Cory Atwood. Wilton, Conn.: More-house-Barlow, 1986, 82pp., $9.95.
Inspired by the growing use of banners in worship, many people have considered becoming banner makers. Some have succeeded. Others have hesitated, unsure of where to begin or what's involved in making a banner. Banners for Beginners offers clear guidelines that will help potential banner makers translate their ideas into banners that enhance worship.
Atwood begins with a brief justification for the place of banners and other artistic expressions in the church, tracing works of art and visual decoration back to Bezalel and Oholiab (the tabernacle craftsmen), stating that "banners have the same purposes that all other [ecclesiastical] art forms have had for over three thousand years: to inspire worship, to instruct us in God's will, and to exhort us to faithfulness" (P. 1).
That pages the follow provide thorough and clear step-by-step instructions for assembling a banner. Atwood's process involves non-sewing techniques, but his ideas could easily be adapted by seamstresses. He discusses basic design principles, lettering considerations and alphabet styles, the use of fabrics and other craft materials, and ways of displaying, hanging, and storing the completed banners.
In the second half of the book Atwood includes nine color reproductions of banners (most are his designs) with patterns and instructions for the very inexperienced who feel they must copy a given design. However, Atwood encourages his readers to depart from these patterns and to be creative and original in their banner making—advice I would agree with.
Some of the example banners are marred by design problems and could be visually improved by simplifying the designs, by eliminating some of the scattered images in order to communicate a single idea, and by using more unified and subtle color harmonies.
I appreciated Atwood's explanations of how fabric texture, alphabet styles, and symbols were selected for their appropriateness. His accounts of how his ideas were conceived and developed on each banner are good examples of the creative process.
On the whole, Cory Atwood's book would be very useful, instructive, and stimulating for a new banner maker. This is a book that pastors, church leaders, and church libraries should make available to encourage the art of banner making in their congregations.