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Got the die-cut blues? Don't despair — there's a remedy for that!

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A little slip, and the die-cutting machine can take a nasty bite out of a lovely crèche. Luckily, there's reconstructive surgery available, with Photoshop...

 
The Twelve-pointed Star Nativity No. 3 — four layers, an unusual curved front, and extensive restoration due to die-cut damage. The Celso Battistini C. Rosa Collection. (Image by Crèchemania.) 


 
A cut, or two, too deep: rollover the image above with your mouse to see the restored figures. 
The eyes are dazzled by the nimbleness of die-cutting that can render a paper nativity so lacy you'd think it was cut by the tiniest scissor.

You need look no further than the Crèchemania Gallery to find a wonderful examples of this, the pop-up paper nativity L’ Institut Canadien de Québec—No. 10. Layer after cascading layer of a snowscape so beautifully rendered, because of die-cutting.

Alas, sometimes, as the die-cutting machine is doing its job, alright, a piece will shift ever so slightly as the knives slice through, and the result isn't pretty.

And if that damaged piece finds its way into a paper nativity that finds its way into your heart? First, sadness. Then, there's only one thing to do: repair.

The Twelve-Star Nativity No. 3 is a case in point. Rollover with your mouse at the figures, at left, to see the restoration, but for the moment let's see what damage a die-cut machine can cause.

As you can see, shoulders and heads have been chopped through, and because of the die-cut misalignment extraneous areas are now part of the scene: see the rounded shapes to the right of the heads of the standing Magi? (No, these are not supposed to be oversized turbans!)

Half the veil and head of Mary is gone, and poor Joseph's has lost half his face and shoulder. In fact, the two shepherds to the right have suffered a similar fate, with half their heads gone missing to the die-cutter.

If you compare the before-and-after figures — by mouseovering over them — you'll see that, besides the die-cutting issue, this piece suffers from numerous scratches and tears. Then there's the dulling of color caused by the darkening of paper as it ages.

 
Twelve-pointed Star Nativity No. 1 shares the same figures as No. 3, but in mirror image. 
Since I had a perfect set of these figures — see precious blog, A paper crèche classic — The Twelve-pointed Star Nativity , (shown at left), you might well ask: why didn't I just use them instead of going to all this trouble?

For one thing, crèche conservation is one of Crèchemania's founding principles. Also, you'll notice that the art and color palette of the two pieces is different. The die-cut damaged nativity is a much simpler, brighter version.

And the differences don't stop there. The No. 3 differs from the Twelve-pointed Star Nativity No. 1 in its construction, featuring a curved front, not usually seen in the world of paper crèches.

I wonder what my buddy, créche enthusiast Celso Rosa, who kindly sent me this nativity from his extensive collection, will have to say about my attempts at facial reconstruction?

Maybe, next time he — or you! — have a paper nativity you love in need of a little plastic surgery, you won't hesitate to pick up your Photoshop scalpel.

By the way, the Twelve-pointed Star of this nativity? It has 13 rays. But who's counting?

The Twelve-pointed Star is now available as a Premium Download, a Printed Sheet, or a specially-priced Combo.

— Alexis

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