Bishop Street Methodist Church

Art at the Chapel Explorations into Art and Spirituality

Leave a comment

Plaits and Patches

The 1st Birstall Girls’ Brigade are old hands at puppet creativity having already made the head for Mary.  In their session tonight all the girls – from the Explorers to the Brigaders – got busy on the young shepherd puppet as well as adding more substance to a wise man’s robe.  They frayed patches which they sewed on to the tie-dyed tunic made by the Special Needs Playgroup.  We had “competitive plaiting” too ……I’d thought that this might make a shepherd’s belt but the finished plaits looked so lovely I’m now thinking more along the lines of headgear for a Magi.  And the shepherd’s head took shape (leading him to be christened “Ed Milliband” by the girls!)

photo_3[1] photo_2[1] photo_1[1] photo_4[1] photo (5)

Leave a comment

Aiming for inclusivity

One of the major aims of the Giant Puppet project is to be able to facilitate as many people as possible in being involved in the creative process.  It takes some imagination to work out how the many different groups we’re in contact with might contribute – especially since the need for the puppets to be waterproof means that any paint or dye put onto the fabrics needs to be permanent.  However it’s well worth the effort.  On Monday, the children of the Special Needs Playgroup prepared the young shepherd’s tunic for tie-dyeing.

photo_4[1] photo_3[1] photo_2[1] photo_1[1] photo_5[1]photo (7)

Leave a comment

Many Hands make light work

The Sunday Club at Birstall Methodist, which meets during the Sunday morning service, spent a couple of sessions building up papier mache on the cardboard hands and then painting them.  Our youngest member insisted on sampling the glue so it’s a good job it is only flour and water.  They made an excellent job.

Sunday Club 2014 002 Sunday Club 2014 004

Construction work spread to Edgehill Methodist at the end of the Summer.  The small congregation has recently moved in to All Saints Church on Kerrysdale Avenue, where they have been warmly welcomed by the multi-cultural and multi-lingual Anglican congregation.  The Methodists still hold their regular coffee morning on Thursdays.  Grandchildren of some of the regulars were introduced to the joy of Hama beads and made some “jewels” for the wise men puppets.

photo_4[1] photo_3[1] photo_2[1] photo_1[1]

Leave a comment

Getting the basics in place

Over the Summer holidays, work went on at St James and the Methodist Church in Birstall to get the basics in place for the nativity puppets.  At the Methodist Church, some local families came along for a couple of mornings to cover filled bin bags with papier mache in order to make the basic head shapes.  Carol even got round to modelling some features.

photo_5[1] photo_4[1] photo_3[1] photo (6)

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Fabric Banner Making Tips


Chris Watkins from the East Leake Banner making group led our third workshop. With many years experience as a textile teacher and accomplished fabric artist  Chris inspired us with a vast array of tips and techniques.

banner workshop full res-25

Some tips for making Fabric Banners

Written by Chris Watkins


I would advise the use of woven fabric for the background. A wide variety of woven fabric available from basic calico to expensive jacquards- Woven fabrics are more stable. Stretchy /Knitted fabrics can be stabilised with interfacing but more difficult to work with and I would suggest only used for small areas, i.e. leaves, animals etc

Don’t allow the background fabric to overpower the design- ensure design colours standout. Ensure that the fabric is cut out on the straight grain- running parallel with the threads in the fabric – top to bottom and side to side. Allow extra fabric at edges to turn under or add backing. At least 6” or 15 cms. I have assumed that the final product cannot be washed so a variety of fabrics can be used. If it is intended that the final item may be washable then the fibre content of fabric and the products used is limited.[see Chris.]


Keep designs simple: Templates shapes can be drawn or free designs from internet i.e. leaves, animals, people etc. Note Copyright- it is illegal to use a design unless it is offered as free or permission is granted by the designer. If a group of people are working on a Banner, look at being able to breakdown the design, so several people can work on the design at one time. Make a design of components and then put them all together.


The use of colour is very important – Background do not want to dominate. Design needs to stand out. Be prepared to move around and play with the elements to get the best result.

banner workshop full res-30Chris brought lots of samples to illustrate her talk which included how to transfer photographs onto fabric.


Applique: Cutting out fabric shapes and applying to a background, Quilting, stitching lines or a pattern by hand or machine through layers of fabric.

Embroidery: Cross stitch – using even weave fabric and embroidering a design following a chart. Bondaweb – fusable web used to stick shapes onto background using an iron. Can drawn on the paper side- REMEMBER to REVERSE IMAGE.

Fabric paint: Variety available- follow instructions may need to be ironed to set.

Transfer crayons/paint: Similar to wax crayons – design drawn or painted ono parer and ironed onto man-made fabrics – polyester.

Computer transfer prints: Special papers can be bought at good supermarkets and printed on home computer.
Your Photos onto fabric. – several methods ask Chris.

banner workshop full res-26


Keep straight and look at spacing – measure accurately

Fabric: Cut out letters [use bondaweb [remember to reverse on paper backing] and then couch braid around the edge and stab stitch lettering or use blanket or chain stitch over edge of letters]

Printed letter blocks can be purchased or made from foam sheet

Painted lettering: Plenty of practise and a steady hand needed

Adding decoration

 A variety of decorations can be used -beads, sequins, braid cords, tassels, etc Ensure that they are well attached. Use strong thread and sew on well.

Finishing off

Wadding: A layer of cotton/polyester wadding is added to the back of the design, to give extra support and body to the banner.

Backing: A suitable piece of fabric will need to be applied to the back of the Banner.

Bagging out: The backing fabric is placed onto he right side of the fabric and machined around the outside edge, leaving a gap big enough for it to be turned through to the right side. This gap is them hand sewn together. OR The edges can be Bound either using an edge binding or by bring the backing fabric over the edge and on to the front of the Banner.

Weighting: It may be a good idea to add some weight to the bottom of the Banner- this may be a strip of wood or metal which can be enclosed in the bottom hem.


Tabs: Pieces of folded fabric applied to top of banner for a piece of wood or metal to be threaded through.

Sleeve: A piece of fabric added to the back of the Banner at the top for a piece of wood to be threaded through.

Poles: Made of Metal or wood- curtain poles can be used/


Further Help

General help with a project and Banner workshops 
Contact Chris 01509 821536
Commissions: East Leake Banner group via Chris.


banner workshop full res-29

Chris shares an example of a ‘Prayer Flag’

banner workshop full res-35

Chris explains how the Banner the group created for English Martyrs was made.

banner workshop full res-37

This fabulous book is Chris’s contribution to our Inspired by the Psalms Exhibition currently showing alongside our Banner Exhibition.

banner workshop full res-24

The exhibition is up until September 24th 2014 so if you haven’t seen it yet why not pop in and grab a coffee at the same time.

banner workshop full res-10


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 67 other followers

Build a website with