It all started with a request from my church for banners to adorn the railing of the choir loft with messages of inspiration. One thing led to another, and my church commission work has grown to include several parishes. I share with you here the pieces I have made. All are done by first exploring each site to view the colors and design elements in the architecture of the church. This can be done by actual visits or by photographs. Pieces are then designed to complement the specific location. Commissions include onsite installation of the artwork.
In the winter of 2011, I had the honor of being commissioned to make two banners for St. John Lutheran Church here in Boscobel, WI. The church is blessed to have a wonderful collection of stained glass windows, and I wanted to incorporate the spectacular colors of the glass in my work. With batiks in hand, I created two banners that I wanted to share with you.
They hang from the choir loft, one on the left, one on the right, visually framing the stained glass windows in the back of the church as you view them when you walk up the aisle.
I created the quilts entirely out of fabric, using batik fabrics and a stained glass applique technique. They measure three feet by ten feet.
In the summer of 2013, I was again commissioned to create paraments for the church for the Season of Growth. I chose the Tree of Life symbol for both the altar and the lectern.
The altar piece features 12 apples for the 12 apostles, and 40 leaves, for the 40 days and 40 nights as well as for the 40 days of lent.
The lectern piece contains 33 leaves, for Christ's 33 years as Man, and for his 33 recorded miracles.
The stole contains various symbols of life, from the wheat to the grape vines to the chalice and host.
As luck would have it, the sister of one of our parishioners saw the banners I made for St. John's in Boscobel, and told her church about them. When a member of her church expressed a desire to do something special in memory of her husband, the banners came to mind, and I was commissioned to make some for their church that carried the same messages.
Here is where the fun of the challenge came in. I wanted to create something that honored the spirit of the project, but still allowed our banners to be one-of-a-kind. In addition, upon visiting their church, I saw that while our stained glass windows are what I would call a traditional style of window, theirs were much more modern, full of geometric shapes as opposed to flowing curves. There was also the matter of colors. Instead of greens, blues, and golds, they wanted more blues and reds.
The size is the same, approximately three feet x ten feet each. Batik fabrics were still the fabric of choice, as they mimic the texture and richness of stained glass so beautifully. The results, I think, met my goals. The style is modern, the colors tie in beautifully with the colors of their windows, and they are in themselves one-of-a-kind. They are installed on the face of the choir loft in St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Janesville, WI.
What I truly love about both sets of banners is how they pull the glowing colors of the windows all around the church. A previously blank wall in both churches is now ablaze in color. I have loved the challenge of working on both projects, and hope to have the opportunity to do so again. In the meantime, if you are in Boscobel, WI or Janesville, WI, I hope you get to see the banners in person.
Through the wonders of the Internet, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in West Grove, Pennsylvania found out about the church banners I had made for St. John's Lutheran Church here in Boscobel. As a result, they commissioned me to make banners for their parish in remembrance of one of their parishioners.
They recently completed construction on a new community center and wanted artwork for both the general meeting room as well as the stair well. Once again, I used their stained glass windows as inspiration to create a series of banners for them.
This set of banners expresses the guiding principle of their parish: To Know Jesus, To Love Jesus, To Serve Jesus. The white lilies are the symbol for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which is the name of their church.
The other set of banners was made for their stairwell, an imposing 12 foot high space that was beautifully filled by these banners which create a cross in the white space between them. Again, the white lilies are used in honor of their parish.
I flew to West Grove to install the banners and was able to be there then they were presented to the congregation. To see such color and pattern bring otherwise blank spaces to life was a joy.
I have the pleasure of working once again with St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Janesville, WI. Their request was for three pieces for the white season of the church that contained meaningful symbols as well as the concept of flowing water. The white season calls to mind purity, light, and joy. The challenge for me was to create something that was primarily white yet still dynamic in design.
Keeping with the stained glass theme of my previous commissions, I chose to work in a wide range of white on white prints with silver 'leading' to give the illusion of etched glass with stained glass overlays. The use of a pale cream fabric creates a cross in the center of the smaller pieces, and repeating crosses in the altar cloth. Flowing water was formed by the interweaving of bands of blue fabrics.
The lectern piece features the dove of peace carrying an olive branch.
The pulpit piece is adorn with interlocking rings of the trinity done in red, gold, and purple.
And finally, the altar cloth, which displays the cross, the crown, and the shell of baptism.