Big Ceramic Store Blog

Handcraft Your Own Christmas Nativity Set

Looking out the window the other day, our miniature donkey Jenny, caught my attention. She was ear deep in a pile of hay and it reminded me of the Nativity set we had when I was a kid. I knew at that moment, I needed to make a Nativity!

I haven't had one on display for years but I will this year! Grab a cup of coffee and follow me to the studio if you want to make one too!I wasn't sure what I wanted in a Nativity so I started looking on the internet for some ideas. I knew I didn't want it to be the traditional set my mom had, it had to be "ME" or it just wouldn't work.

This is what I came up with... very simple yet gets the meaning across!

Ready to get started?

*Roll out a slab of clay and cut out a 12" circle... (larger, if you want to go big.) Use a clay cutter or circle template to cut the circle out.

*I used a cookie cutter for the large star, but the rest were cut out freehand. Be creative and put any design on it that you want. Be careful not to get too close to the edge to minimize the chance of warping and cracking.

*Once you've designed the clay how you want, lay it over a bowl, board, platter, drape mold, etc... allowing one side to be longer than the other. Oh, and by the way, you may want to put the mold on top of a decorating or banding wheel so the clay can easily drape over the side.

*Using a utility knife, cut a slit in each side of the clay

*Score, slip and attach the clay to create the form

*After forming the base for your Nativity, you can get started on the people, animals, etc... I used a square piece of clay cut diagonally in half to form my Joseph and Mary.

*After forming the body, add a ball of clay for the head, and coils of clay for arms if you want. I used a buff clay for the head to accent it.

*Make a Baby Jesus... I just made the head and a folded coil for the feet to stick out of the blanket once I wrapped him up

*Now, either place Jesus im Mary's arms, or make a manger to lay him in. I put him in Mary's arms by cutting a slit in the clay and sealing the flap to the bottom of the blanket, then I rolled a coil of clay to wrap around the body as the arms

*Set the pieces off to dry, then bisque fire and glaze if you want. I like to keep the natural look so I fire to vitrification then spray it with  Duncan Clear Matte Sealer.

If you'd like to share your ideas, projects, or submit a post for our blog, email us at! We look forward to hearing from you! Ps... you can send us your pictures at that address as well!




5 thoughts on “Handcraft Your Own Christmas Nativity Set”

  • Karen S | #

    very interesting. I am not religious but I can see many applications for this process. Thank you for the ideas!

  • nikki | #

    This is lovely. Thank you

  • Clay Blog Review: November 2016 - Pottery Making Info |

    […] Big Ceramic Store: Handcraft Your Own Christmas Nativity Set […]


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