Paper Mache Nativity

Paper Mache Nativity
A couple of years ago I made this little ghost family for Halloween, and when I displayed them I immediately thought, “That looks almost like a spooky nativity.” This year seemed like the time to revisit that idea, but take a little of the spookiness away.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 1
You’ll need a couple of styrofoam cones at different heights, and a couple of bricks of paperclay. Rub a thin layer of paperclay into the styrofoam cone to take away the bubbly foam texture.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 2
This next part might seem the most intimidating, but I promise it’s not insurmountable. To make the head, roll a ball of paperclay with your hand. The size will depend on the height of the styrofoam cone you’re using. You just need it to be proportional. For mine, it was about 3 inches tall and two inches wide. Blend the clay from your head into the clay on the cone to stick the head in place.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 3
If you are a fabulous sculptor, I’m sure you can do way better than I did with my faces. But as I am not a fabulous sculptor, I made a rudimentary face by pinching the clay up to make a nose, and then pressing my pinky finger where the eyes would be to make eye sockets.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 4
I made a baby Jesus in a similar way by rolling an oval out of the clay, then pinching up the edge of a blanket.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 5
When you get your family all made up, let them dry thoroughly.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 6
After a day to dry and a thorough sanding, suddenly you’ll be a whole lot more impressed with your sculpting skills. You could just stop right here if you want something cool and modern looking, or…

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 8
You could paint your nativity. I painted the clothes a color that would match the scrap of fabric I had for a tunic.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 9
To add the clothing, cut a circle just barely big enough for the head out of the middle of a rectangle of fabric. Use hot glue to keep it in place if necessary.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 10
Use more hot glue to bring the edges of the rectangle together and secure to the body, to make the illusion of arms.

Paper Mache Nativity Tutorial Step 11
Another scrap of fabric glued over the head for a scarf, and, for Mary, bring her wing-like arms to the front and glue to the front holding Baby Jesus.