Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Craft Baby Jesus in A Walnut Shell

The walnut split in half and spray painted gold.
      There are a number of scenarios to keep in mind when one is considering the use of an unfamiliar material in a craft project. I hope to clear a few of these up for those students who craft frequently and who also are of the mind that one's craft can potentially lead to a small but necessary profit. How does she manage to crack walnuts into perfect halves you may ask? For if you have ever attempted to do so by means of a common nut cracker, you will indeed discover that this is impossible. 
      Walnuts, as you will soon discover, are not exactly cheap and one can hardly afford to crack dozens and have only a very few of those shells be cracked exactly in half. When crafting with walnuts, always select an English Walnut not a Black Walnut. No matter how superior in flavor the Black Walnut is, it is still not the walnut that is easiest to craft with. Even though the skins of Black Walnuts do make beautiful dyes for textiles, one must avoid them altogether if you should need to crack them perfectly; the English Walnut is by far the superior prospect. Fortunately for crafters, English Walnuts are the most commonly sold in grocery stores across North America, so students will have little difficulty in acquiring these for the project below.
      As you can see from the picture above, I have split the English Walnut perfectly. As implied from the photo, it was done with the aid of a single sided razor blade. Use a hammer and a wooden chopping block to split the walnut into two perfect halves as well. This part of the process must be done by an adult.
Glue the ribbons into place prior to adding
the clay figurine.
  1. Make sure your walnut is clean and dry.
  2. Place the walnut in the center of a thick wooden chopping block.
  3. Firmly position, by hand, the sharp end of a single sided razor blade into the natural seam or crevasse of the walnut shell.
  4. Tap lightly the wrapped dull edge of the razor with a hammer until you are certain that the sharp side of the razor is fixed into the walnut's seam firmly and will not slip out during the process.
  5. Then carefully hammer the blade down into the shell with a few downward strokes of the hammer.
  6. You will find that this technique gets easier as you become familiar with it. However, be cautious, you can seriously injure yourself with the razor blade or hammer
  7. Be sensible to use a clean razor for the project if you intend to eat the walnut meat. And by clean, I mean "never been used previously" for any other purpose before, just to be on the safe side of things. When in doubt, don't eat the walnut meat; feed it to the birds.
      After splitting your walnuts in two, make sure the outside surfaces are clean and smooth and the inside walnut meat is completely removed. Then you can line up the nut shells, smooth side up on top of newspapers and spray paint these with your choice of metallic gold or silver spray paint. As with most Chrismons, the colors of choice are traditionally gold and white, I have sprayed my versions shown above and below with gold paint.
      The next step in the assembly is to glue down the ribbons of the walnut ornament used to create the hanger. Sandwich the ribbon, wire, or gold thread (whatever you are using) between the clay and the shell of the walnut. Make sure that the hanger has been secured with glue to the shell prior to  adhering the air-dry clay figurine of the baby Jesus. This step will give the ornament a professional  appearance. (Pictured right and above.)
The baby Jesus in a walnut shell Chrismon. This particular one is made with a molded baby laying in a bed of straw. The molded piece is made with air-dry clay and is glued in place with tacky glue and then left over night to dry. I then painted it with acrylic paints and varnished it with Mod Podge. The halo was painted with gold glitter glue.
      The baby Jesus may be made either from a homemade press mold or push mold (see video here) , a purchased mold or from a tiny prefabricated baby or even a small wooden dowel. This part of the craft project will be completed according to the supplies that are available. I have linked to a wide variety of examples of the ornament below. 
      This traditional Christmas ornament craft may be turned into a Chrismon by using a gold and white color scheme and by teaching little ones the importance of celebrating the baby Jesus' birth found in the Bible, Luke Chapter 2, during the month of December.

The birth of our Lord Jesus.

More Versions of Baby Jesus in a Walnut Shell:
Entire Nativities in Walnut Shells!:

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