Ceramic Nativities

When I was little, one of my favorite parts of decorating for Christmas was watching Mom set up her ceramic nativity set.  My dad had bought it for her and her dad, my grandpa, had built the stable out of willow branches.  If I was very lucky, and very very careful, I got to help take the pieces out of their protective foam layers and hand them to Mom to put in the stable.

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It was almost magical, as if the pieces were waking up from their eleven month slumber, ready to remind us of why we celebrate Christmas in the first place.

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I still love looking at her set.

Several years ago, when Mom and I were garage saling, we found a couple sets of unpainted ceramic nativities that were the same exact figures as hers.  And they were only $4 each!  We snatched them up, with the intention of Mom painting them for me and my brother.

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Well, years passed, and the nativities were forgotten.  In the meantime, I had painted a plaster Precious Moments nativity set for myself, so I wasn’t in dire need of my own set like Mom’s.  Eventually, the plain ceramic sets were put in our own garage sale, in the hopes of getting our money back.

More time passed.  I moved out and began branching out in my creative exploits.  I was reading some blogs about using Rub ‘n Buff paints, and I had the brilliant idea that those plain nativity sets would look gorgeous in beautiful metallic colors.  I asked Mom if we still had them, and we wracked our brains to remember if they had actually sold in our garage sales, or if we had donated them, or if we still had them tucked away somewhere.  Happily, they hadn’t sold and we still had them boxed up.  I gleefully brought them home with me and began painting them.

I had purchased this sampler set from Amazon, which included 12 colors of the wax paint.

It was way cheaper than buying each individual color from my local craft store, and they didn’t have all the colors anyway.  I haven’t used all the colors yet, so I can’t speak to how well they all work, but the ones I’ve tried have been great.

Now, if you have ever used Rub ‘n Buff, you know it smells.  And the best way to make it look good when you apply it is to rub it on with your finger.  And let me tell you, the gold paint is hard to get off said finger!  I did one set in Gold Leaf and one set in Silver Leaf.

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To get the paint in all the little nooks and crannies and details of the pieces, I used a TON of Q-tips to rub it in.  The silver set buffed up shinier than the gold, but they both ended up really pretty.  It did take two coats of the gold to get it to cover all the way and to get it in all the little details.

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I ended up giving the gold set back to my Mom and keeping the silver set for myself.

All in all, I’m really happy with the way they turned out, and Rub ‘n Buff is one of my new favorite things.  🙂  It’s nice to have a special nativity set that is like my Mom’s but is also totally mine and not just a copy-cat version.  I love the modern look of the shiny silver and the simplicity of the single color on the whole set.

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I painted that canvas, too.  It was inspired by this post by Kelly of ViewAlongTheWay.  I like the way it eventually turned out, but it was a struggle and let me just say, I will NEVER decorate anything with thin sheets of silver leaf again!  The supplies I got for that are already in my box collecting things for a garage sale.  I’ll probably still be finding little flakes of silver a year from now.

*shudder*

Anyway, I’ve got a couple other things to get done tonight.  I’ll be back soon with the last Christmas card for the year!

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