For the last three years we have been talking about replacing our older, smaller Nativity scene with a full size set. We bought the patterns two years ago but never got around to cutting and painting. This year we decided to go for it. It was the first of November when I decided to begin. What a mistake!
Carol, who is a good friend of ours, volunteered to do the painting. She has done wonderful things with ceramic but has never worked with wood. After all pieces had been primed on each side Carol painted the backside with a soft brown. She then began working with the many colors needed for the front. Each figure required 4 to 6 hours to paint.
Once a set was painted Carol applied sealer to protect the paint and to prevent discoloration. This process required three coats with 24 hours drying time between coats. The last coat required seven days to cure before the piece could be exposed to the weather. This was the longest part of the wait. Once sealed, the pieces had a nice gloss finish that really brought out the base colors.
Joseph and the one standing Wise Man are almost six feet tall each. This gives a good indication as to the size of this project. I had totally miscalculated the time and effort that is needed to do this. First, It took almost 15 hours to cut the figures out of twelve 4'x8'x3/4" plywood. Then it all had to be sanded. The various paint colors had to be ordered and all boards primed before any top coating could begin.
Of course, no Nativity Scene is complete without a stable. The pattern for the stable that came with the set called for a flat piece of plywood. We wanted to add some depth to our display. I had some treated lumber that had weathered and gave the appearance of old barn wood. I built the framework from this wood and added the old wood siding I had taken off our barn during it's renovation to use as the back wall. Once completed, the stable looked as though it was many years old and complimented the other pieces.
Although this project has been the largest part of our display to build and took much time and effort, it was fun to work on and totally adds to the meaning of Christmas in our yard. There have been many comments on the scene in just the first few days and it appears as though this will be the highlight of the display.
Thanks, go to my wife Rosanne and daughter Melissa for their help moving some of the bigger pieces and assisting with the layout.
A super big thank you to our friend Carol who spent many hours working at the last minute to get this done. She is the true meaning of the word "Friend".