Nativity Scene photo shoot

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I know it’s rushing the season, but for those of you who celebrate Christmas, it’s time to get started on making a nativity scene, so that you have it ready to display during the holidays. This set is from my how-to book, Felt Wee Folk – New Adventures, which has patterns and directions for making Mary, Joseph, the infant Jesus, 3 Kings and a shepherd and his sheep.

In this post, I show what the scene looked like in my studio, before we took photos for the book.

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The nativity figures are fun to make and can be as simple or decorative as you want.  I especially enjoyed coming up with the costumes for the three kings. Their gifts are different beads that look liked containers.

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

nativity project from Felt Wee Folk

For the photo shoot, I made the manger from curved pieces of driftwood, creating an arched structure. The back drop is a dark purple piece of felt with sewed on star sequins.

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Bayberry branches and dried foliage were the right scale for trees and brush. I used beach stones to fill gaps and build up the surrounding landscape. A pail full of beach sand covered the plywood base and the straw bedding was dried beach grass.

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The photo below is the one Rob and I chose for the book. We used a different photography method, which gives a more dramatic nighttime effect. We took the photo at night, in a completely dark room. During a long expose time of about 10 seconds, Rob “painted with light”, pointing and moving a small flash light around the areas he wanted lit up. We repeated that many times, until we had a good selection of photos from which to choose.

I’ve already heard from several enthusiastic people who are in the process of making or have competed a Nativity of their own. And I’m sure that each set of characters will be as unique as their maker!

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hunkered down in my studio

Rob and I are spending every spare moment in my studio, taking photographs for the revised edition of Felt Wee Folk. We need hundreds of pictures for the new book and we’re making good progress! There’s barely enough room for all of light stands, wires and equipment. The light box creates an even, pleasing light, so once it was set up, we spent a few days taking overhead shots of the dolls and step-by-step samples. I just started writing the new chapters and directions, which I find requires a different kind of discipline than stitching. So, if I don’t post for a while, I may be absorbed into the world of words, telling instead of showing. IMG_8330 We have another, larger light box that is good for the scenes. We’ve been taking pictures of the dolls all grouped together in a crowd, thinking that it would make a good book cover photo. Rob raised the tripod up really high to get the right angle. I wish you could see their little faces all looking up and waving, but that’ll have to wait until the book comes out in 2015.

Update: See the book here.

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another scene from Felt Wee Folk 2

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With the cold of winter upon us, it’s been easy to get into the spirit of my next scene for the 2nd edition of Felt Wee Folk, which will be published in 2015. The set-up includes a snowy hillside and an icy pond made of paraffin. I built the hill with chicken wire and wood. Then, I covered it with old-fashioned fluffy “snow” fabric that drapes in a convincing snow-like manner. I sprinkled on a product called Buffalo Snow Flurries, which looks like plastic bag material chewed up into really small pieces. It falls and glitters like snow, but feels nasty and gets over everything. I added old fake pine trees that my husband’s family had and some real bayberry branches that look like miniature trees.

We’ve moved the photography operation into my studio and used a light box for the first time. With flood lights shining on the outside of its white walls, a softly lit space is created inside. Rob set up his computer on my ironing board and monitored the shots.

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The dolls in the scene are skiing, skating, sledding, tobogganing and making a snow man. Even Jack Frost makes an appearance!

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Studio peek-a-boo

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I just wanted to show that I am indeed working in my studio these days, a lot. Every day, if I can manage it. I’m so tempted to show what I’m making in detail, because it’s exciting and fun, but that will have to wait until 2015, when my updated version of Felt Wee Folk will be published. With design pirating in the news (see Mimi Kirchner’s post about the Cody Foster situation here), I have to be more protective of my ideas, so I’m showing pictures with the dolls at a good arms length. The book’s deadline is only a few months away and I have so much to do before then! There are more new projects to make, rewriting and adding more directions, constructing scenes for photographing finished dolls, as well as getting good photos. Phew! I’m getting nervous, just typing these words.

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I recently put together a set to display a group of new dolls for the book. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at what’s involved. As you can see, the domed hill top is an upside down wooden bowl, which is raised up with blocks of wood and covered with pieces of green felt. I brought the whole scene outside to have it’s photo taken. We had a short window of time to do the photography. The day before had been so windy that chairs were knocked over on our patio. Yesterday’s calm, cloud filled sky gave us even light, so I rushed to set everything up. It took about an hour to cover the hillside with moss and position the dolls.

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I propped up a foam core board with felt attached for the background sky. Rob took photos of the scene.

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Here are some more photos taken at a respectable distance. I’m reusing the precious moss in several scenes. As long as I keep working at this pace, I’ll get the book done in time.

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Wee Folk photo shoot

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We woke up this morning to a hazy, cloudy day, which made me very happy. You see, I’ve been constructing a scene with dolls for my new book, the 2nd edition of Felt Wee Folk (2015 pub. date) and we were hoping to do a photo shoot outside with natural light. The conditions were perfect! The sun was just behind the clouds, shining a defused light that created soft shadows on the dolls’ little faces. We also used a reflector (that large white disk) to shine more light to the subject. It’s my job to hold the reflector at the right angle, but Rob held it while I took this picture. When I showed him this photo, he said, “Oh my, I look like a certified nerd.” I said, “Yeah, that’s my guy!”.

I had to resist the temptation to post closeups of the dolls, but it’s too early to show projects from the book, which isn’t scheduled to come out until 2015. It is not in my nature to hide what I’m up to, but I have to protect my ideas, until the time is right. I know that whatever goes out in cyberspace will be shared, often without regard for the source of origin. So, I’m giving a little peak, quite literally into the camera’s view screen. Hint: Mary Had a Little Lamb.

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