Uplifting Umbrellas

Be An Uplifter!

Words have profound power to harm or heal our planet. It is our choice how we use them. In the new year of 2020, amidst a political climate of divisiveness and hostility, it is more important than ever to be aware of the words we choose.

The Women’s March on January 18th presents an opportunity to use our words mindfully. Let us look deeply into the motivations that cause us to use our words in impulsive, hurtful and even destructive ways. Let us choose to be intentional with the words we say and write—setting the tone for this march and for the coming year with kindness, love, compassion, tolerance and understanding.

I am one of a small group of women who will be carrying an Uplifting Umbrella at the Women’s March in Seattle, WA.  Five of us got together and created two umbrellas that prominently display positive words and images, reminding ALL of us to be more loving and kinder to each other. We chose the umbrella as an emblem of power and dignity. You can read more about the symbolism of Uplifting Umbrellas in my blog Positive Words for Positive Change.

We invite you to create your own Uplifting Umbrella and participate in a Women’s March near you. Beyond the upcoming march, we have a vision of Uplifting Umbrellas conveying positive messages in future rallies and marches, or providing shelter and ‘light’ on dark, rainy days. What if, by the next Women’s March in 2021, there is a sea of Uplifting Umbrellas carried throughout the country—inspiring connection, compassion, and confidence in the goodness of human beings?

Create Your Own Uplifting Umbrella.

The remainder of this blog offers suggestions for how to create an Uplifting Umbrella.
You can do this on your own or organize an Uplifting Umbrella Party, like the five of us did, to work together and have fun in the process. 

You will find below:
1. Recommendations for supplies:
umbrella, markers, stencils for letters, and graphics.
2. Challenges and solutions.
3. Suggestions for and examples of Positive Words.
Please refer to our next blog, Radical Compassion, for more suggestions.



  • Color: White, a universal symbol for peace. White is highly visible and provides an excellent background for lettering and images.
  • Type: Golf Umbrella. Golf umbrellas provide a large surface for graphics. They stand out in a crowd. 2 people can comfortably walk under them.
  • Size: Large – approximately 62″.
  • Fabric: Nylon, pongee (silk fabric often used for umbrellas), or polyester.

Google: white golf umbrellas.
Here are the two umbrellas we ordered from Amazon.

STROMBERGBRAND UMBRELLAS Large Golf Windproof Umbrella 62 Arc White – Polyester. $15.39.
The polyester fabric took the markers well; however, the stick-on stencils did not stick.

LEIGHTON 62″ Arc Manual Golf Fiberglass, White – Nylon. $23.94.
This umbrella has a wind flap, which you can work into your design. For example: symbols are on the flap, with the edge as a decorative border; words are at the bottom.


We discovered that permanent markers, fabric markers and acrylic paints all worked on the umbrella fabrics and are water resistant. We found Sharpies to be the best; they are easy to work with and the color is vivid. Expect markers to bleed a little. We used the fine point to outline and the chisel tip to fill in. On one umbrella, we used metallic acrylic paints and brushes to highlight.

Links to Amazon.

Sharpie Color Burst Permanent Markers, Fine Point 
24 colors (assorted). $11.97.

Sharpie Permanent Markers, Chisel Tip
4 colors (hot pink, lime green, light blue, purple). $5.07.

Sharpie Permanent Markers, Chisel Tip
8 colors (yellow, aqua, navy, blue, red, brown, black, slate gray). $6.93.


  • Tagboard or plastic stencils; stick-on letters (not for polyester).
  • Size: 2 – 4 inches.
  • Font: Easy to read at a distance.

Links to Amazon

Westcott LetterCraft Stencil, Nueva Font, 2-Inch Characters. $7.89.

Westcott LetterCraft Stencil, Nueva Font, 4-Inch Characters. $10.40.

Pacon 4″ Self-Adhesive Uppercase and Lowercase Letters, 154-Count, White. $11.98.


We used stencils for stars and hearts. Other good stencils to use are rainbows, flowers, and peace signs.
Amazon doesn’t have much to choose from, most are too small. Go to a fabrics or hobby store for a wider selection.

We drew other graphics free hand: Hands holding planet earth, a smiling sun, healing hands, a rainbow arrow pointing up. Any image that is uplifting and easily recognized from a distance works.


Writing and drawing on the surface of an umbrella is tricky! The fabric gives and the umbrella rolls. It takes a good dose of patience and mindfulness to stay with it. Below are some things we learned.

  • Work with a partner! Although one in our group created her umbrella solo, it is much easier to work as a team, with one person holding the umbrella steady as the other draws.
  • Wedge umbrella between furniture to hold in place.
  • To make the fabric more secure, place cardboard or tagboard behind where you are working. You or your partner can hold it in place, while you trace around stencils or draw and fill in color free hand. (Note: we tried making a cardboard pattern to fit the size of a panel. However, it was a hassle securing it and it stressed the spokes of the umbrella.)
  • Because the fabric is white, it is very easy to see through. You can create your words or design on tagboard and trace over it with a pencil or pen onto the umbrella. The tagboard also provides the same security mentioned above.
  • Let your ink set for at least 24 hours before you close up the umbrella. It will look dry, but it can still smear. 
  • Cost of materials to create your Uplifting Umbrella can add up. Another reason to team up and pool your resources.
  • Time involved was more than we anticipated. However, our initial gathering got us off to a good start. We completed the project on our own or with a partner.
  • Our process was organic. However, we all agreed that it would be helpful to sketch your ideas out before you begin to work on your umbrella.

3. Positive Words

In our media-saturated society, we need less information and more heart! Keep your messages simple and heartfelt. Choose words that are universally inspiring and uplifting.


  • The words need to be easily read from a distance. Use large letters – 2 to 4 inches. (The umbrella shown below: UPLIFT – 4″ letters, LISTEN DEEPLY – 2″ letters. The other umbrella, with flaps: all letters are 2 & 3/4″.)
  • Use single words or phrases of 2 or 3 short words.
  • Build your entire word, either with stick-on stencils, or trace the word onto tagboard, before you transfer it to the panel, using pencil first.
  • If you write directly onto the panel, draw a fine line with pencil to keep your letters straight.
  • Pencil does not erase; draw lightly.

Examples of Positive Words

Be Kind
Do Good
Listen Deeply
Speak Kindly
Think Globally

We the People
United We Stand
Everyone Matters
Protect Our Planet
Be the Change

Connect and Share!

We would appreciate your help by sharing this blog on your favorite media.
If you create your own Uplifting Umbrella, please share your experience and pictures.
We’d love to hear from you!