This is going to be my last Christmas project to share with you, sniff sniff. I think I saved the best for last though my Nordic gnomes take a close second.
I had been wanting a nativity set for years but the ones I kept finding were either pricey, kitschy or worse, both. I wanted something simple, modern and not fragile as we tend to move quite a bit. Since we have kids I didn’t want anything too precious either. These dolls can easily be handled so kids can have a sensory learning experience.For this DIY nativity, I used seven 3″ wooden dolls, one 2″ wooden doll, one 1 1/8″ wooden doll, one 1.5″ wooden ball, two 1″ balls, one small wooden bowl, cardboard, chopsticks, toothpicks, acrylic paints, felt, a brown paper bag and a hot glue gun. I had originally intended to make the barn out of plywood after making a prototype out of cardboard but I have been juggling so many different crafts (and the cardboard one turned out just fine) I decided to stick with the cardboard for the time being.I started by sketching what I wanted to paint. I think I really improved my techniques for painting on three dimensional wooden surfaces since painting my nesting dolls. The key here is to think in layers. One thing that also helped was writing the name on the character on the bottom. Cause when you are painting in layers everything starts by looking pretty nondescript. I also sanded the bottom of the balls (which became a donkey and sheep) to keep them from rolling all over the place.This what things looked like after my first layer of paint.
I decided that baby Jesus needed a MCM bullet style manger. Probably (okay, definitely) not the most historically accurate depiction but man am I crushing on those MCM bullet planters right now! And with their price tags I need to get this obsession out of my system.I cut off the ends of two takeout chopsticks (who knew I would go through my whole supply of takeout chopsticks at Christmastime of all seasons?).Then I glued them to the bottom and later painted them white.To make the barn, I cut out pieces of cardboard and hot glued them together. I topped it off with a little star made of toothpicks.Pretty fun, right? Are you sort of feeling the MCM vibe seeing it all together now? For manger filling I crumpled up some brown paper bag shreds but I’m sure some of the store bought crinkle stuff will cycle through us during all the gift giving later this week and I can upgrade.I had another shepherd boy but my son wanted to make a baby Jesus, too. He’s been collecting lint out of the dryer’s lint trap for weeks making a soft bed for his baby Jesus. Yeah, I get it. Brown paper bag crumples don’t scream comfort.One of the surprising challenges of this project were the paint colors. I think I painted Mary’s dress three times just trying to get that perfect shade of blue.
One difference between this painted wood project and my last one is that I painted on the faces instead of drawing them on with a permanent marker. I turned my paint brush upside down, dipped the handle in paint, and dotted the eyes. I think it’s an improvement overall.I glued some felt wings on the angel. I wanted to add a fake gold ring for a halo but I also didn’t want to make her too ornate to draw attention away from the other characters.The wise men were also difficult to paint. I wanted the set to be muted overall but after I painted on their robes they looked pastel so I repainted them in more saturated tones. Not sure if I’m sold on these yet.
And while we’re on the topic of wise men can I just have a mom moment here?My four-year-old was one of the wise men in his school’s play and my heart near exploded from cuteness overload! The hat was a bit too big so he spent most of the play adjusting it and keeping it out of his eyes. Okay, mom moment over.And here is the shepherd, his son, a donkey (I think I may have put his eyes on his snout…) and their sheep. True to form, one of the sheep went missing sometime between taking these photos and getting the nativity set over to the entry for display. It probably rolled off somewhere. I guess I was right needing that additional shepherd’s son to attend to the flock!I hope the shopping is done and things are starting to wind down for you if they haven’t already. I’ll be back on Thursday to roundup all the crafts I’ve shared this month and to share a few snapshots of my holiday decorations. Have a lovely holiday week!
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