My friend Tania recently asked if I could build a small nativity shelter for her church to use in its children's Christmas play. I naturally responded "yes". The challenge was determining the size of the nativity as well as what it would be made out of. It also had to transport easily, as it would be built at my house and delivered to the church.
We determined the size and look of the nativity. We went with more of a vintage feel, with the planks being spaced unevenly with gaps. I then decided to make the nativity out of foam home insulation. I had recently become familiar with this "craft product" while building my Dalek. I would have used 2x4's to build the nativity, but the foam allows for a light product that's quick to build.
I cut the "planks" for the nativity with a box cutter. I then laid them out and hot glued them together. I built the sides, back and top separately. They could then be joined with burlap to give it a really old look. The top had notches in it that connected to the sides. I also recently purchased a hot knife similar to this one for cutting foam. It's an amazing tool for these types of things. I used it to add some wood grain and rough edges to the nativity.
I encountered some problems painting the foam with acrylic paint, mainly because it started to peel off a little bit when dry. But the peeling gave it a bit of a weather look, which was nice. I would have used spray paint but as many people know, spray paint does not like foam. It caused the foam to be sticky, bubbly and just plain blah. I wish spray paint worked well with foam, life would be much simpler!
Once I was finished, I delivered the nativity to Tania and it worked perfectly!
-The Media Buff