Last fall, after I published my Role Models post on Miranda July, my mom and I were talking about Miranda's project, Learning to Love you More, which was a list of assignments that people could complete and post to the website. Specifically, my mom brought up assignment #63: Make an encouraging banner and hinted that she would love if someone made one for her. I took the hint and scheduled it as a Mother's Day gift. Deciding what the banner should say was pretty easy. I wrote down a few statements, but the one I kept coming back to is something that my mom and I talk about frequently: You know what to do. Sometimes we feel confused and think we don't know what direction to go next, but the truth is that deep down we really do know what to do. We just have to learn to trust that knowledge.
Next, I decided on a design for the banner. The official instructions for the Learning to Love You More banner tell you to make it out of construction paper but I wanted to do something a little nicer and a little more durable. I decided to cut each letter out individually and embellish with some fabric.
I have a ton of supplies crammed into my tiny craft room, so every time I start a project, I think about what I can use before I go out and buy anything new. I'd been given a bag of mat board scraps and thought that they would be perfect for the letters, since they're strong and will hold their shape.
To make a template, I printed out the phrase in Arial, one letter per page. I realized afterward that since a lot of the letters were duplicates I could have saved some ink by printing them once and re-using them. I could also have saved ink by setting the font to be an outline, rather than filled in. As you can see in the photo above, my printer ran out of ink partway through.
I cut out the templates and traced them on the mat board, then used a utility knife to cut them out. I had to go over the lines several times to make it all the way through the thick board. The rounded letters were more tricky and needed some cleanup as the board didn't cut evenly on the curved sections.
I was planning on just painting the letters but decided instead to use my signature collage style with some maps, music notation, and tissue paper. I used liquid acrylic medium and a sponge to attach some torn scraps to the letters. Then I scrubbed a thin wash of blue acrylic paint on them. I loved how the acrylic medium protected parts of the mat board and those areas stayed lighter while the bare board soaked up more paint and those areas were darker.
Next, I glued down some more pieces and went over them again with purple paint, making sure to make all the edges purple. They seemed a bit dark at that point so I went in one more time with the blue paint to brighten up certain areas.
I put the letters on a piece of foam from an ironing board and used an awl to punch holes in them. Each letter needed two holes so that they would sit flat. I strung some yarn (also something I had on hand) through each one, starting at the end of the phrase.
I put the yarn through the right role first so that it would sit along the back of the letter and come back out the left hole. Doing it like this meant that they were nice and flat and they stayed in place when the banner was hung, but it was still easy to move them around to get the spacing right.
I spaced them all out and added some strips of sparkly black fabric in between the words.
Then, I snuck into my mom's house (I'm glad I have a key!) and hung it so that it would be there when we went back to her place after our Mother's Day tea.
This was pretty simple and fun to make. Give it a try and let me know how it goes! Or, get in touch if you would like me to make one for you (hello(at)stephaniemedford.com). It can say anything you want—as long as it's not super long.
If you made or ordered an encouraging banner, what would it say? Leave a comment below!