The Advent banners this year are painted on silk. There will be a new one displayed each of the 4 weeks of this Season. The Liturgical Arts Committee hopes you will find something to reflect upon as you are in this sacred space during this wondrous time of the year.
The process of painting on silk is multi faceted. I use French liquid dyes on white Habitoi silk yardage. Paint sits on top of a surface, but dyes penetrate the fibers. Thus, the image can be seen from both sides. (You’re welcome, choir!) The silk is hand hemmed, then stretched on a frame. In this case the banners and frame are 4’ x 10’. I freehand draw on the silk, approximating my 2” x 4” sketch, using a water based clear resist. The resist creates white lines. The dyes are painted in between the lines. I am very grateful for the help of Joan Murchison and Cindy Nelson who helped with the painting. In theory, the dyes should stay in the cells created by the resist, but in reality the color frequently “jumps” over the line, resulting in beautiful blendings and mixtures. I love that! Silk by nature is strong, but gentle and free flowing, and when the art is that way too, it is cohesive. When the silk is removed from the frame, it is sandwiched between clear newsprint and rolled into a tight ball, then steamed on top of the stove for about an hour and 15 minutes to set the dyes. Next it is unwrapped and held under cool running water to remove the resist and any excess dye. I let it “rest” overnight, then it is ready to be ironed and hung.
The first banner represents the wounded, scattered flock and the tender, loving shepherd. It reminds us that the shepherds and other “ordinary” people were among the first to know of the coming of Jesus. We are His people and the sheep of his flock. We anticipate the goodness of coming home to be with Him. The sky could be sunrise or sunset. Sunrise could be interpreted as the dawn of new things to come, sunset as anticipation of that Holy Christmas Eve.
Stay tuned for an interpretation of each of the next 3 banners in the succeeding weeks.
~ Mary Ellen Porter