I love Christmas. I love the lights and the songs and the tree and the general feeling of jolliness. But I also love that we’re celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. My favourite part of Christmas Day is going to church. Partly that’s because I get to see my friends and all the children (including me and my friend admittedly) get to show off something they’ve opened. But mostly, I love getting together with the church to celebrate and worship God 🙂
When I was younger, we had a wooden nativity set. All the figures were put into the little stable except for the kings who would make their long journey around the lamp, over the television and across the hearth before joining everyone else on Christmas morning. Not historically accurate but fun!
The wooden set, sadly, is no more and since I recently started needle felting, I had a bash at making a simple nativity scene out of felt.
You will need:
Needle felting needles
Felting mat (you can but special mats and pads but I use a chunk of memory foam or a car washing sponge works too)
Core (rougher, cheaper unspun wool)
Wool roving topper (softer, more expensive unspun wool)
Start by making the basic shape of the figures out of the core. Roll it up into an oval shape, place it on the foam and use the felting needle to stab the wool repeatedly.It takes a little while but it’s very satisfying! It will get harder and smaller the more you stab it so don’t worry if it seems way too big to start with. Once you have felted it a bit, you can mold it like clay to get the shape you want.
Decide which end will be the base and stab it until it flattens out and the figure will stand up unsupported.
Once you have the basic shape, you need a face. Tear off a small piece of face colour topping (whatever you fancy!) and roll it into a ball in the palm of your hands. then place it on the core shape. Stab again, shaping it into a circle with your needle as you go.
The choose the colours you want for the clothing. The one in the photo is Mary so I went for blues.Wrap the topping around the core shape and needle felt it on, remembering that the while you’re felting on the topping, you’re also felting the main shape so it will continue to get smaller and firmer.
For her head covering, I used a darker blue and wrapped it round her like a shawl.
Once you’ve finished the colours, Mary is done! The just repeat the process to make all the other figures in the nativity scene. (I did Mary, Joseph, two shepherds, 3 kings, an angel and a sheep)
Use different colours to make each character recognisable. For Joseph, I gave him a head covering and then a band around his forehead (think children in the school play with a tea towel tied on with a dressing gown cord!)
For the kings, I did two similar to Joseph but put coloured jewels on and the third I gave a crown.
Once you’ve done the grown up figures, it’s time to do Jesus in the manger. I felted a piece of brown wool roving fairly flat and when it was at the stage I could mold it, I used my thumb to make it into a dish shape.
For Jesus, I used a small piece of grey wool roving and gave him a little pink face, using the same technique as for the others.
Lastly, I made a small sheep using a tiny piece of white wool roving with an even small piece for the head. I then felted it onto the side of one of the shepherds so it wouldn’t go AWOL! (See the main photo)
I really enjoyed making this nativity scene, it’s unique and I can’t wait to put it on my mantle piece when we decorate the tree tomorrow! And yes, the three kings might still make their journey around the sitting room 🙂
I hope you’ll have a go at needle felting, it’s very addictive and entirely satisfying!