"What one can see out in the sunlight is always less interesting than what is behind a windowpane."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Hand-Carved MINIATURE Nativity Scene

Despite Halloween being just around the corner, I go where my creative spirit leads me. This past week, I was moved to finish carving a miniature Nativity set I started last year.

Joseph, Mary, Baby Jesus, an angel, two shepherds, and the three Wise Men riding camels were all carved from from Butternut.

After carving all the people, I thought they needed a little stable.

I used a quarter to give you an idea of this set's true size.

Joseph is the biggest, standing a whopping two inches high.

Mary's face is so tiny, I had to leave it blank, going for the "Waldorf" style. Jesus lies in a wee manger and is less than an inch tall.

The shepherds were probably my favorite to carve. It was fun trying to make tiny little details in their clothing. The one shepherd even holds a walking stick.

Each Wise Man and camel are one piece, which was extremely challenging not only trying to figure out how to do it, but also being careful not to break off the camels' delicate legs.

The whole group, including a Waldorf-style angel.

Here is the entire piece. I added a wood star I traced and cut out using my bandsaw. I then painted it yellow and covered it in gold glitter. It's attached to the stable with a wire.

A close-up. For the stable, I cut and glued pieces of wood to make it. Then I embellished it with brick scrapbook paper, wood pottery, striped fabric, hay, and even a tiny little chicken peeking out from behind the fence.

To really get inspired to finish this carving, I kept listening to "What Child Is This?" and "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel." Both are a perfect fit when carving a creche.

A thin piece of wood acts as a base for the entire piece. Only the stable is secured down so you can constantly rearrange the people. The bottom even has "sand", which is a sand-gel mixed with sand-colored acrylic paint. I love working with as many textures as possible.

I think Santa Claus is next!


  1. Amazing! Nativity sets are one of my favorite Christmas decorations!


  2. Wowowowow! Jill - this is marvelous! You are so very gifted! Carving out of wood in such miniature size - really amazing! Now, how long did this take and is this something you market? I designed and made a set from fabric - my bean bag doll pattern - back in the 1990's. Sold a number of them at craft shows and kept one for myself. Don't know that I want that cottage industry thing happening in my house again, but it was fun. Now - just want to play with artsy things just to chill out. Never tried the carving thing - did you go to art school?

    Really lovely job! Merry Christmas!

  3. Jill, you are amazing. I absolutely love this!


  4. No matter how long I have "known" you or how many of your crafts I see,you continue to amaze me.You are so blessed in many ways-Denise

  5. Oh how fun!I just saw-We are both getting close to 100 followers,We should celebrate!

  6. Wow Jillsy those carving are awesome. You done great I love it

  7. Oh this is remarkably beautiful and the time you must have put into this. A-Mazing! I love it :-) Can't wait to see your Santa Claus.

  8. Gorgeous and truly amazing. Your talents are limitless.

  9. Thank you all so much! Any talent I have is from up above. : )

  10. You amaze me. Patsye

  11. This is amazing! It looks like something you could go buy at Hallmark! Wow! Great job you are wonderful!

  12. As always, I am just amazed at your talent! Love it!



  13. Wow!!! What an undertaking! That will be a wonderful heirloom to hand down in your family! Beautiful! karen....

  14. OMG Jill..... i LOVE this, you are just such gifted wood carver!!! Wondering if you have any
    Christmas spools for sale this year??

  15. Jill you sure are one talented rock star and I love that you give GOD the glory for it! I know I wouldn't be able to do what I do with out HIM!! I miss you!! Whatz up? XOXOXO Aunt Frannie

  16. Wow, That is amazing work !You are very talented.

  17. OMG Jill, what an amazing set, you're so talented!!!! Can't wait to see your Santa.

  18. Jill How are you? I'm missing you don't make me come down there to see if you're ok!!!! XOXO Love ya to the moon and back! Aunt Frannie

  19. WOW..that is lovely!!! I'm so impressed that you carve!
    Thanks for visiting me.
    Deb :)

  20. Is this something you'd be willing to sell? My church is looking to purchase a gift for our rector who is taking leave carry out another call. My parish is Church of the Holy Nativity, and therefore we are looking for a nativity set as a gift. If you'd like to give more information, I can be reached at coalescedreverie@gmail.com. Thanks so much. This is just lovely and exactly what I think we are trying to find.

  21. While visiting my daughter we went to a thrift store and in the Christmas room there was a Nativity set very much like yours only the figures were 7-8" tall all there except Mary. Is it possible to get a carved Mary at a reasonable cost? So tempting to buy but w/o Mary didn't know open options to acquire one. My daughter thought it neat and would have liked to have it. :) :) thanks for reading this inquiry, wishing you abundant success in your wonderful talent of carving. marje gillies