Paper Twist Nativity

Paper Twist Nativity
Sometimes having your friends and neighbors know you as a crafter is a bit taxing. People ask for favors that are way more time consuming than they realize, they offer to pay you pennies for something that took you months to make, they think they’re being supportive by volunteering you for things you have no time to do. And yet, sometimes it really pays off. Such as when a friend decides to clean out their craft cabinet and give you all their supplies. I’ve been given tubs of paint from former tole painters, fabric from failed sewers, and this time, yards of paper twist from someone who couldn’t remember why she bought it in the first place.

My mother-in-law Sally is a nativity collector like me, and she has a gorgeous nativity made out of paper twist. She made it even more fabulous by styling it in a beautiful basket, so I figured I’d use my gifted paper twist to make something like the nativity set I’d been admiring for so many years.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 1
To make the foundation for your figure, go to the unfinished wood aisle of your craft store and pick up a 12″ dowel, a 2″ wheel, and a 1 1/2″ ball topper. Make sure that all of the holes are the same size so that the dowel can fit inside the holes of the wheel and the ball. Attach them together with a little wood glue.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 2
Paint a man face and a lady face on the balls. I’m not by any stretch a great painter, but part of the charm of this is a primitive look, so don’t be afraid to try. Check youtube for some simple illustration tutorials if you want a little more hand holding.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 3
For a Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, here’s what paper twist you’ll need:
Natural or flesh colored: 4′
Peach: 9 1/2′
Rose: 9 1/2′
Baby blue: 27″
Dk Green: 27″
White: 24″

Unwrap all of the paper twist. To give it a fancier look, lightly glaze with watered down gold acrylic paint and let it dry.

Cut two 12″ pieces of the natural colored paper twist in half. Cut a piece of wire just under 12″ and roll the paper twist tightly around it. Glue the ends down.

Cut a 10″ piece of the peach and the rose to make a set of sleeves for Mary and for Joseph. Glue the edges of the long sides together to create an open tube.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 4
Thread the arms through the sleeve, pinch it in the middle, and use hot glue to fix it the the dowel to create the arms.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 5
Cut eight 10″ pieces out of the peach for Joseph and of the rose for Mary. Wrap each piece, one at a time, around the dowel at waist level, hot gluing as you go.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 6
Glue one end of a 12″ piece of natural colored twist to the back of the arms and wrap it in a figure 8 shape around the neck and the waist. Build it up to make a chest in proportion to the head and skirt, and glue the other end down.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 7
Cut a 24″ piece of peach for Joseph and rose for Mary, then cut each piece down the middle lengthwise. Lay each piece over one of the shoulders to make the bodice. Glue under the armpits to hide the chest, and wrap a piece of gold wire around the middle to make a belt.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 9
For Mary’s scarf, cut an eighteen inch piece and a nine inch piece of baby blue paper twist. Cut the same measurements out of dark green for Joseph. Glue one end of the shorter piece to the back of Mary’s head.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 10
Glue the middle of the longer piece to Mary’s forehead.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 11
Then bring the rest of the paper to the back, fold to make it look like it’s draping, and use hot glue to keep it in place.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 12
Baby Jesus’s head is a small wooden bead with a couple of little closed eyes painted on, then wrapped and wrapped and wrapped in the white paper twist. Use hot glue to secure the head in place and to stick the end of the paper to the back.

Paper Twist Nativity Tutorial Step 13
That wire we put inside the arms allows us to bend Mary’s arms forward to hold Baby Jesus. Hot glue baby to Mary’s chest, and then use more glue to keep her arms in position.

I finished my set off by displaying them in a basket, but the wooden wheel on the bottom allows these little figures to stand up on their own. I had enough paper twist to make two sets of this little family, so I thought it would make a great Christmas gift for one of my readers! Leave a comment and I’ll draw a winner on Christmas Eve, and this little family could be part of your celebration next year.