Let There Be LIGHT Paper Lace Banners for Advent


The feeling was visceral—people gasped when they walked through the double doors to worship that first Sunday of Advent. I (Lisle Gwynn Garrity) worked with a small team at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church to blow up our Advent banner designs to 30' and suspend them above the congregation, allowing the light above to pour through the shapes cut away. The result was breath-taking, transcendent, majestic. Our Advent theme, "Let There Be Light" became known and felt beyond simply cerebral conviction.

I know what you may be thinking—"That's amazing and beautiful but we don't have the ____________ (time, expertise, interest, materials, etc.) to do that." Would you believe me if I told you the entire project took no more than 8 hours with 5-8 people helping at a time? 

The process began with projecting and tracing the design. Hannah Garrity designs the banners to be 102" long and 26.5" wide, but you can create them to be any size following these dimensions. We were quite an ambitious crew, so we set out to create banners that were 30' long and 9' wide. To be honest, we weren't quite sure if it would even work at this scale, but we let our idealism and a healthy dose of Advent hope lead the way. 

We ended up developing a highly sophisticated (aka bootstrapped) system of shifting the roll of paper upward and eventually resting it on the ladders you see in the photo above. We could only project about a sixth of each banner's design at a time, so we developed a rhythm of tracing and shifting, a process that sharpened our team-building skills along the way.

{This step is MUCH simpler for smaller banners. As you will see in our written instructions included in the download & tutorial video, we recommend projecting and tracing the banners horizontally}

Next, we laid the banners across tables (placing layers of newspaper underneath to protect the table from our blades) and cut away the shapes we had traced using x-acto knives. We developed a similar process of cutting and shifting. This part of the process moved swiftly—many hands makes light work!

In case you were wondering, the banners are, indeed, made of paper. We use photography backdrop paper for paper lace, which you can order from Amazon.

And finally, the install. Our sanctuary already has ropes suspended from different positions in the ceiling, so we were able to hoist the banners up using a simple pulley system. If you do not have ropes installed in your sanctuary, you can easily install smaller banners by displaying them vertically against a wall or along a balcony. Each sanctuary has unique possibilities!

If you're intrigued but still wary of the process, feel free to email us with your questions. We're happy to consult via phone or Skype to walk your community through this creative process.

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