Every year from July 9th through the 13th, State College shuts down its streets and welcomes hundreds of artists into town for the Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. As a kid I remember looking at tent upon tent of beautiful creations, being gastronomically enticed by vendors selling strudels and kabobs, hearing music everywhere and above it all were banners floating in the sky. As an adult, I am, dare I say, a bit more cynical about it all, but I still enjoy perusing the art, sampling the edibles and listening to whatever band is playing at the Festival Shell. And I still dig the banners. They’re everywhere, all colors and themes, reigning over the festival.
I’ve always wanted to make one and this was the year. First, I had to come to terms with the banner size- 72″ x 30″- which I’m sure is perfectly normal in bannerland, but it is more fabric than I am used to working with at one time. The banner hangs fifteen to twenty feet above the ground, so I needed imagery with clear color and definition. I adapted a scarf design I made a few years ago to fit the required shape (thank you Dad, for the use of your projector). I used yellow canvas bought at the local fabric store for the base and the rest of the cotton was donated by a generous friend. The pieces were cut and stabilized with double-sided fusible interfacing. I sat down and had a quiet talk with my sewing machine and proceeded to applique my heart out. At some point I came up for breath and tea. Hours later, covered in thread, I had twelve feet of fabric with two peacocks and four elephants adhered to it. I folded it over, created space for a dowel at the top, sewed in a metal rod at the bottom for weight (the festival site suggests chain, but that is unwieldy and unattractive) and just like that, I had a banner. On time, even.
Trunks and Tails placed third in the professional category of this year’s competition. The awards ceremony is Saturday, July 12, 9 a.m. at the Allen Street Stage if you care to check it out. Next year, I’m taking first place.
P.S. The books arts are represented this year by Kirstin Demer of Green Trike Press and Regina and Daniel St. John of Chena River Marblers. Check the Arts Fest website for their locations and support the arts!