11 January 2012

2011 CM7: Nativity Starters x 2

This project has been in the works for three years.  The first year, I decided to do it, but it stopped at the decision.  The second year, I made pipe-cleaner forms but that's as far as it got.  The project was beginning to feel like Narnia in the reign of the White Witch: always winter and never Christmas...an everlasting advent with no baby Jesus to culminate the season.  But this year, I was determined to get it to a giveable form, come what may.

So in between every other project on my December to-do list, I added a felted figure for this happy little set, a nativity for my pastor, Tim; his wife, Rama; and their girls Thais and Iela.  When Jason and I first moved up to Boston as newlyweds, they took us in and made us a part of their family: having us over to dinner, inviting us to family events, and generally loving on us.  The bond was solidified when I tutored Thais in pre-calculus during her junior year of high school, something I did gladly because Thais is like the little sister I never had...and I just love pre-calculus.

Over this past year, I haven't been able to see Rama and the girls as much as I have in the past.  Between taking care of Judah and all of the traveling we've done since he made his grand arrival, it's been hard to connect.  But I just love this family.  So I wanted to make them something really special this year.  And here it is:

Baby Jesus, tightly swaddled, and his little manger complete with hay
Mary...she looks slightly less freaky in real life.
Joseph.  I love his big nose and the look of surprise he's sporting.  I figure Joseph would have been in a state of shock throughout the whole Christmas ordeal.
Angel and the star.  I think this little star on its own little stand is a stroke of genius, if I do say so myself.  The star is such an important part of the story, but I just don't have the resources or tools to build my own little creche to hold it up.  So wooden spool + dowel + cookie-cutter felted star = problem solved.  Also, this angel looks exactly that freaky in real life, which I'm okay with because I figure angels probably are pretty freaky.
I originally intended on just giving the set above.  But when it came time to wrap it up, the pretty box I had gotten for the purpose was too big.  So with half an hour before we were going over to their house for dinner, I added this little guy:

So this is the finished set, ready for an addition or two next Christmas.  I'm intending to felt a few figures throughout the year since I know I will need them come December.  But I also intended to have this set finished three years ago, so we'll see if that actually happens.

As a catch-up from last year, I wanted to share this set, which I made for Jason's mom last year and never blogged about.  I intended to add to her nativity this year, but I ran out of steam.  It turned out to be okay because she forgot to set it up this year, which I was fine with because it released me from the guilt of not felting something for it.  But I think I'll pick it up again for next year.  At least, I intend to.

I can't decide if I like wool or wire better for the wings, but the wool was WAY easier.
I also did baby Jesus differently, using actual cloth to swaddle him.  Again, the way I did it this year (sculpting the swaddling clothes out of wool) was MUCH easier, and it allowed me to incorporate my new-found, mama-earned knowledge of a good swaddle.
The straw here is not as detailed, but it does look cozier.

Overall, I think my felting skills have improved, which is encouraging.  What is discouraging is that I now have 3 floating nativities residing with my 3 families, all with promises of additions for Christmases yet to come.  And truth be told, I really don't enjoy making these little critters.  The figures have too many details, too much symmetry, too many bits to mess up and tweak and tweak again.  But the unfortunate reality is that I think they are just so cool.  As soon as they are finished, I fall in love with them and forget the labor pains.  So they continue to be a present I love giving, even if it takes three years of labor...

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