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What's a papercut banner?

Updated: Feb 19, 2021

<<by Melinda Creech (guest blogger for Lent!)>>

I thought I would tell you a little bit about the process of making papercut banners. I was first introduced to the process by reading a book called Spaces for Spirit: Adorning the Church, by Nancy Chinn.

I had been making fabric banners with our church in Houston, but that turned out to be quite expensive. I thought paper would be a lot cheaper. So I began. I usually involved the community in the process. I made banners for churches, weddings, and mission trips. They were large, usually about 3’ x 9’. At first I used photographer’s backdrop paper, but then I discovered I could use Tyvek and the banners would be much more resilient. I helped the youth in our church in Waco make one that hung outside in a tree for about six months before a storm finally damaged it beyond repair.

It’s been great fun. My favorite one is the one I did for my daughter’s wedding. They were married on Maundy Thursday outside under a tree. My prayer for them was that they would shine like stars in a dark world (Philippians 2:15) and that they would have deep roots and firm foundations to know the love of Christ (Ephesians 3:18-19). The banner drew all those things together.

So let’s begin. I had used up all my paper, so I had to buy a new roll.

I have a rubber mat that I put under the paper while I cut the designs with exacto knives.

Here are the tools of the trade—exacto knives, charcoal pencils, compass, straight edges, erasers.

Then comes the next to the hardest step—drawing out the design. I usually carry it around in my head for a month before I put it down on paper, and it can change along the way. I was inspired by the stained glass window in the church, and I wanted to include the Stations of the Cross. Here’s the beginning sketches.

The hardest step is knowing what to cut away and what to leave and continuing to believe that it will all make sense in the end.

So that’s how it begins.

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