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Free Paper Nativity Figures from My Little House  

I told you about this adorable paper model of the nativity that they are giving away at My Little House, well here's my journey making it with my Bible School class.
First, in reading over all the pages I decided that the creche and manger would be too difficult for them so I made them myself before starting the project with the children. I also made the first palm tree just to see how the branches would work ahead of time (I decided to add a few extra branches). This is how it looks so far (sitting on Boo's bed!):
Last Sunday I started the project with the children who were very excited about it. I told them when we are done the pastor wants to display it on the communion table in front of his pulpit for everyone to enjoy. We started it after our lesson for the day and everyone got all the pieces for their character cut out. After class I scored all the lines so we'd be ready to fold and glue this week. I realized that I could score before cutting and speed things up, so I scored the entire kit yesterday using a dead pen (always saving money!) and cut the sheets into sections containing all the parts to one character for ease in handing out. I also shrunk one of the trees to 75% so I could vary the height like in the preview.

I like to re-purpose things to save both money and our landfills, so when I saw the packing material around an electric griddle my daughter got on Black Friday, I thought the texture would be fabulous for the ground in our scene since that part of the world wasn't grassy. I considered if the uneven surface would prevent the elements of the scene from standing properly, but they have square bases so I hope it will be fine after I glue this new surface down tight!

First I tore it and bent it to make the molded packing as flat as I could. I clearly didn't have enough to cover the piece of cardboard I'd cut from the face of the box to be our foundation for the scene. I cut off parts to use as little hills and rises to add interest to the scene.
I got to thinking about paper making. I've seen where they will take paper and put it through a blender with liquid, adding some things and then spread it on screen and dry making new paper. This packing was very thick. I decided to tear it into sections and soak it in hot water to soften it and start breaking down the fibers, hoping it wouldn't loose it's great texture. When it was soft, I separated the layers and tore small pieces that I smooshed together on a cookie sheet. When I'd covered the sheet I put it in my oven at the lowest setting, checking every 8 minutes. I wasn't sure if this would be a fire risk, so I stayed and worked on the scoring right next to the oven, just in case. It wasn't sufficiently dry when I wanted to go to bed, so I took it out and just put it on top the stove for the night. This morning it looked fabulous! It was dry and all my little pieces were now one! Though delicate. (See how the layers separated?)
The cookie sheet wasn't as long as my cardboard, so I covered my cardboard with foil, taping the seams to protect against moisture. I loosened my new "paper" with a spatula and centered it on my now protected cardboard (just in case I couldn't sufficiently "blend" the edges). I needed to add more to it so I wetted the existing edges and added till it was full. It looked better than this when I was done and you can see I still had more of the material left over! Since air drying worked overnight last night, I have just set it on top my stove for now since it's toasty warm up there while I reseason my cast iron skillet (at 500 degrees!).
This is a close up of the cool texture when it's dry! I think it looks very authentic!
With this success I'm thinking I might be able to alter the appearance of my "hills" the same way to blend better into the surface...hmmmm.

I need to attach my new surface to the cardboard backing (foil removed). That's a LOT of surface, so I wonder if ModPodge would be a good idea for this job? I have never used it, but I've read marvelous things about it. There are LOTS of varieties of ModPodge out there and I don't know what to try. If you have a suggestion I'd really appreciate you posting or e-mailing me QUICKLY! :)

I'll update you after we work more on it in class Sunday! Have a great day and thanks for dropping by!

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