A life-size nativity scene is a bold Christmas decoration that is sure to catch the eye of passersby. It can also be fun to create, if a little tricky and time-consuming. How much time is necessary depends upon how many figures you wish to create. It may be a good idea to employ other people, particularly for the papier-mache process, because this will save time and will also be an entertaining way for everyone to spend time together during the Christmas period.
Form the wire into cagelike, three-dimensional figures of animals and people. Fashion them in the desired poses. Use pictures of real animals and people or other nativity scenes if necessary to help shape them convincingly. Remember that unless you plan to make real cloth clothes later, you have to form the figures as if they were wearing clothing.
Stuff the wire frames with polyester fill to give the figures roundness.
Wrap the hole frame in cloth strips to make a smooth, even surface. The figures may end up looking kind of like mummies. Use hot glue to secure the cloth strips.
Mix papier-mache paste in the large bowl by mixing water and white flour. The consistency should be a little more watery than glue.
Dip the newspaper strips in the papier-mache paste and saturate them completely. Lay them one by one on the figures and papier-mache the whole surface of each figure.
Allow the figures to dry, and then papier-mache another layer onto the figures. Repeat the layering process until the surfaces of the figures appear to be strong and solid. This may be three to four layers. It is not necessary to heavily layer the finer features of the figures, such as fingers or faces. However, the head, legs, arms and torso should be well layered for strength.
Lay the figures flat and spray paint the figures white using the white spray paint. Use a disposable covering to protect your work area during the painting and papier-mache process to avoid a mess.
Paint the figures' features, skin tone, and clothing using the acrylic paints. Allow to dry.
Spray clear coat over every figure. Allow to dry and repeat.
Glue details such as beads and jewels onto the figures to make them more elaborate. You could also try gluing on real cloth to make their clothes, and you could even glue wigs on their heads to make their hair.
Spray the paint and clear coat in a well-ventilated area and avoid breathing in any paint fumes.