Willow Creek Community Church's 2009 Christmas services were entitled God With Us. The production theme was going to have a found object feel incorporating paper chains throughout the stage and service. We wanted to make sure the design of the communication and marketing matched this feel and set out to create handmade work that would be photographed. To be able to achieve the results we needed for the amount of work we had to do in a short period of time, I brought in Britt Smiley of Britt Leigh Design and Photography to assist me.
I came up with the idea to build an actual Christmas tree out of paper chains. I drew a very simple sketch to show how we could build it by having the chains connect at the top and then pulled out and secured with fishing line to give the shape. We would use different shades of green paper to give depth and then wrap the tree in a chain matching the color palette chosen for the production. I asked Britt to build a small model to discover how many sections, how many branches, and how many links to each chain before we try to build at full size. She built the model that showed us the idea could work and we used it to get sign off to proceed. Britt then went about the task of assembling each branch. We went into the studio and she and I constructed the tree over a two day period. Britt photographed the tree and we masked out the background and removed the fishing line from the photos. Britt used the finished image for the communication pieces needed.
I am indebted to Britt Smiley for helping to make this concept come to fruition. I feel we achieved our goal of creating a piece that reflected the handmade theme but still had a unique and fresh feel.