Nativity Display

There are so many ways to do a nativity display, but I have chosen one where hopefully younger children will have the opportunity to tell the nativity story. Children often comment that without baby Jesus and the three wise men there would not be any gifts. In light of their comments, I add the gifts and explain to them that Jesus is a King and therefore a crown is enough for Him.

The following items are required:

• Wood canvas to display the nativity play (you can paint it to fit in with your own colour scheme)
• Glue dots or double-sided tape to glue the objects to the inside of the wood canvas

How to do gilding?

The following items are required:

• Small wood objects to gild
• Dark red/black or brown dye ink or paint
• sheets of gold, silver or bronze leaf
• water-based size (glue for gilding)
• cotton gloves
• a pair of scissors
• good quality artist paintbrushes if you use paint
• small piece of velvet fabric
• water-based varnish
The method of how to make the nativity display:

1. Decide on which items you wish to gild. Colour the wood with dye ink. I like using the dye pads as they are non-messy, dry quickly and are very comfortable to hold while staining the wood. It takes about two hours to dry. I would suggest that you choose a dark colour like brown, black or red, for gold or bronze leaf and a light-coloured paint like white or yellow for silver leaf.
2. Use a clean small brush, apply evenly and with thin strokes across the entire surface of what you want to gild.
3. Allow the size to dry completely (refer to the manufacturer’s instructions on the container). It is important not to touch the size as it will mark. The best way to check the state of the size is to use the hair on the back of your hand: if you feel a slight pull, the size is ready.
4. You need to work in a draft free area before attempting to work with metal leaf. It is very important to wear a pair of cotton gloves when handling the leaf. Pick up a sheet of leaf along the tissue border, laying the foil against the size surface and pass your fingers very gently and slowly over the back of the tissue. The metal leaf is extremely fragile, so be very careful how you work with it. Repeat this process until the size area is completely covered. Cut smaller pieces of leaf for smaller areas and also to fill any gaps.
5. Don’t worry if small creases appear, using a paintbrush and gently brushing the size will brush the creases out.
6. If you are wanting a brighter surface, dab your foil-covered object lightly with a small piece of velvet fabric.
7. Sealing the gilt with varnish will help prevent it from tarnishing. Allow to dry.
8. You can now display the objects in the wood canvas. Once you are ready with your layout, put either glue spots where you want the objects positioned, or use small double-sided squares.
9. Your nativity play is complete and ready to tell the story of the birth of Jesus.

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