by Modar Neznanich

Need a quick, inexpensive means to create heraldic display? Try this procedure to make banners. It can also be easily adapted to make fighting surcoats, cloth shield covers, etc.

This all came about because I wanted my group to have more Heraldic Display at events/functions of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism). But before I could encourage my group to do more heraldic display, I first needed people to have devices from which to make the display. So, I offered to make a banner for anyone who registered a device. Well, that started a "landrush" of people registering devices. Now I had to produce the banners. The procedure that follows is what I came up with. I purchase the fabric, line the device in, the group pays for the paint, then schedules a "painting day" and everyone comes and works on everyone's devices. This has had a couple of good impacts on the group. First, as things stand now, over 95% of our group (of about 50) has a registered device or one in the submission process. Second, it has brought the group together. It is an opportunity to sit and talk while painting, get to REALLY know each other, and feel good about others because they're working on something for you.

The list of materials, plus the step-by-step procedure:



White fabric, middle or heavy weight. Needs to be at least 60% cotton. White canvas, duck, or poplin works well. Having some polyester in it, helps it avoid wrinkling, but as cotton "takes the paint" the best, 100% cotton works excellently.

If the material is 45" or more wide, a yard is enough. If it is less than that, I would recommend a yard and a half. (This is based on making them the size that we are.)

A matching amount of backing material is also needed.


There are a couple of choices.

Acrylic - Looks good. Resists the weather and is easy to locate. Wal-Mart has a series of acrylic paints in tubes called Basics. These are very inexpensive but are good for getting the white, yellow, blue, red and black. The green in this series is not a heraldic green. I would recommend purchasing either a tube of Liquitex acrylic in the correct shade of green or bottles of the Liquitex craft paint called Christmas Green. Purple is the most difficult, and most expensive color to obtain. Liquitex acrylic is the easiest source to find.

Latex - An outdoor latex house paint will resists the elements VERY well, paints onto the cloth very well and is easy to obtain in large amounts (for doing several banners) as you can buy it by the quart. The important thing is to be sure that you are getting true heraldic shades of the colors. Note: Most hardware stores will mix paint to the shade you want, usually at no extra cost. You merely have to buy a quart of it. If your group (or several individuals) goes in to buy this, the cost comes out to be very cheap per person.

Other materials needed:

Paintbrushes. Several in various sizes from very small, up to 1" wide are useful. Some should be straight, flat edged.

Paint thinner/brush cleaner.



Flat working surface, such as table, floor, etc.

Sharpies, permanent black magic markers (fine point).

Plastic sheets (dry cleaning bags or garbage bags cut apart work well as do old shower curtains).

Clear Acrylic Spray (used for crafts)

Access to an overhead projector, or opaque projector (or a good artist).

**If using a projector, you will also need:

Copy of device:

Paper copy of device for opaque projector

Transparency copy of device for overhead projector.

(I can produce either of these via my computer and printer. If you cannot do transparencies, most copy shops can do one for you from a line drawing for around 75 cents apiece.)

Masking Tape

A room that can be made dark and has a clear, flat wall.



T-Shirt Liner Paint (at least black, white & yellow also useful)



Step One is to pencil the device onto the fabric. If you are an artist or have access to one, draw the device with pencil onto the fabric in the size you want, then proceed to step two.

If you are not an artist, or do not have one to help, you can draw the device with the help of a projector. Using masking tape, the banner cloth is taped to the wall. A picture of the device is projected onto the material (with the use of a picture projector and the copy of the device) in the darkened room, in the size desired.. The device is traced onto the material with the use of the pencils and the yardstick.

Proceed to step two.

Step Two begins with placing the material on a table (or floor) with plastic beneath it. DO NOT USE PAPER. (When/if paint bleeds through the fabric, the paper will adhere to the cloth and be bonded to it, refusing to come off.) The pencil lines are gone over with the black permanent markers (correcting any pencil mistakes).

Proceed to step three.

Step Three consists of painting the banner. This seems straightforward, but occasionally people forget some basic guidelines. Remember to take your time. Work the paint into the fabric as you coat it. Use different size brushes, as needed, to get into small areas.

Plan on doing a second painting session after the first coat of paint dries. This second session will allow you to discover and cover any missed spots, light spots, or streaky areas that can occur and only show up after drying occurs. (Once the first coat dries, hold the material up to the light or sun. Missed or light spots will show up easily.)

Do not skimp on paint or water it down to make it go farther. If you do, it will tell in the finished product.

Proceed to step four.

Step Four is OPTIONAL.

Once dry, the lines on the device (except the outside edge of the escutcheon/shield) are gone over with the

T-Shirt liner. This leaves a raised line of demarcation that gives a more 3-D look to the banner. This is also good for filling in the lines on dark charges (particularly black ones) if you use the white or yellow liner.

Proceed to step five.

Step Five is done when the banner, and any lining, is dry. It should now be sprayed with the clear acrylic spray. No matter what paint used, this is a good idea. It gives an extra layer of weather protection to the banner and helps keep the paint from chipping with use and wear.

If desired, the back of the material can be sprayed also, for additional protection.

Proceed to step six.

Step Six consists of sewing on the backing and loops for hanging the banner. There are various methods for

doing this depending on the type of banner you are producing. Our style consists of having loops at the top

through which a pole may be inserted. To do this, we place the backing material onto the front (painted side) of the banner. The backing is pinned down and sewn along all sides (EXCEPT THE TOP). Once this is done, the material is trimmed as needed, then turned "right-side-out", and pressed. Then loops are made from the extra cutoff material. These loops are then inserted between the pieces of material that make up the front of the banner and the backing piece, and pinned down. The top edge is then sewn, sewing the loop into place.

This finishes the banner.

I hope this info helps. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Baron Modar Neznanich, CLM, CSH, CT, CCC

1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 Ron Knight / Modar Neznanich

Permission to Print.

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