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A vintage paper nativity in desperate need of some TLC

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There was nothing about the sad state of this beautiful vintage nativity that a few days of tender loving care couldn't fix …

 
Rollover on the image above with your mouse to see the vintage version of the Five Angels Nativity, clearly in need of some TLC. Notice that the "jump" in the Magi and the Mother and Child groups is due to positioning these pieces higher for better visibility. The shift in the background is due to the addition of a missing column at right. 



 
The manger walls were just about falling apart — rollover on the image above with your mouse to see the results of a few days' TLC. 
It's always great fun when my friend Celso Rosa shares with me his latest paper nativity acquisition.

But, in this case, he sounds a tad disappointed: "It's beautiful," Celso says on the phone from Brazil. "But you cannot imagine all the wire and holes!"

Wire?

"Yes. That's how the nativity was being held together."

A picture, as they say, is worth a thousand words, so Celso sends me an image of The Five Angels Nativity. It is lovely, and we talk about the familiar figures (see any of the Thurible nativities in the fold-out nativity pages of the Crèchemania Gallery).

The manger, too, with its double Gothic window and columns, is similar to that of the Victorian Nativity.

But neither of us has seen the manger front before, and we're excited. (See image, top of page.) It resembles an English cottage, with an elaborate banner arching over its thatched roof, Ehre sei Gott in der höhe! (Glory to God in the Highest!) written in calligraphic German script. Behind this
banner, surrounded by a cloud, there are five angels. The one in the center has arms raised, as if about to direct the others in song.

Everywhere there are flowers: behind a wooden fence, by the front entrance formed by two stone columns, on a climbing trellis by the stone manger wall at right.

 
The cracks and misregistration in the vintage nativity, because of the shifting of the red the blue plates — the Child's baby blues are on his forehead! — is seen when you rollover on the image above with your mouse. 
"It is a little gem," Celso says, "but it's in such sad shape."

He's right, and when you mouseover the images on this page you'll see for yourself.

The manger back and side walls (above, left), show not only the wire holes but tears, scratches, and areas where the printed image is altogether missing. And gone, too, is a right hand column, which I install in my reconstruction, after centering the Gothic window.

On the colorful façade, the fact that this nativity is in bad need of TCL is especially evident: present are cracks, tears, and these large elliptical white areas that discolored the image below.

"Oh, that's candle wax," Celso says. "I removed as much as I could, but lots of it still clings to the nativity for dear life."

Of course it was. I could see this beautiful nativity tucked under a real Christmas tree, with candles burning bright — and dripping melted wax on the paper crèche below.

A couple of days of intense Photoshop work later and wax stains, tears, and cracks are gone. Mouseover the image at the top of the page to see for yourself.

The only problem that remained is the registration of the blue printing plate.

Or I should say non-registration, as you can see when you mouseover the image of Mother and Child at left. See how the misaligned blue overprints the rest of the image? This is visible in the dress of the Virgin, but especially in the eyes of the Child, which are printed on his forehead instead. The Babe as a cyclops? Lord forbid.

The heavenly choir, as well, on the manger front had mis-aligned eyes, and mouths as well, due to the bad registration of the red plate. Whatever happened to the German knack for perfection? I guess, in this case, sobody had a bad day at the printer's.

Since there was no fixing the misalignment of the red and blue plates, what I had to do — shudder! — is disassemble one of my prized nativities and scan the Mother and Child and Magi figures. As I figured it, if anyone is worthy of tearing one of my crèches apart, it's Celso. His generosity in sharing his collection is greatly appreciated by me — and aficionados everywhere: as of today, his Arches Crèche, leads our Free Downloads at 7,237 — and counting.

I hope you'll find the Five Angels Nativity as delightful as Celso and I do. It has four layers, folds-out, measures 8.5 x 7.5 x 1.5 inches, and you'll be as proud to add it to your collection as we are.

Should you wish to add it to your collectiion as well, it is now available as a Premium Download, a Nativity Sheet, or a specially priced Combo.

Enjoy! And a great-big "Thank You!" to Celso.

— Alexis

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