Sunday, January 29, 2012

Making a Nonprofit Banner for a Fundraiser at Flatbread

Actually, this post is about making a nonprofit banner very inexpensively, as inexpensively and cheaply as possible because if your nonprofit had lots of funds, they wouldn't need to do a fundraiser at Flatbread in Paia.  Flatbread donates a portion of each pizza sold on one special night each week to a particular nonprofit.  

The Hali'imaile Community Garden had scored a big win, as the selected nonprofit for Tuesday, February 14, 2012 - also Valentine's Day!

Procrastination is one of those sneaky demons that I'm good friends with. The garden council asked if I wanted to make the banner, and it sounded fun, so I said yes, and that was back in late October. Flatbread wanted the completed banner, approximately 3 feet by 3 feet, in their hands by January 1st, so they could hang it up right away. A two month time frame. 

I am so glad that Saundra, another volunteer from the garden, wanted to help with the banner project. Starting is half the battle. We met the Saturday before Thanksgiving, at the parking area for Upcountry Fine Art in Hali'imaile. It was close to the garden, and Pamela Neswald okayed our big painting project outside since she was creating a space for Saturday art projects inside. I was concerned about working at the garden, fearing the wind would knock over buckets of paint. 

It would have been nice to buy the canvas, already primed, from Upcountry Fine Art - but we were on a budget.  For the size we needed, it was close to $60.  I had some old fabric at home and thought it would be worth recycling into a banner. 

Start with some canvas fabric. In this case, I had an old futon cover that had shrunk in the wash and  was a bit worn out anyhow. The banner was an excuse to cut it up.

We measured at least 3 x 3 feet, with plenty of extra inches on all sides to fold over to make a nice edge. Saundra was a great partner, and quickly cut the fabric.  Fighting the Maui wind, we then slapped a lot of white primer on the fabric.  Another artist friend said we could have used any light colored house paint, but since we had a can of primer free from Community Work Day's paint recycling, I thought we'd use that.

Frantic brush strokes covering the floral design, using cheap thick brushes.

The surface is uneven, but this is for a fundraiser not an art gallery!  Using cheap brushes meant that there were little brush hairs embedded in the canvas, but it was an acceptable cost. 

I learned that using a watercolor marker to mark the edge was not a good idea. The primer made the marks bleed through the other side, and it took a lot of paint later on to cover up the marks. 

We got a good start on the banner, and after it dried, I folded it up and took it home. Saundra and I also made the mistake of dumping the dirty paint water on the parking lot, which would have stained the asphalt, so we spent a lot of time cleaning the parking lot.

Pamela Neswald was a great help because I could pick her brain about how to do the lettering on the canvas. One way is to use a good brush with nice clean edges and use the brush like a calligraphy pen. That was too risky with my bad penmanship. Another method is to transfer the design to the canvas. Pamela sells nifty transfer paper, which is great for artists.  But the other tip she provided was a more bare bones and really messy method of rubbing the design with pencil onto the canvas, and it was cheap.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, and the impending rush of holiday madness, the banner became one of those projects that just lingered and pouted in the corner because I could not come up with a design!  Saundra and I had talked about stapling seed packets to the banner, and painting gardener's hands as a border.

Perfectionism lurked around the banner project because I didn't want it to look too slapped together, and didn't know what to do. 

One night, hanging out at Ambrosia's in Kihei,  DH's idea, after staring at the lava lamp and a very bad colorless rendition of Avatar on the big screen, I started doodling with a pen and came up with a sketch.

I had this fantasy sketch that there would be a pineapple to represent Haliimaile, and a sunflower, a shovel, a rainbow, seed packets... the whole nine yards. And a bird perched on top looking like a smart aleck.

So.... what happened? Nothing... I had the sketch in my pocket for a while. Work got busy, and I got distracted with other projects and deadlines.  Mid-December crept up and I had not done anything. The main thing was to make a big design so I could transfer it to the canvas. 

Since I didn't have any big drawing paper, I rubber cemented some legal size sheets of paper, and sketched a bigger design. 


Working at home, outside on the deck, was a bit distracting too.  The cat decided to "occupy" the banner. This protest was very effective, since I fed her right away. 
Then I took a charcoal pencil, very soft, like a 6B or maybe a 4B and filled in the letters and outlines of the letters on the BACK side of the drawing. The idea is to flip the paper over, and trace over the letters with a nonworking pen or other pointed tool.  I wasn't sure this technique would work, but it did. It was messy and I had charcoal all over my hands and face, and had to add more charcoal on the back where I had missed sections, and then retrace several times. The transfer paper would have been a lot easier!

The transferred design is very faint, but visible enough.
I felt like painting in the date first. 

Painting outside on the deck of the jungalow, while wandering bugs and spiders flit across the banner. I had a slanted work surface so the painting itself wasn't difficult.

The garden council was still checking up on me... The fundraiser was making us all nervous. After getting a two week extension, it was now January and it was time to give the banner up. Saundra was eager to work on the banner, but scheduling time to meet was difficult. Most of my time painting was late at night with the moths fluttering.  


The tricky part was painting over the  ridges from where the canvas was folded.  Do not fold the canvas and leave it folded up!  Roll it up, so there are no ridges to deal with. 

Added some blue sky and clouds to the background, mixed the green and yellow to get a lighter shade of green. This was free paint from Community Work Day's paint recycling program.  It's awkward to use in big cans, so transfer paint to glass bottles first. 

I tried doing blue lettering for Silent Auction & Fundraiser, but the contrast was terrible. I hadn't painted a bird, pineapple, rainbow or seed packet, and was reluctant to add more things, but at least it was painted, more or less.

On the way to the garden to turn in the banner and do any final touch up, I stopped at Upcountry Fine Art again. Pam Neswald was invaluable again and said the contrast could be stronger by outlining some letters and darkening the color on the existing letters. She cautioned against adding rainbows, pineapples and birds which could make the design look too busy.  This is another reason why I'm so fond of this store, and yes, I did buy some other paint and supplies there, like a spray mister which I used to keep the paint from drying too fast. 

L Maui Gardener was drafted into painting and outlining letters
 for more contrast. 

The finished banner. I broke down and added extra elements, despite Pam's warnings. I didn't add a pineapple or the seed packets, but felt a strong urge to stick a bird on the top and some taro leaves, seedlings and a
mini rainbow.

The fundraising night is this Valentine's Day at Flatbread in Paia.
Bring a date or be prepared to flirt with other garden supporters. 


  1. Thank you for writing this! Our organization is doing a benefit night at flatbread and I has no clue how to start the banner. Great tips! Inspired me to complete it today! Thanks!

  2. Great! I hope your fundraiser was a success! Mahalo for stopping by!


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