metallic beads and wrap these in and out of the fish shape only. Brush the nails with thinned black paint to make them look worn. Add a metallic thread for hanging.

The Fish in a Chrismon Symbol: Ichthys (also Ichthus or Ikhthus /ˈɪkθəs/), from the Koine Greek word for fish: ἰχθύς, (capitalized ΙΧΘΥΣ or ΙΧΘΥϹ) is a symbol consisting of two intersecting arcs, the ends of the right side extending beyond the meeting point so as to resemble the profile of a fish, used by early Christians as a secret Christian symbol and now known colloquially as the "sign of the fish" or the "Jesus fish."
      According to tradition, ancient Christians, during their persecution by the Roman Empire in the first few centuries after Christ, used the fish symbol to mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes:
…when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company. Current bumper-sticker and business-card uses of the fish hark back to this practice. The symbol is still used today to show that the bearer is a practicing Christian.
Christianity Today, Elesha Coffman, "Ask the Editors",
Above, I have pictured the two shapes, nail cross and fish apart and
then together to form the frame work for the Chrismon costruction.
Now I will only need to wrap beaded wire around the fish alone. You
do not need to know much of anything about beading to craft this
particular Chrismon.
      There are several other hypotheses as to why the fish was chosen. Some sources indicate that the earliest literary references came from the recommendation of Clement of Alexandria to his readers (Paedagogus, III, xi) to engrave their seals with the dove or fish. However, it can be inferred from Roman monumental sources such as the Cappella Greca and the Sacrament Chapels of the catacomb of St. Callistus that the fish symbol was known to Christians much earlier. Another probable explanation is that it is a reference to the scripture in which Jesus miraculously feeds 5,000 people with fish and bread (Matthew 14:15-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:12-17, and John 6:4-13). The ichthys may also relate to Jesus or his disciples as "fishers of men" (e.g., Mark 1:17). Tertullian, in his treatise On Baptism, makes a pun on the word, writing that "we, little fishes, after the example of our ΙΧΘΥΣ Jesus Christ, are born in water." Still another explanation could be the reference to the sign of Jonah. Just like he was in the belly of a big fish, so Christ was crucified, entombed for three days, and then rose from the dead.

Here you can see that I have glued and wrapped the end of a clipped skewer
with a button and foil in order to create my own nails. I have done this so
that my Chrismon will be lighter weight and less deadly should a little
person grab it from the Christmas tree in the church.
The Three Nails in a Chrismon Symbol: Triclavianism is the belief that three nails were used to crucify Jesus Christ. The exact number of Holy Nails has been a matter of theological debate for centuries.
      Though in the Middle Ages, the crucifixion of Christ typically depicted four nails, beginning in the thirteenth century, some Western art began to represent Christ on the cross with his feet placed one over the other and pierced with single nail. The poem Christus patiens attributed to St. Gregory Nazianzus and the writings of Nonnus and Socrates of Constantinople also speak of three nails.
      The three nails, as a symbol for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, are also used on the coats of arms of Drahovce, Slovakia, Saint Saviour, Jersey, St. Clement Parish, Ottawa and in the seal of the Society of Jesus.
      The plant Passiflora edulis (Passion fruit) was given the name by early European explorers because the flower's complex structure and pattern reminded them of symbols associated with the passion of Christ. It was said that the flower contained the lashes received by Christ, the crown of thorns, the column, the five wounds and the three nails.

George Strait sings, "Three Nails and a Cross."


  1. I've never actually seen a Chrismon like this one before. Kathy you have really worked hard to build an exceptional collection of Christmas ornament crafts here.

  2. Thank you, I enjoy coming up with new ideas for my students to try out every year.