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A Christmas lantern

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The Nativity shines bright on your Christmas tree, with translucent film as stained glass…

 
The Gothic window outlines are paper, the stained glass film—The Nativity Lantern features The Adoration of the Magi, Cathedral of the Epiphany, Soux City, Iowa. The heavy cross bars that are used to support the heavy stained glass have been removed, making for a more unified image.
 
Die Geburt Christi—The Birth of Christ—a delightful vintage German lampenschirm (lampshade).
I haven't been able to get Tharsella Pins and her sad St. Mary's story out of my mind (see, Tharsella Pins says a tearful goodbye to St. Mary's in Dubuque, Iowa).

So I knew it was time I took out paper, scissors, glue, and my trusted X-Acto knife—and, in this case, with transparency film as well, but I'll get to that in a minute—put on Vivaldi's Stabat Mater with Nathalie Stutzman, and work with my hands for awhile.

But not any-old paper model would do: I am thinking of an homage to St. Mary's; maybe featuring its beautiful F.X. Zettler stained glass window of the Nativity?

But I need a high-resolution image, which I don't have, since the photo I've used in my blog was kindly supplied by the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

So, I switch gears and use another Zettler Window, from the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City, Iowa.

I've been thinking about the vintage German lampenschirme (lampshades), paper constructions to decorate the base of the tree or fit over the shade of an oil lamp.

The delightful lampenschirm shown at left, "Die Geburt Christi, is such a delightful "lampshade." Octagonal in shape, it features three-dimensional elements—like the manger—that extend from its slopes.

 
This view of the Nativity Lantern shows all of the Adoration of the Magi window.
Since oil lamps are in short supply, I start thinking about a Nativity Lantern (see photo, top of page). But, my first octagonal attempt would be better suited to a Panetone presentation box than a Christmas lantern!

Back on the drawing board, the result was the four-sided Nativity Lantern you see on on this page.

Reminiscent of the oil-lamp lanterns of my youth—my village had no electricity—the lantern features a slopping top, a fourteen-sided circular rain guard, a round carrying handle, feet—and the Zettler Rose window on its base (see photo, below).

But it's the four sides that make this little lantern—it measures 2.5 inches wide by 7.5 high to the top of its handle, and is shown almost life-size in the photos on this page—a sight to behold: the stained glass windows of The Epiphany, also called The Adoration of the Magi.

The Gothic windows that make up the four sides and slope gently at the top and are are printed on card-stock and are joined by a four-sided piece that has an round opening in its center. Through this runs the invisible wire that attaches the rain-guard and handle to the lantern.

This opening, also, allows heat to escape. And even the lowest-watt Christmas tree bulb puts out heat.

Transparency film is used for the stained glass, because the whole idea is to illuminate your Nativity Lantern from within. And plain paper—as used in vintage lampenschirme—just wouldn't do.

I used 3M Multipurpose Transparency Film that can be used with ink jet or laser printers with stunning results.

The Christmas Lantern is now available as a Crèchemania Premium Download soon.

A black Lantern? By the way, the lantern body doesn't necessarily have to be black. I thought black nicely outlines the luminous stained glass image, but, as you can see from the image at left, you could use a more gray tone.

In fact, printing just the outline of the lantern on any light-weight, color, construction paper—and so might you.

So the only question in mind my mind now is whether my friend Celso Rosa will be able to get his hands on the 3M film: "I had the idea," he writes from Sao Paolo, "to reproduce one your stained glass windows in one of my diorama constructions.

 
A round opening could be cut in the center Rose allowing the insertion of a tiny Christmas tree light. And for added ventilation, some of the small roundels of the Rose window could be cut out as well. Also, note that the lantern body is not totally black, but has a silver cast—something you might want for your Nativity Lantern.
"I thought if I printed the stained glass image on cellophane or acrylic stock, and put a light behind it, it will give a nice view.

"I have seen clear fingernail polish used to give the "windows" an old-fahsioned, poured-glass appearance. The only thing I'm not sure yet is if I will be able to print on acrylic stock. What do you think?"

Yes, you can, Celso! If it's 3M multipurpose film. Would you like me to put some in the mail?

—Alexis

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