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Zabrdí, the Czech Republic, is home to Zabrdské Betlémy, Svatava Vizinová's marvelous Museum devoted to paper nativities.

 
"Crčches knock on all hearts," Svatava says, "but to open, it is necessary to do so from the inside…"


 
Svatava Vizinová, when not cutting out and assembling nativities at Záberdske Betlémy, she's painting podmalby on glass. 
In the heart of the small village of Zabrdí, in Bohemia, stands the Zabrdské Betlémy Museum of Svatava Vizinová.

Bands of light yellow provide the only touch of color to this two-story, off-white stucco building. Who could guess, without the small Zabrdské Betlémy sign outside, that it houses a colorful world of hundreds—probably thousands—of paper nativities?

I entered that world even before my trip to Zabrdí, through the eloquent letters of Svatava Vizinová. "I have been living here for four years," she writes. "From morning to night I am working cutting out cribs, little figures, cut polysterene, glue on carton boxes, scissors, pins. And I am very happy."

Have carton boxes ever been put to better use? They house Svatava's nativity dioramas that stretch—in neat rows seven-high—the length and breadth of Zabradské Betlémy's second floor.

Ever since my wonderful trip to Svatava's world and Museum I have been wanting to share it with you. I have begun doing so by creating a video so you can feel that you are paying Svatava a visit yourself…

So click "play," above, or the Zabrdské Betlémy links in the navigation column at left—and enter Svatava's world yourself…

14 total entries (11164 views)

Letters, Downloads & Nativity Sheets
A letter from Svatava
“Crčches are opening all hearts”
Posted Jun 18, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (4985 views)
You read Svatava Vizinová's letter and you fell you're there, in her Zabrdské Betlémy Museum with her: "To this day, there have been 3,188 visitors," she writes. "Twenty-two natviity scenes are waiting for scissors and pins…" Read more...

Letters, Downloads & Nativity Sheets
Candle Nativity
A black-and-white engraved nativity sheet
Posted Jun 22, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (6938 views)
This old black-and-white engraving's primitive, charming look is delightful enough. But the addition of color just might add a new dimension—and make it a fun project for a child or the whole family. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Casa Editrice Carroccio Nativity Sheet
A gem of sheet
Posted Jun 21, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (9245 views)
With vivid colors and superb artwork, this nativity to cut out and assemble was issued in three sheets by Casa Editrice Carroccio, Milan, circa 1950. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Dove Nativity
Italian, in three folios
Posted Jun 23, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (5862 views)
Surely one of the most stunning nativity sheets, the Dove Nativity was printed in Italy, in three sheets, and contains a superb manger and beautiful figures. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Gustav Kühn Nativity Sheet
By Gustav Künst
Posted Jun 22, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (11110 views)
Issued by Gustav Kühn in Neuruppin, Germany, this nativity sheet has a primitive, hand-colored, look. Just five pieces create a table-top nativity featuring vaulted arches, a tower, and simple drawings. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Hunting Horn Nativity
One sheet, marked "II, 11"
Posted Jun 22, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (7804 views)
The simple construction of this nativity had children in mind: four folds, and the manger is assembled. The drawings are vibrant, and there's a second walled enclosure provided, whose purpose—construction-wise—is not quite clear. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
L' Étable de Bethléem (The Stable at Bethlehem)
Vintage French sheet featuring fanciful construction and simple art
Posted Jun 24, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (9921 views)
L' Étable de Bethléem (The Stable of Bethlehem), a vintage sheet by the French L' Imagerie Epinal, features surprisingly sophisticated construction if rather simple artwork. But who cares? The finished effect—with festooned Gothic arches, a slopping roof, and finished construction inside and out—is wonderful. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Perola “Advertising” Nativity Sheet
From Svatava Vizinová, an “advertising" nativity sheet, given by merchants in the former Czechoslavakia…
Posted Mar 13, 2007 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová — 3,881 Downloads; PDF; 58.3 MB (46139 views)
Svatava Vizinová's gift to all paper nativity lovers harkens to my childhood. This beautiful Perola "Advertising" Nativity Sheet reminds me of the ones my father would buy me for few drachmas. Only mine featured incence, frankincense, and myrrh — not flour and coffee, as does this vintage Czechoslovakian nativity sheet… Read more...
6 comments

A Free Download!
Nativity Sheets
Polychrome Nativity Sheet
Two sheets create a multi-color crčche
Posted Jun 21, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (51367 views)
Two sheets make up this nativity that features arches, a colorful tile roof, and handsome figures. Read more...

Downloads
Svatava Crčche No. 5
A beguiling nativity from Svatava Vizinová, a free download to print, cut out, and display
Posted Mar 23, 2011 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová — 2,039 Downloads; PDF; 5.9 MB (17053 views)
From the prodigious collection — and gifted brush — of Svatava Vizinová comes this Free Download of a beguiling paper nativity for you to print, cut out, and display. Svatava Crčche No. 5 features folk costumes, a layering of colors, artistic playfulness, and a fine rendering of lines found in podmalby — reverse-glass painting — one of Svatava's specialties. In the 18th and 19th centuries, podmalby flowered in Bavaria, Moravia, Slovakia, and Bohemia, home to Svatava's Zábrdské Betlémy Museum.

Svatava Crčche No. 5 consists of three sheets, (shown at left), and features shepherds — holding braided bread, a lamb, and playing music on a reed intrument — adoring the Christ Child. Above heavenly clouds encircle a Gloria Angel, and the Bethlehem Star shines, and below, Joseph and Mary kneel in front of the Christ Child.
Read more...
1 comment

A Free Download!
Fold-out Nativities
Svatava Nativity
A charming fold-out nativity from Zábrdske Betlémy’s Svatava Vizinová
Posted Oct 2, 2009 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová — 5,884 Downloads; PDF; 1.1 MB (31953 views)
From the Zábrdske Betlémy Museum — and heart — of my Czech friend Svatava Vizinová comes this lovely nativity. Svatava's Nativity features the Adoration of the Magi and Shepherds and is made up of only two pieces. "For your Christmas tree," writes Svatava, and adds, "Not only for your Christmas tree… For everybody who would like it…" Thanks, Svatava! Read more...
6 comments

A Free Download!
Letters, Downloads & Nativity Sheets
The beautiful warmth you feel in your heart…
In Bohemia, Svatava Vizinová shares her love of nativities
Posted Jun 18, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (20733 views)
You open a large envelope to find not one, not two, but three beautiful nativities—and a wonderful letter from a woman you have never met, who's devoting her life to a paper nativity museum whose visitors "feel a beautiful warmth in their heart…" Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Timber Frame Nativity
Posted Jun 22, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (6411 views)
Reminiscent of a J. F. Schreiber nativity, this sheet presents The Nativity on a single plane, behind which is attached the timber-frame stable with its thatch roof. Read more...

Nativity Sheets
Well Nativity
Posted Jun 23, 2010 , Courtesy Svatava Vizinová 0 Downloads; (5348 views)
This 12.25 x 10.25 Italian nativity sheet in one folio is made up of 24 pieces that include a one-piece stable, a woman drawing water from a red tile-roofed well, and an angel blowing a trumpet. Read more...



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