This banner was created to celebrate World Communion Sunday, but it could be used in many other settings because of its simple symbolism. Its beauty comes from the artful combination of many diverse elements.
It’s been some years since we made this banner at my church, but it remains one of my favorites. At a recent workshop I led, one of the attendees described her church’s variation of this design. During Lent they invited members to bring in pieces of cloth of any sort and lay them loosely on a cross made of chicken wire. In preparation for Easter Sunday, members of the visual arts group tore the cloth into rough strips and wove them into the chicken wire. In a dramatic transformation, the everyday cloth became a work of art. One member even laid a pair of sneakers at the cross—and, sure enough, on Sunday the laces were woven in right along with the other fabrics.
The idea behind this banner is that people from every walk of life make up the kingdom of God on earth and that the Spirit is working through each to further that kingdom. The variety of people is represented by the horizontal and vertical strips of multicolored, multipatterned cloth.
This project is an exercise in giving up control. If you’ve ever proposed a great idea to a committee, you know that by the time all of the “You know, you could . . .” comments have died down, you may be left with an idea not at all like the one you started with. Well, here’s a banner that simply can’t be over-designed, even by committee. You can honestly tell the committee that even you don’t know what the final product will look like!
For the raw materials, we asked a number of people in the congregation to sew narrow fabric tubes from any kind of fabric they had on hand. We specified the width (2.5 in/6.5 cm) and length (50 in/125 cm and 120 in/3 m) of the finished tubes and encouraged people not to use any one fabric for more than 6-12 in/15-30 cm of the tube. But we were careful not to specify the colors or patterns or finishes of the fabrics, except for the navy, gray, and black strips that define the cross.
Every Piece a Story
As the fabric tubes came in, everyone had a story to tell about the fabric they had used. Although the stories were interesting, I’ll admit that in the back of my mind I was wondering how we were going to make something cohesive out of such variety. But it worked!
Weaving Woes Solved
Weaving the tubes together turned out to be the toughest part. You’d think that this amount of fabric would hold together by itself. Not so. In fact, at one particularly trying point in the process we lifted the banner up, only to have all the strips fall in a pile at our feet. So for stability and longevity, we added a small square of fusible interfacing wherever one strip overlapped another. Problem solved.
Come and See: The Book
This article is reprinted from Come and See: 24 Creative Ideas for Worship Visuals, a unique resource that offers practical, doable ideas for creating visuals to use in worship. You’ll find plans for constructing banners, paraments, installations, and other visuals using a variety of media such as fabric, paper, drawing and painting, and projection.
Come and See offers season-specific projects, visuals to celebrate special events, intergenerational projects, and more. It’s an excellent resource for visual arts or worship committees or for anyone who seeks to glorify God through creativity. To order call 1-800-333-8300 or visit faithaliveresources.org.
Visit RW 108 online for a downloadable sample letter that invites people to submit fabric strips to create the “Common Threads” banner.