Banner making is the ancient art or craft of sewing
Techniques used include applique,
embroidery, fabric painting, patchwork and others.
Trade Union Banners
In the United Kingdom, the first of these banners were sometimes
painted by local signwriters, coachpainters or decorators. More
often than not, they were made by a member of the local branch who
was considered to be artistic. However, from 1837 onwards, more
than three quarters were made by the firm of George Tutill of Chesham
in Buckinghamshire. All their banners were made from pure silk woven
by Huguenots in London. At the height of banner production there
were said to be 17,000 looms in operation.
The silk was stretched taut over a wooden frame
and coated with india rubber, and the oil colours applied to it
were 'old', i.e. had been standing around for a while. This allowed
the paint to dry quickly and to make it more pliant or elastic.
There were many designs from the Bible (e.g.David
slaying Goliath), from heraldry or from popular tradition, e.g.
the "all-seeing eye", or symbols of truth, hope or justice.
With the advent of Conservative governments in
Britain and the dismantling of the welfare state, trades union banners
lost their popularity, and many languished in damp cellars or lofts.
In the last 10 years or so, the interest in these banners has been
rekindled, and many books, videos, postcards and the like have been
produced to help people rediscover and celebrate this part of the
history of working men and women.
There are special museums which restore, preserve
and exhibit trade union banners, e.g. the Pump House People's History
Museum in Manchester.
Design is all-important in a banner for ecclesiastical use. The
banner maker needs a sound knowledge of religious symbolism and
iconography. There is also the question of its use, i.e. indoor
or outdoor. If outdoor, it needs weatherproofing and must be able
to be carried. Whether indoor or outdoor, proper storage provision
must be made.