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Showers of Thanks

I love type. If you’ve been reading this column for any length of time, you have picked up on my infatuation with letter forms but also, no doubt, my resistance to traditional banner letters. So much can go wrong so quickly.

Lois Prahlow, one of the banner design workshop presenters at the Calvin Symposium on Worship and the Arts, had such a clever idea that I couldn’t resist passing it on–and the inspiration it gave me for a Thanksgiving visual in my own church.

A Giant Velcro Strip

The inside of Lois’s church sanctuary is surrounded by brick. Not painted cinder block, mind you. Bare brick. One day, Lois watched as kids in the church threw their winter hats and gloves as high as they could up against the brick walls–where they stuck. In that moment, she realized that the brick columns and walls surrounding the space in which she worshiped were like one giant strip of Velcro. The possibilities!

Since then, Lois has created several designs where cloth shapes or letters are pressed against the coarse texture of the brick walls. One design that was particularly nice was the word Alleluia, cut out of bright yellow, orange, red, and purple fabric and repeated over and over in a line around the sanctuary.

Both the creative use of letter forms and the flowing of the words into the worship space intrigued me, but unlike Lois’s, many sanctuaries are made of wood, not brick. Here’s another idea to get those words off the front wall.

No Cornucopias Here

Thanksgiving is such a rich time and yet the visuals we use are often so trite. In this design, I am trying to visually suggest the many things that God showers down on us. This design is fairly "light," so for maximum impact you’ll want to make sure you have enough strands of adequate length (ours are up to 20' long with more than one word strung on each). Once you have established the scale, construction is simple. Cut two copies of each letter out of felt. I used white felt for contrast against the darker background of the front of our church. Then string these letters on a light thread (we used kite string) that has been sandwiched between the back-to-back letters. Use spray adhesive or iron-on interfacing to adhere the two sides of each letter together. Attach the strands to bare tree branches (or mobile-like on dowels) with enough space around them to allow them to move a bit.