In the Round

Sometimes a person has to die to get noticed.

That may seem a little dramatic, but I hadn’t heard of Phil Baines before his death. I don’t recall how I discovered the website that featured a memorial to Baines, but what a great find. Baines was a British-born would-be priest turned graphic designer and later professor at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. An online search for “Phil Baines” will turn up some really great work using typography. Often he used big type in less-than-obvious ways, such as the extra-large hanging paschal “candles” shown above.



What makes these candles so compelling to look at? Once you get past the beauty of the color and shapes and imagine them moving slightly, you can’t help but try to make something of the text. A letter here, a recognizable word there. Compared to so many too-full flat screens of text, the graphics on these cylinders are a puzzle to be studied and solved.



From the hour or so I spent learning about Phil Baines—the person and his work—I think he’d be the sort of person who would allow us to simply copy his work. But we shouldn’t. Inspired, we should find our own ways to accomplish the same wonder and beauty. What opportunities are there in or around your worship spaces to adapt the idea of cylinders wrapped in a familiar text such as John 3:16? The words could be printed using a wide-format printer (check with your local sign companies), and cut paper could be applied decoupage-style. But where to put such a thing? Here are some ideas for what you could wrap with words:

  • An architectural pillar or two in the sanctuary so that the installation must be viewed from different angles for the text to make sense
  • The baptismal font, particularly when a baptism is scheduled
  • A troublesome support post in the middle of your narthex just waiting for a sense of purpose
  • Multiple concrete forming tubes placed on the sanctuary platform


Wherever you find or however you create your cylinders, avoid the temptation to place them so that the full text is too obvious. Beauty can be simple, but it is seldom obvious.


Dean Heetderks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan, and art director of Reformed Worship. Show and tell him about your experiences at

Reformed Worship 152 © June 2024, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.