Sometimes, things just come together.
After working at Echo-Lit now for just over a year and a half, I’m becoming more accustomed to the rhythms of our year - when we are busy, when we have “down time” best used to create new products, when we are blessed with the kind of busy that leaves you drained at the end of the work day. “Holiday windows” had been a line item on my to-do list for months, I just hadn’t yet felt the push to sort it out; but when I started to feel the tinge of crisp in the air and seeing hints of gold at the edges of the leaves, I knew that it was time to start thinking about our holiday window display.
Back in late summer, I decided to re-read the Chronicles of Narnia. Working for Echo-Lit has really sparked a joy for re-visiting classic books of my younger years. I find myself looking for inspiration in the books that delighted me in my youth. I can remember reading the books as a little girl curled up in my Gran’s lap; and later sitting on the floor of my grade school gym with a few hundred other wiggly kids to watch Bill Melendez’s animated adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I can distinctly remember being so scared of both the Witch AND the Lion. I can also recall the collective relief my classmates and I felt when Aslan returned, banishing both the Witch and the eternal Winter she had brought to Narnia.
Inspiration works in funny ways. I have always said that I wish that I was paying better attention when the “a-HA!” moments happen. I think that those moments are so easily overshadowed by the rush of thoughts as the path ahead falls into place, that we forget to pay attention to how we got on the path to begin with. Luckily, this time, inspiration was delivered on a silver platter by a friend. Back in October, our friend Tara stopped by the shop to drop off a thank you gift to Echo-Lit Fearless Leader Chris Rice, and brought her two beautiful kiddos with her. While the kids were regaling us with tales of school and soccer, Tara asked me if I’d figured out our theme for the windows this year. I admitted that I was starting to think about it and feel the pressure, knowing how much time it would take for me to design, produce, and install the display; but the perfect idea hadn't coalesced yet. Then, just as matter-of-fact as you like, Tara said, “I think you should do Narnia this year.” Immediately, I knew she was right. I’d been reading the books, it was a perfect concept for a winter-themed display. Thanks, again Tara! You saved me a whole lot of time coming to the perfect and obvious conclusion! What was really interesting to me, was that as soon as Tara set my mind in motion, I saw references to Narnia EVERYWHERE. Memes, friends tossing random quotes at me (how often does one really encounter "do not cite the Deep Magic to me, Witch! I was there when it was written" in the wild, honestly?), Narnia just kept popping up randomly. I knew I was on the right path.
I got my inspiration for this year’s display images from a variety of fan art and foreign edition illustrations, then got to work creating images for print. A few days later, I was all a-whirl printing, mounting and trimming the illustrative elements of the display. When designing our window display, I try to focus on not only creating images, but creating a sense of depth. This year, I created a layered feel by painting some snow on the window itself; the forest trees of Narnia are represented by opaque window film and foam core cut in the shape of trees; additional layers of falling snow in the background were made of cotton ball snow chains, sheer white fabric, and LED lights at the back of the display. The gas lamp where Lucy first meets Mr. Tumnus was cut freehand from black matte board, and the flame is just a battery-operated votive light with a flicker function.
The quote on the door “open a door and enter a world” is a quote from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe that Jeanne helped me pick out. I'm really glad she found that one, because "Always Winter, never Christmas" just wasn't the vibe I was trying to pull off with my design.
As in years previous, our window display is part of the Charleston Area Alliance’s city-wide window competition. If you’d like to help us out with your vote you can do so here.