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THE MAKING OF

EARLY 90S

(You can read the story here.)

I made this scene over twenty years ago when my two oldest grandsons were small. As other grandchildren were born, it became a family favorite over the years, and each year when it replaces the turkey-hunter dome on the end of our sofa table it ushers in the Christmas holiday season.

The base is styrofoam from a packing carton, layered and glued in stacks held together with toothpicks and carved to the general shape I wanted. After I planned the placement of my figures I covered it all with a thin layer of spackling compound and pressed the figures into place until I was sure of the arrangement. I removed them, added another layer of spackle and sprinkled baking soda as snow.

I used a pick to poke a hole for the trees, added some glue to their bases and inserted them. Then I added glue to the feet of the animals and elf and pressed them into place. Additional spackle and baking soda were added as needed for the final look. When I thought everything was completely dry, I held the whole thing upside down to shake off any excess baking sofa, and it all held perfectly.

When I made this scene I wasn't thinking about how I would display it, and when I wanted to put it into a dome, I had to keep hacking away at the back, then respackling and re-snowing, to make it fit. A few years ago my husband commented, "Well, either Edsel or that raccoon must've peed in your snow." Yep, at the back of the hill where two layers had been joined together some of the glue showed through and had caused yellowing. I added a bit of spackle and more baking soda, and no more "yellow snow." lol

I had pictures of the original construction process, but they were taken with my first digital camera and somehow I accidentally erased them on my floppy disk.

The bare-branch tree was one my husband picked up on one of his hikes long ago. I love it when he says "Oh, I found something you might like," and when he pulls something from his pack or his pockets it is usually terrific, and in scale. If not usable, which is rarely, it is the thought that counts. The other trees in this scene are available at craft stores. I added the spackle and baking soda snow on their branches.

I have several of these Christmas ornament elves which I purchased back in the late 80s or early 90s and have not seen again for sale since. I love their rather loopy appearances, and after removing their hangers named and assigned them various responsibilities as Santa's helpers, according to my imagination. One of Edsel's brother elves manages Santa's stable; another is a helper in a Christmas store, and a third polishes Santa's boots. I really should get those settings finished after all these years.

This is Edsel Elf, whose responsibility is to make sure the deer get their treats. I filled his bucket with Fimo carrots and apples that I had made in my early clay days. If Edsel's posture appears a bit odd here it is because of the heavy-laden wooden bucket. His other arm is swung out away from his body for balance.

If I were to do this scene now, I would probably glue fabric or add flocking over his "sheepskin" vest. I think I would use a wash over his face, too.

I pressed his feet alternately into the soda and spackle while it was still damp to form the footprints leading from Nimble Fingers, the raccoon. Unfortunately, they don't show up very well in the photos.

This little raccoon is from a large collection of Something-Critters (can't recall the exact name) that I bought at a Pic'n'Save (now Big Lots) years ago when the stores first opened in El Paso.

These deer were Christmas ornaments, purchased separately at another time, whose hangers I removed. I did a bit of touch up painting here and there.

I loved that they had such expressive postures and personalities. That baby just cried out to be hiding underneath a tree limb. I used sawdust shavings beneath and around him.

The blue scarf may keep this deer's head cozy, but what about those ears?

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When my granddaughter Jenna was small enough to peer at Edsel at eye level in his dome on the sofa table, she asked once, "Nana, why can't we make a project like you do?" That was what inspired her and her brother Joel's first Christmas projects, the snow scenes.

HOLY FAMILY FIGURINE

This figurine of the Holy Family usually occupies the other end of the sofa table. Although not a miniature, it is one of my prized Christmas pieces. I first saw it in an interior design showroom window in the late 70's and lusted after it for a long time but couldn't afford it. One year after Christmas I found it in the back of the store, and got it for fifty per cent off!

Many years ago my husband gave me a beautiful flower arrangement for Mother's Day. When I finally decided it was too shabby to keep any longer, I threw away all the flowers, but saved those bamboo swirls. I came across them while looking through my flower arranging stash for ideas to make a new arrangment for the sofa table. I decided to use them with this figurine because they made me think of haloes.

I am pleased now every time I look at them, not only for what they contribute to this arrangement, but also because I am reminded of a special gift from my dear husband a long time ago. They and Edsel, and memories shared with my grandchildren, always make our Christmas complete.

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Copyright <>Juawanna Newman . All rights reserved.