Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Handmade Wooden Nativity Tutorial

This post is a little different than my standard fare here at The Golden Seven, but it's something that I'm excited about sharing with you, so I hope you'll bear with me.   A couple of years ago I went to an Enrichment meeting where people shared their ideas for inexpensive handmade Christmas gifts.   I don't remember much else that was discussed that night, except for this idea from my friend, Becca Tippets.  She had had a relative serve a mission in Finland who had brought them home a nativity set.  She looked at it one day and decided that she wanted to try to recreate it herself.  Armed only with the idea of her own nativity she went to the craft store and figured out how to do it from scratch.   Although I'm not sure I ever would have thought to make my own in the first place, Becca's  creativity proved to be as amazing as everything else about her and her version not only turned out beautifully, but she had also typed up detailed instructions of how to make it and shared it with the rest of us.  That Christmas season, my sister and I  (mostly my sister) made several handmade Finnish nativity sets for gifts for family members. 

This year I decided to make one more set and take more detailed pictures along the way, so that I could create this step-by-step tutorial and share it here with you.   The directions are still mostly Becca's with some slight modifications and tricks added that we learned along the way.  

Keep in mind, that this can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be.  We made the full version, but you could make only the Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus for a very simple and inexpensive version. Or leave out one or more of the animals. We used a wooden clementine box as the stable, which didn't add any cost at all, but you could also use fabric draped over stacks of books!  Enjoy!  
Click here for PRINTABLE VERSION ( the text with only the basic pictures).

Directions by Becca Tippets
Pictures and adaptations by Lara Goold


SHOPPING LIST  (shop in the wood aisle of a craft store) 

Materials Needed
Which figure it belongs to
Amount (type of packaging)
cost
Small wooden goose eggs (about 3-inches tall)
Bodies of people and animals
10
2.29 per egg (x10)
1 ¼ inch doll heads
Heads of people, angel
7 (come in value packs of 9)
3.99 per bag
5/8 inch round wooden beads
Hands of Joseph, shepherd, and 1 wiseman; feet of angel
5 (come in value packs of 7)
1.69 per bag
3/8 in round wooden beads
Head piece for angel and Mary and tops of crown for wisemen, ears for one animal
25 (come in value packs of 71)
3.49 per bag
2 inch doll head
Body of angel
1
1.99 per head
Pullet eggs
Heads of animals
3 (come in pack of 3)
1.19 per pack
Robin egg half (or a very small oval paper mache box)
Manger
1 (comes in pack of 2)
1.19 per pack
Assorted wooden bowls or
1-inch wooden wheels
Crown piece for wisemen
3 biggest (come in pack of 9)
1.19 per pack
Acorn dowel cap (1-1/8-inch)
Present for wiseman
1 (come in pack of 2)
1.29 per pack
Boy game piece
Jesus
1 (comes in pack of 3)
1.29 per pack
¾ inch block
Present for wiseman
1 (comes in pack of 6)
1.29 per pack
Wooden ring (in the jewelry section) or a dark wooden letter “O” 1-1/2 inches
Hat for Joseph and shepherd
2 big rings (comes in assorted pack in jewelry)
3.99 per pack
Shell rings (in jewelry section) or light colored letter “O”
Horns for sheep
2 broken in half (comes in pack of 5 in jewelry)
3.99 per pack
.47 cm  or 3/16-inch wooden dowel
Attach heads and arms to body
1
.29
3 pieces of floral wire 6-7 inches long
Staff for Joseph, Shepherd, and 1 wiseman

 1.99
Yellow, purple, red, blue, white, brown, green paint
To color bodies

 .69 each color
Clear finish spray paint
(optional)
I used flat, but I think gloss would look better


wooden clementine box (for stable)
Total cost:  $56.77 (not including tools needed)


TOOLS NEEDED:

1.  drill
2.  7/32 drill bit
3.  hack saw
4.  wood glue
5.  hot glue gun
6.  wire clippers
7.  sander and sand paper

DIRECTIONS:


Joseph (green)
1.     Using 7/32 drill bit
a.     Drill hole in top of goose egg (to place head)
b.     Drill hole 1.5 inches down on the side (for arm)
c.      Widen the hole (with the drill) in 1 ¼ inch doll head
d.     Drill hole in 5/8 inch bead perpendicular to preexisting holes
2.     Paint whole egg (green)
3.     Cut  2 pieces of dowel about 1-inch long
4.     Put a dab of wood glue in all the holes
5.     Assemble head and body using dowel to connect the two
6.     Put the hand on using a dowel
7.     Cut a piece of wire and bend into candy cane shape to make a staff, put through hand hole
8.     Hot glue wooden donut ring (or dark colored wooden "O") to Joseph’s head


 



Mary (light blue)
1.     Using 7/32 drill bit
a.     Drill hole in top of goose egg (to place head)
b.     Widen the hole (with the drill) in 1 ¼ inch doll head
2.     Paint egg (light blue)
3.     Cut  1 piece of dowel about 1-inch long
4.     Put a dab of wood glue in all the holes
5.     Assemble head and body using dowel to connect the two
6.     String 10 of the 3/8 round beads into crown shape and glue onto head using hot glue



See pictures for Joseph for steps 1-5 (omitting drilling the second hole for a hand)
 

Wisemen (red, purple, yellow)
1.     Using Saw
a.     Cut bottom .5 inches off of each egg (3 times)
2.     Using 7/32 drill bit
a.     Drill hole .5 inches down from  top of goose egg (3 times) (to place the bowed heads)
b.     Drill hole 1.5-2 inches down on the side of one goose egg (for a hand)
c.      Widen the hole (with the drill) in 1 ¼ inch doll head
d.      Drill hole in 5/8 inch bead perpendicular to preexisting holes
3.     Paint each wiseman a different color (red, purple, yellow)
4.     Assemble each body and head with a 1- inch dowel
5.     Assemble hand on one body
6.     Glue acorn cap on belly of handless wiseman using hot glue (as a gift)
7.     Glue cube on body of belly of other handless wiseman using hot glue (as another gift) or drill a hole in body and cube and attach with wooden dowel



Angel (white)
1.     Using 7/32 drill bit
a.     Drill hole in round top of 2 inch doll head (to place head)
b.     Widen the hole (with the drill) in 1 ¼ inch doll head
3.     Paint large doll head  and the two 5/8 inch beads white
4.     Using wood glue and a 1-inch piece of the dowel assemble head and body
5.     Cut (two) 2.5 inch strings and thread them through the 5/8 inch beads, then glue them to the bottom back side of the body so that the legs swing down.
6.     Paint 10 of the 3/8 beads white
7.     Thread the 10 beads together and hot glue onto angel’s head (for halo)


 
I did not take any more pictures of the angel process, but suffice it to say it is similar to the rest of them, except for gluing the legs onto the bottom.


Shepherd (brown)
1.     Using 7/32 drill bit
a.     Drill hole in top of goose egg (to place head)
b.     Drill hole 1.5 inches down on the side (for arm)
c.      Widen the hole (with the drill) in 1 ¼ inch doll head
d.     Drill hole in 5/8 inch bead perpendicular to preexisting holes
2.     Paint whole egg (brown)
3.     Cut  2 pieces of dowel about 1 inch long
4.     Put a dab of wood glue in all the holes
5.     Assemble head and body using dowel to connect the two
6.     Put the hand on using a dowel
7.     Cut a piece of wire and bend into candycane shape to make a staff, put through hand hole
8.     Glue small piece of material (about 3-1/2 x 2-1/4-inch) to Shepherd’s head
9.   Glue wooden donut ring (or dark colored wooden "O") on top of material on shepherd’s head





Jesus (dark blue)
1.     Sand bottom of Robin’s egg so it lays flat on table
2.     Hot glue gun raffia on for straw
3.     Paint cylinder part of boy game piece (leave head plain) --dark blue
4.     Hot glue gun boy game piece on top of straw


Animals (sheep--white, cow--brown)
1.     Sand long side of egg so that when egg is lying down it can be stable, not rolling (3 times)  (we found this MUCH easier to do with an electric sander)
2.     Using 7/32 drill bit
a.     drill hole a little to the top of the egg center (3 times) (for the heads)
b.     drill hole in pullet egg towards the wide end of the egg on the side (3 times) (to connect the head)
3.     paint two animals white (heads and body)
4.     paint one animal brownish yellow (head and body)
5.     assemble heads and body using 1-inch pieces of dowel and wood glue
6.     break shell donut rings into thirds and use two pieces for horns (you’ll need 4 pieces altogether) on the white sheep hot gluing them into place
7.     use two of the 3/16 beads for the ears of the brownish animal (paint them the same color as the animal)

 

*SHOPPING NOTES: 
I shopped in the wood aisles at Michael's and AC Moore craft stores.  Almost all of the items were "Lara" brand (cool name, but nothing to do with me).  The selection and prices between the two stores was similar, but there were a few items that were at one store and not the other, so I do recommend trying two craft stores if they are available.  You can also try looking online.   We easily found everything on the list two years ago when we made these the first time, but this year (2012) we had trouble finding a couple of items.  I adjusted the directions accordingly and listed substitute suggestions (some of which we used), but please note that in future years (or at your craft stores) that you may need to find substitute items for things that are unavailable.   Use the pictures as a basis for your creativity.  

GLUING NOTES: 
Use wood glue for everything internal (in a hole) and hot glue for everything external (gluing on hats, halos, gifts, etc)

PAINTING NOTES:

After painting several different versions, I decided I liked it better when the wood grain would show through the paint slightly.  I usually used one coat of acrylic paint and/or sanded it lightly to give it a bit of a distressed look. 

A CLOSER LOOK:
Here is a closer look at some of the items we used, so that you can see what they look like: 
wooden goose eggs for most of the bodies (need 10)
1-1/4-inch doll heads for most of the figures' heads

1-1/8-inch acorn dowel cap (for wise man's gift)

2-inch doll head for body of angel
wooden wheel (on left) vs wooden bowl (not available this year)
for wise man's hats
figures in this post are shown with the wooden wheel as the hat

boy game pieces for baby Jesus
3/4-inch square block for wise man gift

for the sheep's horns (or use a light colored wooden "O")
for Joseph's and shepherd's head piece
this was one that we had a hard time finding this time around and couldn't
find a substitute item we liked as well.  The "O" was okay, but did not fit
on the heads as nicely.

If you can't find them at the store, try finding them at Amazon




2 comments:

Jocelyn Christensen said...

This is a really sweet nativity!

MARIAMMA K A said...


I loved your spiritual notings .Great to read .Thanks .