Sunday, December 25, 2022

Nativity Collection

I have no quilty content today, but I have often said I would do a post of my Nativities--so this is it. I know many people have more sets than I, but I have put some limits on myself as to what I would include in my collection. With no boundaries, a collection can quickly get out of hand under my control (or the lack thereof).

My decision was to collect Nativities from other lands--preferably handcrafted. And even more specific is that I wanted them to be from countries my family or friends have visited. Some of them have been gifted to me by my family and friends when returning from travels. Others have been located through online stores, or through a bookstore here that carries a large selection of Nativities (many of them being international) every year at Christmas time. In fact, of the ones I have purchased, most came from this store on the after Christmas sales.

So without further ado--my International Nativities:

Cambodia--When my brother was a missionary in Thailand many years ago, they had to leave the country every 6 months or so to get their visa renewed. Cambodia and Viet Nam were the places he would have to go. This is quilled paper and was gifted to me by my younger daughter.

Mexico--My husband and I got together on a failed tour to Mexico with a performing group. We had paid for the trip, but didn't get farther than a border town--and never got our money back.

   Left: Bolivia--Some neighbors were missionaries there. Right: Peru--just couldn't resist this.
And apparently I really can't resist the Peruvian Nativities, because I now have three more! The one below, on the left, was added after Christmas in 2022, and the one on the right was added from the Nativity Market in 2023. My friend Lori, at Humble Quilts blog, has been to Peru a couple of times (that I know of), so Lori, you get to be my justification for buying Peruvian nativities. And I thank you, because I love them. :)
The following nativity, also from Peru, was purchased after Christmas in 2023. Sorry about the reflection from the glass shelf. You aren't seeing double.

Both of the nativities above are from Argentina--oldest son was a missionary near Buenos Aires. Left: He brought these figures home with him--(figures only. Stable was found at a local thrift store.)  They are very small. Even smaller is the wooden nativity on the right. I bought this in a local shop that specializes in "Fair Trade" items. In addition to these two, for Christmas in 2023 I received the nativity below, on the left, from a neighbor who recently returned from Argentina with her husband, where they were providing leadership for a mission there for three years. 
And on the right, above, is the one from New Zealand that my older sister brought me after she visited our cousin that was living there. Both of these above are carved from woods native to the respective countries. I'll have to try and find out what they are.

  Left: Germany--my father and oldest daughter have been there, but I bought this Nativity in an antique mall.  Right: Austria--oldest daughter bought this for me when doing a semester abroad. Both of these nativities are beautifully hand carved.   They are each 4" to 4.5" tall.     

Above: Both from Kenya and made of soapstone. Silky smooth to the touch. I don't know anyone who has been there--I just can't resist the feel of the stone. It is therapeutic. Sometimes I just have to pet these. :)

Two more stone nativities added after my original post, the one on the left is springstone, from Zimbabwe. I purchased it after Christmas in 2022. Much of the carving is textured, so I don't pet this one. The one on the right is another one from Kenya made of soapstone. I purchased this in November 2023 at the Nativity Market. The roof of the dwelling comes off, and you can place the figures inside, but then it is too dark to see their vivid colors and designs.

Philippines: This was purchased at 90% off on an after Christmas sale a few years ago. It was hand carved. I have a sister-in-law whose parents (whom I knew before I knew their daughter, because they were friends with my parents) served as missionaries in the Philippines, and several friends in our community have served there over the years, as well. The proportions of this one are interesting. Mary and the donkey seem on a larger scale than Joseph and the baby. And as of August 2023, my older sister and her husband are serving as missionaries in the Philippines.

 Left: Iceland--Our sons got me this wool Nativity on a Spring break trip. Right: Mozambique--made of sandalwood. Smells so good, I couldn't resist it. Sometimes I just have to scratch and sniff. :)

Left: Ecuador--I don't know of anyone who has been there. But my fascination with miniatures won out--this is carved from a Tagua nut, and it is tiny. Right: Hawaii--My younger daughter brought this back to me after their family visited Hawaii. Though the gourd shaped holder is actually taller than the Tagua nut structure, the figures inside are very small.

Thailand--my brother was a missionary there for 2 years. Most of the nativities I see from Thailand are made of mixed metals with beads, and sometimes wood elements are added. I have a real weakness for them, judging by the number of nativities I have from this country.
Another from Thailand below. It was the first from Thailand that I purchased in 2020.
I am also a big fan of the nativity ornaments from Thailand. The variety is endless, but I only have my favorite two, shown below. Notice the cow, sheep and donkey dangling from the bottom of the one on the right.

I have two of this puzzle-style nativity. the one on the right is from India--One of my nieces and her hubby lived there for a while after they were married. On the left is one from Columbia. I bought this at the Nativity Market in November of 2023. It is much smaller than the one from India. Don't know anyone who has been to Columbia, but it was my birthday outing, so I gave myself a free pass.

Ghana--A dear friend had this carved for me while she and her husband were on a combination Sabbatical and mission trip there.

Left: Guatemala--my parents and younger sister took a trip there.  But I ordered this online.  Right: Brazil--Our youngest son brought this from his mission on the southern tip of Brazil. The figures are from banana leaves and the shelter is corrugated cardboard.

Left: Brazil--Also brought home by our youngest son from his mission. Notice how the figures nest. Joseph is quite tall. Right: Ireland--Hubby was a missionary there before we were married, and he returned twice with a performing group. This is Waterford Crystal. The company now outsources these, but I was able to find this set on eBay with the original Waterford hallmarks.

Israel--I don't know the exact origin, but it is made from olive wood and was a gift from a dear blog friend. My parents and my brother have visited the Holy Land. I used to think I would someday, too, but now I wonder.

This was added to the collection in 2022. Also of olive wood, this was crafted in Bethlehem from olive wood harvested in Jerusalem. Apparently they must prune the olive trees every two years so they will bear fruit, and the prunings are used in many crafts such as this. I love the gorgeous grain of the olive wood. 

The last of the International Nativities is my German Pyramid. This is a family favorite. Whenever we gather during the Christmas season, the candles are lit and we enjoy the four, candle-powered, rotating scenes. Again, my father and my oldest daughter have each traveled to Germany, and I have  German heritage on my father's side.

I have five or six other non-international Nativities, and of those I will just share this one. Many of you will recognize it as the Willow Tree collection. It was my first Nativity set that I hadn't painted myself (I used to paint a lot of ceramics).

This is what Christmas is about to me. I love the season of remembering and celebrating the love of our Savior. Whatever your Christmas celebration is like--if you celebrate, I hope it is a day of peace and joy for you (and I am praying for all of those in the path of extreme weather). From our house to yours, Merry Christmas!
Janet O.
(Yes, hubby and I put up all those lights ourselves every year--there are more on the side you can't see here. I keep waiting for him to say we are getting too old, but until then, I will continue to bask in the glow.) 

Oh, almost forgot! A few years ago I posted a link to a version of the song "Mary, Did You Know?" Recently I came across a YouTube of Voctave performing the song, with the lead vocals by the man who wrote the lyric to the song. The vocals in this are so pure, and the joy on the face of Mark Lowry is really touching. Give it a look.

Friday, December 2, 2022

November Monthly Mini

It is still November, isn't it? (kidding--or maybe wishful thinking) 

When I found time that I could sew during the month of November, I could not seem to locate my sewing mojo at that same time. So this little thing, that was made from a bunch of tiny 4-patch blocks create as leader/enders, was all but bound as November came to a close.

Not quite a fall color scheme, but I already had this center assembled. It wasn't difficult (even with no mojo), to slap a couple of borders on from leftover strips from another project, and do some quick, straight line quilting with my walking foot. This finishes at 6 1/2" square.

This photo below gives you a better size perspective, because you may not be able to tell that the carnations in the soft, fuzzy photo above (accidentally taken in portrait mode), are miniatures.

Linking up here with Wendy of The Constant Quilter blog (her mini is gorgeous). Click on her link to see the list of other merry mini makers, and check out their creations.

I had one of those monumental birthdays in November, and my youngest son (seen below, sitting beside me) gifted me with the game we are playing. Can you pick out the box? Calico is the name, and it is a clever strategy game that you wouldn't expect from a game about quilting--and there are cats involved. The winner receives the Master Quilter ribbon my older son is holding up. I played two games with my boys, and they each won one. How did that feel? Just look at my expression. ;) But it is a fun game.

I am slow with my Christmas decorating this year, but we did spring for a new fake tree last week, and I now have the decorating of it completed. You can see the decorations better with the lights off, because it has about a bazillion tiny lights. So here it is without the lights on. I definitely lean toward traditional, old-fashioned tree decor. Vintage glass balls, lots of handcrafted ornaments, and ornaments picked up on family vacations. The tree skirt was made by my mother. Just simple patchwork, and I love it!

The thing I love most about this tree we bought is that it looks like real evergreen branches--all the way to the trunk, not just on the tips, like some trees we saw. And the needles feel soft and realistic. I've waited a long time to be able to get a tree like this. If I can't have a real tree, at least it can look real, and I'll put pine essential oil in the diffuser.

If you are in the mood to make a sweet little Christmas quilt, check out Pam Buda's latest post here, for her Holly & Berry pattern. You can even see the vintage doll quilt on which it was based. I love it, and downloaded the free pattern (until December 5th), but am being true to my "No New Starts" rule--for the time being. If you don't do Christmas, it would look great in any color scheme.

I have done a poor job of blogging this year. I hope to do better in the new year, but during December I doubt I will improve much, if any. Just way too much going on right now, and only some of it is holiday related. 

I wish you all a wonderful December, whether it is your winter or summer. I am going to try hard to post at least a second time this month--and not just for the monthly mini. Of course, that means I need to get some sewing done. We'll see how that goes.

Until next time, be creative and be kind--even to yourself.

Janet O.