By Tonya Garner: CNJ staff writer
Clusters of crosses adorn the walls of Cheryl Burch’s quaint Clovis home.
Religious symbols crafted of wood, metal and terra cotta decorate a pale yellow wall in Burch’s inviting living room. They vary in size with some bearing elaborate ornamentation. A short walk across shining wood floors reveals more crosses in the back bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom.
Burch said her cross collecting began many years ago during the Christmas season when she was looking for gift ideas. Because of the large size of her family, the single mother decided to be creative and make personal gifts for her relatives.
“I know I would rather have a homemade gift,” Burch said, “and I chose to make crosses because everyone needs one or two in their home.”
Burch’s 16-year-old daughter, Hollee Plyler, jokingly disagreed with her mother’s reasoning behind choosing the crosses. “She only makes them because they are easy,” Plyler said.
The religious symbol was also a natural choice because Burch grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly.
The blue-eyed brunette said she has gifted numerous crosses to both friends and family. Birthdays, weddings and baby showers have all been occasions for Burch to craft custom crosses.
The petite teenage daughter recalls her mother using the unusual color combination of purple and green to construct a cross for a close friend’s new baby and creating a fruit-themed cross to coincide with another friend’s kitchen theme. “I’ve even made a cross decorated with cats,” Burch said.
The talented crafter has used broken dishes, wood and costume jewelry to create one-of-a-kind crosses. “I always sign the back,” Burch said, “and write the year and the occasion.”
Stylishly dressed and barefoot, Burch casually pointed out several unique crosses on a tour through her homey abode.
A large wire and bead cross hangs among the cluster in the living room. “This is one of my favorites,” Burch said, “because Hollee made it.”
According to Plyler, the simple design took five hours to complete. “It seemed like forever because I had to strip the floral wire,” she said.
As the tour continued, Burch pointed out several crosses in her large collection that were store bought.
“I’ve found them (crosses) in the most obscure places,” Burch said of one large, intricate metal cross purchased in a gate store while attending a family reunion. Another prominent cross features a horseshoe base and stands on the bathroom windowsill. Other crosses hang on walls or stand on tables. Some are whimsical while others are rustic. Even the cozy kitchen features a large handmade cross to match its retro red theme.
But according to Burch, the few crosses hanging in her bedroom hold a special place in her heart. “The bedroom is a place where you want to be serene,” Burch said, “so my most treasured ones are there.”
Burch said she enjoys making the religious symbols. “It’s fun,” she said, “but it takes time and patience.”