Thursday, June 15, 2017

More Greco Roman Decor

Just a mish-mash of cool Greco-Roman decorating pics from various churches doing Holy Land VBS.

Pictures by Jill Bettinger

Picture by by Jill Bettinger - Mural by Tiffany

Picture by Michelle Barrera from 
Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX) 

Picture by Michelle Barrera from 
Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX) 

Picture by Michelle Barrera from 
Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX)

Picture by Michelle Barrera from 
Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

How to Make A "Tile" Roof

If you looked out Greece and Rome, you would see, in many places, a sea of tile rooftops.   It was the same in ancient time.   So many of the buildings in ancient Greece and Rome, as today, had red tile roofs.

I wanted to include at least a little of this when we did Rome VBS, and I found the easiest way was pretty simple:  red construction paper.   It was simple, cheap...and not unreasonably time consuming, though that would depend on the area you wanted to cover.    It was much easier than cutting up and painting paper cups or oatmeal cannisters...some of the other materials I had considered. And the matte texture of construction paper is actually close to the look of real roofing tiles.

Here is a picture of our small tile roof.  I had meant for it to go on a portion of slanted roof...but alas, it ended up getting put up straight up and down.   Still, it didn't turn out badly.

And below is a close up of how we made it...

To make the roof tiles I stapled red paper at a curve to black paper (12" x 18" for both, not 9" x 12").   If you stagger the paper you can keep going up to make more rows.

It actually would have been a little easier if I had made this more accurately, because most ancient Roman tile roofs had a flat space between each curved tile, like these ancient Roman tiles below....

So an ancient tile roof would have looked a little more like this....

Picture by Wolfgang Sauber licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.

More VBS Rome Resources and Ideas

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Greco-Roman Decor: Fountains

Having a fountain is a great way to bring in Greco Roman Decor.   Below there's see some examples of how other churches have done it and some links to other sites showing other ways to do it.

Make a 3D Fountain

There are several ways to make a three dimensional fountain (some working, some merely decorative). 

This looks difficult, but impressive.

Please excuse the "beer" in this one...but yeah, it's a great idea, and with a little spray paint on the outside could look like stone.

Stacked Planters and Tinsel

Picture by Michelle Barrera from 
Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX)

I love this ides...planters and tinsel, stacked, and you have a fountain.  

 Borrow a Fountain

Fountain Statue Borrowed From I-35 Statuary

We were blessed at our church to be able to borrow several statues from a nearby statuary, including the one above, which doubled as a fountain.  We had a tub underneath it which we surrounded by stones and greenery.

Something simpler, like a bird-bath, could work too in a pinch, and is something one of your church members might have and be willing to lend.

Make sure you have a good safe means to transport anything you borrow.   We asked about a multi-tiered fountain but there were concerns about being able to transport and assemble something like that without it breaking (and of course there's always the concern about kids knocking things over, so be careful about where and how you set up anything borrowed).  

Make a 2D Fountain

A two dimensional fountain can be stunning too.  Check out the examples below.

Picture by Michelle Barrera from 
Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX)

I love how just adding a little tinsel gives a flat drawing a three dimensional feel.

This fountain was painted by a lovely and talented woman at our church.   It was on cut plywood, to allow us to store it and re-use it later.  


Saturday, May 20, 2017

Decor: Making "Pottery"

Michelle Barrera let me use lots great pictures of how her church, Teaching Word Faith Center (Fort Worth, TX) decorated for Athens VBS several years back. Here is how they made large pots.

You can see the bases of the vases
are made of cardboard and duct-tape
which is then covered with paper mache.

They then covered the vases with plaster 
(At least, I think that's plaster).

The greenery really looks stunning on these.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Colonnade Gallery

Some pictures of colonnades from various churches doing Holy Land Athens or Rome Vacation Bible School.

From Vineyard Church in Hopkinton, MA taken by Areli Biggers

From Faith Baptist Church

From Snowd Branch Church

Picture by Jennifer Mounce 

TIP:  How to Create Depth

If you are making a colonnade on a stage you can create depth and and add an illusion of a larger scene by starting with taller columns and then using descending smaller columns, set at an angle like the picture on the right...continuing the colonnade with a backdrop with painted columns at the back.   You'll notice that in many of the colonnades above.

(The drawing at right is by cdevries, who writes a number of wonderful articles on theater design. It was from a section on 3 More Ways to Improve Your Theater Set about creating depth. Used with permission.)

Made from large cardboard box, with roof added
Picture by Michelle LaFlamme

From Dayspring Baptist Church

Pictures by Michelle Barrera
From Teaching Word Faith Center  in Fort Worth, TX

Learn more about how to make columns here.

More VBS Rome Resources and Ideas.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Greco-Roman Decor: Statues

Both Greece and Rome were full of statues...statues of gods and goddesses, statues of prominent individuals, statues of animals, etc. When Paul visited Athens he spoke to them about the many idols they had and tried to point them away from these false gods towards Christ.  In his letter to the Romans he dealt with the issue of whether a Christian could eat food that had been sacrificed to idols.

Of course, statues are generally too costly to buy just for a week at VBS. But there are other ways to include them in your decor...

Borrow Them
You can often find garden and statuary shops willing to lend out their statues. And of course you can ask your church members for loans of any garden statues or suitable figurines they may have.  

Rent Them
Wedding and party rental companies may have statuary and columns that you can rent for a reasonable price.

Make Them
Below you can find a few method on how to make a "faux marble" statue.

3D Print a Statue

Photo by Emelie Howard

The statue above was printed on a 3D printer.  Depending on the size of the printer you can even print much larger pieces.  Here is a list of just a few of the statue plans available (I believe most of these are free/open source).  You can find other items, like Roman helmets, costume items, styluses, etc. too.

Make a Plaster Statue

 Jefferson Park Baptist in Charlottesville, VA. Photo by Sherri States.

Here's a very inexpensive way to create a Roman Bust, . The statue above is a styrofoam wig form mounted on a lid box with two coat hangers to hold it in a place, an old white T-shirt and cloth wrapped around covered in plaster of Paris. You can find a full tutorial on how to do this here.


You don't have to stop with busts. Anything can be covered in plaster to make a statue. The horse statue at right (also by Jefferson Park Baptist) was made by

Actually, you don't have to stick with white either. New research has show that statues in both Greece and Rome were originally painted! Centuries of exposure wore off the paint, so that what we find today is white marble...but 2,000 years ago the statues were actually quite colorful.

Whether you want to go with the traditional marble look or try for some authentic color, is up to you. You can also make a similar affect with paper-mache and paint.

Here is an example of how one church made a a duct tape form for a plaster torso...

You can see how well this comes out on top of a column.   The method looks pretty self-explanatory, but there's a step by step tutorial here.  You would want to make sure to have a good disposable layer between tape and skin (here it looks like they used a t-shirt or cloth of some another example I saw plastic wrap used).  I'm pretty sure they had to cut him out of that, and then tape it back up and fill it with paper or some other filler before plastering.
(Thanks so much to Michelle Barrera for these great pictures from Teaching Word Faith Center  in Fort Worth, TX!)

One last method which I don't have any photos for, but which is really cool, is to use spray foam for a statue medium

Recruit a Human Statue

Dayspring Baptist Church, Waco, TX

Another fun idea is to have a human sculpture. Other than make-up and clothes, there's no cost involved, though it does require a volunteer.

Two ladies from our church did an excellent job as human statues. You can see one of them in the picture above. They covered their hair in a white cloth, wore a white tunica, and covered all exposed skin with white stage make-up. You can find some tutorials on how to make 1st Century Roman women's clothes here, and men's clothes here.

Most of the time our statues stayed perfectly still, but once in a while they would break their pose a little to interact with the kids in a subtle way. The kids just loved this!

I have also seen a version where the actor wraps a column around him to make himself into a human "bust." You can find the tutorial for that here.

Draw a 2D Statue

 Photo by Michelle Barrera, from
Teaching Word Faith Center  in Fort Worth, TX

A two dimensional statue can also be a nice touch, especially in a hallway or other space where you might not have room for a three-dimensional one (plus, butcher paper is cheep!).   If you don't want to hand-draw a statue, you can find an image of one online, put it on a 3D projector (ask schools for loans if your church doesn't have one), and trace a statue on butcher paper from the projection.

Make a Cardboard Statue

 Faith Baptist Church

I can't tell you how to make this, but I can tell you it was made out of cardboard.  It was too cool not to share.