Sunday, December 2, 2012

Rubber Duck Nativity - Merry Christmas Fun!

I love Christmas and all things Christmas, especially the odd items I come across as I collect.
This year my hubby spotted a truly fun set of Nativity rubber ducks and could not resist them.
Naturally, they needed a  way to be displayed, so I created one using a wooden cigar box and a variety of digital images which became my manger setting and storage case for them.

I hope you enjoy this fun twist on a classic Nativity!

This is the what my Rubber Duck Nativity looks like when set out.
This unusual set of Rubber Duck Nativity pieces was in need of a proper setting and I've been meaning to create a series of Toy Theater projects using my collection of cigar boxes so...
Rubber Duck Nativity in a Box is my first.

I purchased my 12 piece rubber duck nativity figures at Hobby Lobby for about $5.00 on sale.
If you don't have a Hobby Lobby in your area this set of duck figures can be found online from various sellers and retail for around $12.00 plus shipping.

12 Piece Rubber Duck Nativity
I only used 11 of the 12 figures in my Nativity since I did not think it was proper to have a pig in the scene - it's just not Kosher, so that little piggy was sent packing from my final scene.

These figures are so cute on their own but I had to build them a home and here is how I did it.
update 12-25-12 (My Hubby just informed while sharing this post with family, that when I set up the nativity figures in the box and for this picture I confused the pink shepherd for Joseph; which is really the green duck with the beard - oh, well, just another situation to giggle over)


First off I wanted a one stop solution to display and store this set so I used a cigar box.
Salvaged Wooden Cigar Box
Luckily we live close to a cigar outlet and I'm able to purchase great wooden cigar boxes for $2.00 each, so I raided my stash for one that was the right size for my project and this was the winner.

Interior view of the cigar box with bonus accessory
 Some of the cigar boxes I buy have these bonus platforms in them and
I choose to make use of this one in my project.

I stained the raw wood that would still be exposed after all my scenery
was in place to help pull the finished look together. 

The Nativity bits and pieces before I installed them
It took me a while on the computer to "build" the scenery.  I used various elements from a variety of photos of ruins to get my stone walls, floors and ceiling.  The view of Bethlehem you see in the background is part of an 1882 painting done by Vasily Polenov of Bethlehem.
I created star and light beam digitally using a variety of Photoshop brushes
in my digital arsenal and set it against a night sky scene I altered.

After I digitally created each panel that would comprise my scene in the cigar box, I printed it on heavy glossy stock using a laser printer and backed each section with super heavy cardstock.
Each panel was trimmed so it would fit snugly into place in the box so no glue was necessary.
This will allow me to later replace or remove any of the pieces with ease later on if I choose.

Here is a PNG of the illuminated star I created on the background.
This is what the final illuminated star looked like alone.
I really liked the way it came out so I saved it as a png file so I would have it in my
collection of created stuff and I thought I'd share it with you other digital artists.
I've posted a larger version of it on my deviantART account HERE
A special thanks to “Obsidian Dawn” for creating her brush set
that allowed me to create the rays off my star.

This is one of those elements that works best in digital applications
(those using digital software like Photoshop)
The darker the background the more the star and rays "pop" so use it on
very dark backgrounds for the best effect.

Digital version of my nativity scene
Photos of projects don't always show as well as they should, so I created a digital version
of the assembled Nativity room so you get to see the details including
how well the star pops on the background. 

My Mom is from Spain so many of my Christmas traditions revolve around
Nativity scenes, Twelfth Night customs and the Three Wise Men.
Here in the States many think of Nativity stables like our barns; but at the time of Christ's birth, stables could be a variety of things such as a cave, a basement type enclosure below a family dwelling or a stone type enclosure.  I wanted my Nativity to symbolize that "old world" version rather than the wooden stable you might be more familiar with - just in case you were wondering.


Here are the photos I took after assembling my digitally created piece into the cigar box.

Full view of the decorated cigar box.
Here is a view of the entire box with all the panels in place.
The 4 side panels that comprise the walls, ceiling and floor were made about a 1/4 inch wider than the sides of the box so they could be folded back and form a "lip" around the scene.
This helped to hide the second wood surround that is inside the box and it also gives me a bit of a handle on each to assist me in removing the panels if later on I should need to do that.
All the panels are in so snugly that they stay in place on their own without glue and the lid closes easily, even with the folded over parts of the scenery.

View of the ceiling
Details are important in creating scenes and settings, especially 3-D versions, so
I gave my scene a ceiling that worked with the rest of items to retain the right atmosphere.

Another view into the Nativity box
The lid on the box is now the staging ground that leads up to the "stable" so it also needed to be decorated, since it will be where the Wisemen, shepherd and lamb will be placed. 

Close up view
 A set of stacked stone wall decorate the interior sides to mimic the effect that you see on the back wall; and a portion of an ancient cobblestone road was used as the floor of the scene.

Rubber Duck Nativity in a Box
This is how all the little ducks fit into the box.
I've wrapped up the extra platform in tissue, since it is wood
I did not want it to rub any of the ducks or scenery.

Here is another look at assembled and set up Nativity.

Front View - Rubber Duck Nativity in a Box by EKDuncan
Front Side View - Rubber Duck Nativity in a Box by EKDuncan
 Though the Nativity looks best head on it can be viewed from the side as well.

The same "box" concept can be done using any variety of boxes and if your box lid detaches then you can put it under the box or eliminate it from your scene entirely.  That would then give you more placement options in how the "extra" characters are placed in relation to the Holy Family.

Nativities have been a Christmas tradition in many families and as much as I love my traditional set and the antique sets my Mother has that will one day be mine; this is just a fun twist on celebrating the season with a nativity. It makes children of all ages smile. So don't be weary of a non-traditional nativity set if you see one, if it appeals to you get it and enjoy it.

Wishing you all a safe and very Merry Christmas Season.


Thanks to all of you who have sent me kind words and well wishes
regarding the recent loss of my beloved cat Sherlock.

Sherlock loved Christmas and spent most of his time under the decorated tree.
This year seems a bit less festive without him under the tree and Gigi was missing him there too.
We lucked up an found a "pseudo" Sherlock to place under the tree as a tribute him
and I thought I'd share this snuggle picture with you.


  1. Very unique and beautiful work Eve!
    Thank you so much for the wonderful FX! :)

    1. Thanks Sim - I like "odd" things and could not resist this as a project, so I'm glad you enjoyed it too. Enjoy the star!