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I am going to be making a cross for a church. Does anyone know if there are standard width to height proportions? Or if you've made any, what did you use?
Jim Tolpin just did a small writeup on The Lost Art Press blog about this:
In Christian churches, there is a 3 to 2 ratio.
I did one last year for a client. It was based on the Assissi cross in Italy. As Josrph stated, it had a 3:2 ratio.
Several years ago, we had an order for a cross designed by an architect. We used some 6” square Cedar for the two parts, and a big half lap. Height was about 10’.
Once it was complete, Tony, the resident muscle man, got under it and gave it a lift to move it to the complete work area. Well, it was a classic pose, and though no one meant to be sacrilegious, they encouraged him to carry it around the shop as the camera phones came out. He obliged, with a bit of the old Passion Play overplayed for laughs.
One nice young guy was offended and complained to me, as if I set it up.
There are many proportions and even shapes that are appropriate. It's always best to talk to the Liturgist and Priest/Minister, or parish design committee if there is one.
A classic Roman cross, for instance, is proportioned as if you unwrapped a cube: one square above, one in the center, one on each side, and two below. The cross shown above in the picture is another acceptable form. An Eastern Orthodox church would want one with two crossarms and a diagonal one below. The equal arm cross is used sometimes, and sometimes it is rotated 45° in honor of St. Andrew. Firemen use a variant of the Maltese cross, which is another equal arm cross. Crosses are one of those personal and specific items that go beyond approved forms, so there's also room for interpretation. It sounds like you don't know what you are doing, so discuss it first or you risk diluting the potency of the symbol and design integrity of the space.
This wikipedia article goes through some of the classic forms: