Parachute banners are powerfully visible and photogenic from above, from below, and from all over. A parachute helps to amplify messages and images, occupy space, add energy. It is fun for participants—especially kids—with parachute games. It can have the added benefit of sun & light rain protection.
STEPS TO PAINTING A PARACHUTE BANNER
Order a 24 foot white parachute–you can buy a 12 foot or 24 foot white “play” parachute on line–search google shopping for “Play Parachute” or “Color-Me Parachute” 12 foot (about $50) or 24 foot (about $100) white parachutes. They are available at PlayParachutes.com or S&S Worldwide.
Decide — What few words and what simple, clear image/s communicate some of your core message or story? What colors? TIPS: The more complex the image and the more/longer words you choose, the longer it takes to lay out and paint. Many of the parachute photos in media coverage are taken from below, with light shining through like stained glass windows, whether or not the words and images are clear. If you search/google “Parachute climate” or “parachute protest” you can see other designs and how they were photographed in the media.
FIND A BIG SPACE:
You’ll need a space big enough to lay your entire parachute out flat. If you’re parachute is 24’x’24’, that’s a pretty big space. You may have choose an outdoors space.
COVER THE FLOOR:
The paint will bleed through the parachute. You’ll need to protect the surface you chose to avoid leaving permanent artwork. You can buy sheets of plastic from a paint store or the painter’s section of any hardware store such as Home Depot.
Get a flat, ideally smooth place to lay it out and paint it. Needs to be at least 24 foot square (12 feet for smaller one) . Get plastic sheeting or tarps–enough to cover a 25 x 25 square. Get duct tape (Gorrilla tape in taping to concrete or blacktop) or 2 or 3 inch Scotch (quality) masking tape(for wood or linoleum indoor floors) to tape down–fully stretched out– to floor and and to each other. Then (duct or Gorilla) tape the parachute down so it’s flat w/out wrinkles. I tape under each black handle, starting at two spots on opposite sides w/ tape at each edge.
Sketch design: I sketch in pencil if needed, then draw using the color Sharpee of the image/paint color. TIPS: I use straight edge/stick for straight lines, and also count and use the 20 parachute seams to divide up the space evenly. I also make circles by making a string compas–putting a string with a loop in the exact center–have someone hold it with a marker or stick– and then draw the circles you need for the design with a pencil at the end of the length of string.
I buy bright strong colors of latex house paint or large (½-1 gallon) containers of acrylic. If paint is thick I thin it with about 1 part water to 3 parts paint, so it flows easily, but still covers solidly. I pour paint into quart- sized yogurt style containers and paint with both foam and bristle brushes of various sizes. I set paint containers on a piece of cardboard or box top and if I do drip, I wipe it off right away with a wet rag. Make sure to paint out any heavily painted areas where paint has pooled, so it will dry faster.
Let it dry completely–for as long as you can. For the first week try not to compress tightly or fold so paint is touching paint–roll it loosely and don’t compress until it’s a week old. The fresh paint can still be a little tacky and stick to itself.
Get some folks to practice before your public event and plan on parachute games. Practice pulling it taut so it’s perfectly flat and readable. Practice tipping the back side up to the holder’s chin and the front down to the ground, with the holders kneeling so it can be read (and photographed!) from directly in front. Try to get your photographer up high . . . on a ladder, wall, roof etc.
Add Climate Games by moving the parachute during your event:
- “Make waves for climate justice!” — make waves/ripples in the parachute.
- Rise up with the (people, earth, movement, climate justice, etc)!” — everyone lifts up. Have everyone count off 1-2, 1-2, etc — and while keeping the parachute up call out: “2’s trade places!” . . . then run under the parachute, taking each other’s places. You can have a short dance party in the middle.
- “Down with (Big Oil, fossil fuels, fracking, oil trains, oil/gas pipeline, etc)” Bring parachute edges to ground.
- Rotate to the left, rotate to the right, move to the middle–and back out!
- Throw an inflatable Earth ball (like a beach ball—make or buy online) and play Save the Earth!