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Vivid Miniature Nativities — and a brand-new Free Download!

Rating: 6 votes, 5.00 average.
Four vintage, discolored, and torn nativity sheets are preserved as four vibrant Vivid Miniature Nativities...

Vivid Miniature Nativities decorate the Crèchemania Crèche Tree. 
Vintage nativity sheets in desperate need of some Crèchemania TLC. 

I found myself out of the country, but not without the paper nativities I love. And I may not have had Internet, but I had Photoshop and scans of the four vintage miniature nativity sheets, shown at left.

Frequent visitors — and crèche enthusiasts — know of my affection for nativity sheets that takes me back to my childhood in my village in Greece. At Christmas, my present was a sheet that my dad bought for a drachma and I cut out and put together with flour glue.

I remember my wonder then, of a flat piece of paper magically transformed into a 3 dimensional crèche. After all these years, the wonder has not diminished.

So, such vintage sheets hold a special place in my heart. But what also motivates me nowadays is the Crèchemania project of digitizing and preserving the paper nativities we love.

The four sheets in question are a case in point: the images at left may show discoloration, but not the fragility of the aging pieces of paper. 8.5 x12 inches once, but now you don't dare take them out of their plastic sleeves lest you lose another piece. Edges didn't just tear off. You touch them, and they literally disintegrate in front of your eyes.

So, finding myself away from home for the last couple of months with lots of time for contemplation, I decided to give these lovely sheet the TLC (tender-loving-care) they deserved.

Thanks to Photoshop, dealing with the yellowing of age was easy, and for the first time in decades these miniature nativities once again shone brightly — on my computer screen.

Vibrant reds, blues, greens and yellows could now be seen again and enjoyed. And all the bright colors made naming them a shoo-in: Vivid Miniature Nativities it was.

Grecian columns and a polychrome-brick manger — Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 1. 
Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 1

Besides the vibrant primary colors, however, there's so much to love about these miniatures.

Take Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 1, at left: its polychrome-brick manger features a peak red-tiled roof, Moorish windows, and a finished look on all sides.

It's this last quality, besides the small size, that No. 1 shares with all the others and that makes it ideal as an ornament be seen from all angles.

Also, the fact that these miniatures were designed to be small — not reduced from a much-larger sheet — means sharp images. Because when you sometimes "miniaturize" a larger image, design elements can become fuzzy. I should know; I have quite a few of these sheets in the Crèchemania Collection.

Besides they're small size and bright colors, what I most love about these miniatures is their artistic simplicity: the artist has applied color like a child painting between the lines. And you can tell that the artist did so with exuberance, because you can see where the occasional brush-stroke splashed outside the linear parameters.

In fact, this painting-between-the-lines look is what makes these miniatures so charming, so appealing to children of all ages.

The original sheets were designed as table-top nativity scenes with lots of figures to be displayed at will. But I have chosen to present them as self-contained nativities. As you can see, No. 1, for example, encloses all the figures within the Manger, creating a compact, easy to display nativity-ornament.

A diamond-patterned roof covers Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 2. 
Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 2

All of these miniatures are special to me, but I must admit a special fondness for No. 2.

Could it be its red-and-yellow diamond-patterned slopping roof?

The angel hovering in a cloud above?

The comet-like Bethlehem Star that has come to rest above the Nativity?

Or the curved, iron bar windows that could be cut out and lined with cellophane? What a wonderful glow that would be, with a of the low voltage LED Christmas tree light inside the crèche!

I mentioned that all the Vivid Miniature Nativities are finished on all sides — even underneath. The back outside wall of No. 2 — as yet another example of artistic flight of fancy — features an apse toped by an onion dome. The front is topped by a red-brick arch and covered with a trellis in bright greens.

Like No. 1, No. 2 was also simplified: magi, more sheep, and a man carrying fruit contained in the original vintage sheet were not used in the interest of creating a more compact, less busy, miniature.

Geometric designs, a left lean-to and right wing — Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 3. 
Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 3

No. 3 is the most elaborate, construction-wise, of the miniatures featuring a slopping lean-to on the left of the manger and a square building on the right.

The Moorish theme is evident here as well, in a brick doorway and the fondness for splashy color in the checkered roofs: blue, green and red for the manger, red and green for the small building at right.

This more elaborate miniature seemed to need more figures: a magi and sheep are featured in the manger, and another magi at the left front.

Still, there were figures I wasn't able to use: a wonderful cow, more sheep, a shepherd, and a woman in a green and red dress.

Cellophane could enhance No. 3 as well, in the square and round windows and Moorish doorway.

An awning above the front brick arch and the Star of Bethlehem complete Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 3.

Magi offer gifts — Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 4. 
Vivid Miniature Nativity No. 4

I decided to spare you the grief, and did not include in No. 4, a garland and two palm trees that would have necessitated magnifying glasses to be cut out!

Also not used was a right lean-to of dark wood that created an asymmetry and would have unbalanced your crèche if you were to hang it. (Besides, there's only so much room on an 8.5 x 11 sheet!)

As you can see, what was included makes a pleasing composition: a sheep rests in front of the Nativity scene inside the manger, and two magi are found on either side of the front.

What the photo at left does not show, is the red shingled roof that slopes down to the back.

For a closer look, be sure to check the much larger images of all the Vivid Miniature Nativities in the

All that remains to mention is where to place the slots for the gold cord, should you wish to hang your nativity.

Centering two slots on each side wall, about .25 inches from the roof should do the trick. The horizontal slot will allow you to move each end of the cord back-and-forth so that your nativity will hang straight.

What I also have done — ever so gently! — is to hold two T-pins against the side walls of the nativity, just below the roof. By momentarily lifting the nativity by the T-pins, observing how it hangs, lowering it and moving the T-pins forward or back and lifting again you'll get the nativity to hang straight. You can then make a small pin prick at those spots to cut the slots.

A horizontal slot allows you to move each end of the cord, forward or back, so your nativity hangs just so.

Of course, in the case of No. 2, you could simply make a small hole at either end of the top of the roof.

A new Free Download courtesy of Crè 
A new Free Download — Rake Miniature Nativity

I couldn't resist putting one more vintage sheet to good use and I have added a brand-new miniature to the Crèchemania Free Download collection.

The Rake Miniature Nativity is bright and simple: a square manger, a slopping roof, figures that you can position as you wish.

And it'll beautifully complement Vivid Miniature Nativities.


— Alexis

P.S. We'd love to hear from you; place your comments on any of the Vivid Miniature Nativity pages.

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Alexis' Blog