15 October 2008

Operation Ceppo

I had to bring something downstairs to the "holiday closet" during lunchtime today and looked up to see the box with our "ceppo." You might call this an "Italian Christmas tree." Most ceppos are pyramid shaped, but this is an alternate style. A traditional ceppo usually has a Nativity scene on the largest level, and other levels contain food gifts and other little Christmas keepsakes, with candles on each level on each of the four corners.

This was the only Christmas decoration I put up the year my mom died.

ceppo with nativity and Christmas tree

We always put it in the den in the old house; the tree was upstairs in the living room, a room we seldom used unless we needed a book (the library was located there), had company, or at Christmas. The miniature tree on top was our tree downstairs in the den, where Bandit and later Pigwidgeon lived and where we spent all our time.

All the decorations on the ceppo were packed in a cardboard box with the ceppo, which I had built several—maybe it's more like "many" since I'm pretty sure it's at least twelve years ago!—years ago from two circular plaques 8 inches in diameter, one 6 inch diameter circular plaque, and a 1 inch diameter dowel cut into three pieces, after seeing a drawing of one in the book Celebrate the Wonder. I finished it right before Christmas, so never got a chance to paint it before it was time to decorate. You can tell in the photo that it is still "au natural."

And every year, instead of keeping it out to paint, I bundled it away immediately because it had to go to the very back of the top shelf of the little closet we used for the Christmas decorations if everything was to fit.

Seeing the box down in the new, larger closet, unencumbered and not containing anything but some silver tinsel rope and the little nativity figurines, made me think once more about painting it.

I decided to paint the bottom shelf white since the figures there are for a snow scene with St. Nicholas. The "snow" I had previously was made of cotton balls; I want to paint the lower level and then treat it with the three types of white glitter I have to simulate snow. The second level will be painted a sand color since that is where the little nativity set, a Hallmark miniature set which I bought one year at Thalls Pharmacy in Cranston, will go. I am thinking of getting some little trees or bushes to go in the rear to make it look more realistic. Since in the past two years I have put the ceppo on the china cabinet, where you can't see the top level, I could just paint that level white also, but should I find another place for it, I would love to put the angel and the star up there, as it used to be when I originally built it (before I had the miniatures tree on top). So I would want it blue for the sky.

My original thought was to paint the edges of the "rounds" and the vertical dowels in silver, to match the silver snowflakes I had around the top edge of the bottom level. Then I found a bottle of "Metallic Blue Pearl" from a previous project in my paint stash. I decided to use that for the top level and it is so lovely I want to use it for the edges and the verticals as well. The silver snowflakes will go perfectly with the silvery blue paint. I'll need to buy another bottle first, I think, as well as the sand-colored paint. So that's what this week's Michael's coupons will go for.

It will be odd to have it painted; it's been "natural" for so long! :-)

[Later: Well, cool! I may have enough of the blue after all...I'm crossing fingers. For the second level I painted the area that will be in the back a sage green I had, then dry-brushed a little brown and yellow on it so it would look like winter grass. At the front where the stable will be I mixed up "beachcomber beige" and "real brown" from my small set of Apple Barrel gloss paint set and made a sandy area, which I sprinkled with a little bronze glitter and a little gold glitter...not enough to make it glitzy, but just to give it a little shimmer where the Christ Child will be. (90 percent of it will be under the stable structure anyway!) Then I gave a first coat to the edge with the blue. It looks like I have enough for a second coat, which is all it may need.

Then all I need to do is put another coat of white on the bottom level and sprinkle it with the different white glitters.]

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