A few weeks ago, a product-engineer friend of mine and I were talking about church banners. He designs office furniture, so he is aware of the multitude of materials that are available to designers. Why, he wondered, do we often restrict our worship visuals to felt hangings, which we iron as perfectly flat as we possibly can? Why is this medium so universally accepted and why is, say, a wooden or metal sculpture less so?
What Is It About Felt?
The answers to these questions aren't really so difficult. Felt is relatively inexpensive. Its construction-paper quality just begs for someone to make something out of it. A felt banner is fairly light and easy to hang. Felt can be found in many different colors and is the easiest way I know of to get "big color." It's easy to cut and doesn't have a specific grain. And you can sew, glue, and cut it cleanly without worrying about frayed edges. OK, so there are good reasons to use felt-but what about the flatness?
Add a Dimension
The banner at left was designed before my friend and I had our conversation. A simple design, this would be an easy-to-make banner for Lent and/or Easter. The purple color is right for the season. If using throughout Lent, the crown could be left off until Easter morning. The background fabric and gold rim-representing the robe Christ was forced to wear-is slit vertically and left to hang as it falls. Nice, but flat.
What if the crown were cut out of cardboard and covered with yellow and orange felt? It would certainly be more dramatic, and the unusual dimension would force us to hang it somewhere other than the front wall. A little change might do us good!