A Bible study flag!

I’ve been looking at flags recently and the stories behind their creation.

At school we’re taught about our Union Jack flag and the joining of four countries in the symbolism (apparently the Welsh dragon, Yorkshire rose and Lancashire rose is just hidden from view!

The Salvation Army flag has significance in the trinity with the Yellow star being the fire of the Holy Spirit, the Red – the blood of Jesus and the blue – the purity of God.

One of my favourite flags is the Indian flag with the wheel in the centre. It’s was originally going to be a spinning wheel and hints at a time when we British were being idiots with someone else’s country and the wheel represented India breaking free and the fight over woven cloth, the story of Ghandhi spinning cloth as a protest is well worth a search and read.

Flags and banners are important pieces of fabric with meaning and pride behind them. 

I’ve been looking too at Tibetan prayer flags and think there is something in making a personal prayer flag or a series of flags. Each one with symbolic meaning, remembering a time of importance or pushing us towards a greater glory.

I sketch and doodle a lot, especially during sermons and lectures. It’s how I keep my mind focused. Recently I began showing some of the sketches to people and decided to take them a step further.

What if I turned these sketches, doodles and notes into textile flags, similar in size to a prayer flag?

Last week our church began a new Bible study titles Jesus at the centre. I went along and took my sketch book. This time, instead of simply doodling I would think about what I hear and try to put the message into a flag.

This is the result.

Part of me feels I shouldn’t explain it, people should ‘get it’ or not get it.

So I will simply explain how I made it.

It’s a piece of canvas, the type you use for tote bags.

I used Inktense sticks and water to paint the background, I saw something on YouTube about how the sticks can be used as a fabric paint if you iron it once dry.

In the centre I hand embroidered in gold thread the Hebrew word Yeshua, which is the Hebrew name for Jesus, this took quite a while and the gold thread was a wee bit difficult.

Since everyone says I have neat handwriting I hand painted descriptive words for emotions around the edge.

I painted a small piece of ribbon with the words Lord of All, a reference to something said during the study and sewed this in place.

Then I frayed the edges, stiffened the top and punched two eyelets so the flag can be hung on a wall or joined to another with ribbon.

As for the meaning, I suppose it means whatever you believe it means. Perhaps you recognise an emotion around the edge and recognise a need to hand it over. Or perhaps you recognise that Jesus came as a man and experienced all these emotions so He truly understands us. Perhaps you see something totally different and it’d be interesting if you wanted to share that in the comments.

Either way, I’m looking forward to the next Bible study.

Telling the Bible story through Knitting

This morning I travelled to the Salvation Army church in Warrington to see a fantastic display of 3D knitted work.

The whole piece, which spans around the main church hall took almost a year to create, thousands of hours of work and many contributing knitters and artists.

It contains almost 400 knitted characters, over 130 animals and numerous rocks, seashells, wine goblets, buildings, boats  and scenery. Very few knitting groups could take on the challenge of knitting the bible with such flair and skill.
It’s a display which has been lovingly supported by the whole church in Warrington and the result is stunning.

Biblical scenes from the garden of Eden right through to the ressurection have been re-created as only knitters can, each scene thought out and the contributors read and re-read each bible story, thinking about how this should be created. I can imagine the questions about the nativity, which traditionally  have one or two sheep and a couple shepherds, but in reality the shepherds were watching a herd, so a whole field of knitted sheep were needed.

Just how many loaves needed to be made to justify feeding the multitudes? And how would a net bursting with fish be created.

See the video here.


The display is currently on display at it’s home at the Salvation Army church in Warrington, but plans are in place for it to travel to the Edinburgh Fringe festival next year and more exhibition plans are being made, so I hope you can see it in person.

I went to see the exhibition on a Sunday, which being a church also meant I stayed for the service. The people were very welcoming and excited to see the results of the exhibition, and here’s where it gets exciting.

The BBC came to do a short piece on the exhibition and the exhibition has reached thousands through the BBC. As I sat in the hall I heard someone else mention they were at the church for the first time. Others have driven from Wales, Southport, I came from Leeds, all to see the exhibition.

The church has made connections with people from Australia and other countries, and the visitors book is looking full.

It used to be that stories from the bible were shown through church windows and tapestries, mainly for people who were illiterate, so all could have the bible accessible, then school became available to all and the need for visual story telling died down, but perhaps the need is being revived. Our country, like many countries, are becomming new homes for people from other countries, people who don’t have English as a first language, people who don’t know the bible stories we take for granted. In this world of 3D graphics, perhaps this exhibition will be the starting place for some people to find the hope they’ve been searching for.

In a world where fewer children are learning the bible stories I saw children visiting and having their photos taken next to their favourite stories, during the service church members spoke of people they had met that week who were in need and the church, who seem to have so many exciting things going on through the week were able to help or point them in the right direction.

I don’t know many church events that can bring the world back into the church, but this exhibition sure seems to be one of them.

Creative Bible study – John 4

I’ve been dipping into the book ‘Craftivism’ recently, it’s by Betsy Greer, but has contributions from many other crafters and artists.

One contributor, Inga Hamilton, begins by explaining her love of craft, but continues to tell a story of working with her husband on an exhibition called Elementals Birds. She describes it more as a social experiment, coming from a negative feeling experienced whilst at another exhibition. It wasn’t revulsion at the exhibits, but rather a mix of dark lighting, art in dark charcoal and graphite, and discordant music, that were purposely brought together to create a disharmonious feeling within the soul.

Inga questioned, if an artist focusing on the negative can bring such an experience to the viewer, could it work in the opposite way?

A meditative discipline was developed for creative people to practice before beginning work. then invited 100 creators to follow it. They were asked to create a variety of birds from a choice of templates given to them and asked to focus on positive and loving thoughts. These thoughts, brought from the heart, down the arms, and into the piece they were creating were focused on the viewer, wishing them unconditional peace and goodwill.

Of the 100 asked to participate Inga saw four different responses.

  1. a small group unable to participate due to other commitments
  2. Single, male artists, who couldn’t take part, not because they didn’t want to, but because they couldn’t wish peace and harmony to complete strangers; they didn’t know how.
  3. Mainly graphic artists and painters, who were happy to take on the challenge and asked for the bird templates.
  4. Almost all replies past the deadline, came from craftspeople. Their responses were late because they had been consumed by the project itself.

Few of the craftspeople wanted the templates, creating off-piste, sculpting, carving, building birds that sang, birds that raised money for the homeless. birds that focused on mental health.

The result was the most successful exhibit to date staged at the venue.

This made me wonder.

What if I followed a similar technique as a tool for bible study.

What if I read a portion of the Bible, then sat down and created something. Could God use my art and whole being to create something that otherwise would not have been created?

Here are the rules (or rather suggestions)

  1. Make your space – get out some drawing or craft tools, paper, pens, things you feel like working with and set them up as though you were about to make something.
  2. Decide whether to have music playing, I prefer music.
  3. Read the story or chapter you’ve chosen.
  4. Sit still for a moment. You might have come to the craft space with something in your mind to make, take the moment to clear that idea away.
  5. Write the bible verse and date on a corner of the page
  6. create – just create. Maybe you make nothing at all, maybe you make a mess. The ‘God-Art’ might not come for a moment or two, that’s ok, just continue making.
  7. Focus on God, What might he be saying? What did you read? Keep an eye on your natural tendency to pre-guess what is being made. Imagine God working through you, through your hands and into the paper or item.

At some point in the process you might start to see the message. Don’t worry about your skill level, this is between you and God, and he thinks your talent is just perfect for what he needs.

So, I had a go, and just to show you how it went I videoed the process.

I chose the story of the woman at the well because it was used on Sunday at a church I went to.

It is a long video (15mins) but there is no time limit to this.

It you give it a go, share the creation with me, I’d love to see it.