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Julian Scicluna


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"Happy Christmas" proclaims this pop-up Christmas card from the Collection of Julian Scicluna. Mouseover the card to see its front.

Julian Scicluna and one of his three-dimensional nativities displayed under glass.
Julian Scicluna's framed 3-D paper nativity is most intriguing (see photo, below), and I know our crèche friends will very much appreciate reading Create a 3-D Crèche: How-tos.

Thanks for sharing your profile and your crèche-making with us, Julian.

Since my childhood days, I was always surrounded by papier mâché cribs.

Cribs are popular in this Mediterranean island because the tradition came here from nearby Sicily and Italy. Spain is also not far away.

My father and brothers always created several cribs each year, which as Christmas approached, they gave away to friends and relatives. As a young ten-year-old boy, not having my own crib on Christmas Day made me resolve to remedy the situation; I made my own first crib! Crib making materials where at hand , and I had acquired the know-how by watching my family at work.

From that time on I never stopped making cribs. I always tried experimenting with different methods and techniques. By closely observing the many cribs on show all over the Island of Malta, I made mental notes of what looks good and what to avoid.

Julian created a three-dimensional tableau using multiple copies of a vintage nativity. (Julian Scicluna Collection; photo by Julian Scicluna.)
Almost every crib has some aspect that one should imitate, be it lighting, position of figures, general environment, plants etc. There are also things to avoid: too much light, wrong choice of figures, to much 'happening' in the scene, etc.

By joining a group of fellow enthusiasts, I got the opportunity to exhibit my works in an annual show. This proved to be very beneficial, because it serves as an incentive to try to do better each year. The candid comments of the viewers also help to ameliorate one's work. Its amazing how people always point out what looks good.

Seeing my friends using so many different materials—cork, polystyrene, tree bark—made me try out these materials for myself. In fact I learned that each material has its purpose and for the best results one must use the right material.

This year is my 37th year enjoying this wonderful pastime. Life can be very stressful at times, so its extremely therapeutic to occasionally find the time to escape to my small workshop and let creativity flow!

In my search for new ideas and materials, I came across this excellent site,, dedicated to paper cribs. It inspired me to create my first paper crib. Starting with a photo of an antique paper crib on display in Museo Del Presepio, Brembo di Dalmine in Italy, I scanned and ‘separated’ the layers using computer software, filling in the missing parts before printing and assembling in a gold framed box. I am pleased with the result and look forward to create more paper cribs using this method.

I love this process, because it brings together two things I enjoy; cribs and digital imaging. My profession is computer software development, so I do not shy away from using computer applications!

About gold framing: I am obsessed with it! I think it gives nativities that antique and special look, makes them look more precious, like a painting. I don't like nativities that look as if they were finished yesterday. In fact I apply a finish on both the cribs and figures to make them look aged. I think this boxed antique look gold frame is ideal.

Regards and thanks,
— Julian Scicluna

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