A nativity scene, also known as a creche, is a traditional decoration showing familiar characters from the Christmas story. The nativity scene usually shows Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, flanked by the three wise men, a group of shepherds and a number of farm animals. Nativity scenes range from elaborate works of art to simple scenes made from household materials. Creating nativity figurines is a fun Christmas activity that can be done by both adults and children.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
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Things you need
- Polymer clay in various colours
- Sculpting tools
- Cyanoacrylate glue
- Balsa wood
- Craft knife
- Wood glue
Roll balls of polymer clay into spheres to create the heads of your nativity characters. Make the head of baby Jesus smaller than the others. You can indicate the foreign origins of the three wise men by making their heads from different-coloured clay.
Create bodies for the characters. The easiest way to work with polymer clay is to make each shape individually and then stick them together. For instance, you might create a cone shape to represent a person wearing a long robe or dress, then add arms of the same colour made from sausage shapes of clay. Shape the clay with your fingers or with sculpting tools. Sculpting tools don't have to be elaborate; simple tools like coffee stirrers, toothpicks and craft knives can be very useful.
Embellish your models with details. Make these from thin sheets of appropriately-coloured polymer clay cut to shape. Beards and cloaks for the men, crooks for the shepherds and crowns for the three kings are all great accessories. A swaddling cloth for Jesus can be made from a thin sheet of white clay.
Bake the models in the oven. Polymer clay normally cures in about 20-30 minutes at 130 degrees, but follow the instructions on the packaging if you are unsure.
Reattach any limbs or accessories that have fallen off. Cyanoacrylate glue, commonly known as superglue, creates a strong bond with polymer clay.
Cut a chunk of balsa wood for your crib using a craft knife. The crib should be larger than your Jesus figurine. Hollow out a section in the centre; the wood is very soft, so use light pressure on the knife. If you want to make your crib a little more elaborate, cut separate legs and attach them with wood glue.
Tips and warnings
- If you are making figurines together with a child, never allow them to use craft knives, glue or the oven unsupervised.
- When working with a craft knife, use light pressure and a sharp blade. Make all cuts away from you.
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