I had a nice chat with a gentleman from Texas, who shared with me a neat method of securing outdoor Nativity figures to guard against theft, vandalism and toppling over in the wind. He said he got the idea originally from his mother in law or perhaps his father in law, in that it came through his wife who got it from her family.
Living in a windy area, they like to tether or secure any figures they display outside and this method seems to do the trick. It calls for measured lengths of gas pipe, which is about one half to one inch in diameter along with the pipe brackets used to secure the pipe to a wall or ceiling. Usually, these are attached to a surface with short screws. What he does is measure and cut the pipe to the length needed for short or tall figures and for one or two attachments. He then drives the appropriate pipe into the ground deep enough to be firmly secure and then attaches the pipe to the figure with the screws and pipe brackets.
If he is setting up a 2D wood figure Nativity set, this is easy because he has flat surfaces to attach to. When using this method with three dimensional filled resin or fiberglass figures you must be careful to find a nearly flat surface, use short screws and proceed slowly so not to crack the statue material. This method may not work for statues with thin sections and many compound curves. Use you own judgment and be cautious. It’s not worth destroying a figure to protect it. We have discussed other, non invasive methods in this blog.
This is the fourth and final posting in this series. I welcome any thoughts and suggestions from customers and visitors as to what more I can add to this information.
How Long Should my Nativity Set Last?
The modern Nativity Set (which sounds like a contradiction in terms) is really a piece of sculpture art and should be treated as such. Despite their durable construction, the figures will break or crack if they are dropped or fall over onto a hard surface such as frozen ground or a concrete walkway. As a result, we try to ship all of our large Nativity figures by truck in reinforced cartons attached to wood pallets rather than expose them to the abuse they receive when shipped with the various package delivery services. If the figures sit in water, even if it does not freeze, the paint is likely to chip or flake. If the Nativity figures are cleaned with a detergent or liquid cleaner or washed off with a power washer or high pressure hose, the surface may chip off or be damaged.
We recommend at the end of the Christmas season, the figures should be brought under cover or inside and allowed to dry. Dirt, bird droppings or other debris should be wiped off gently with a slightly damp cloth and the figures should be stored in a dry area, preferably in the original shipping cartons.
Please keep in mind that these figures are under your care, custody and control so they cannot be guaranteed by the manufacturer, importer or retailer. Nevertheless, assuming a five or six week annual display period and proper care, cleaning and storage, your Nativity set should last a good long time
This is the third installment of our series. We hope you find it useful.
How do I secure my Nativity Set against theft and damage?
Unfortunately Nativity figures displayed outdoors are a ready target for vandalism and theft. Every Christmas season brings newspaper and web reports of a stolen or damaged Christ Child,Nativity animal or even a King. Much of this can be attributed to teenage dares and drunken hi-jinks, but a small percentage is malicious.
No security method, including locks and chains will prevent a determined thief from taking a Nativity figure. Nevertheless, you can tether or attach your pieces to your Nativity stable or to the ground in such a way as to deter an easy “snatch and run” A wood post or concrete reinforcing bar driven into the ground behind the figure can then be attached to the figure with small link chain, flexible wire or even nylon fishing line. When a wood stable is part of the display, pieces of steel plasterboard lath can be bent at right angles ( if it isn’t already 90 deg) and can be screwed to the stable base and attached to the figure. We do not recommend driving a screw into the fiberglass or polyresin figures as they can crack.
Any of these methods will also be suitable to prevent the figures being tipped over by vandals or being blown over by high winds. Tall figures falling onto hard surfaces or frozen ground are likely to crack.
Last week we began a series discussing some of the important factors to consider when choosing a Nativity set and we focussed on outside display. This week we will talk about lighting and security.
How Should I light My Set?
The hollow ” blow mold” nativity sets, so popular and visible for the last forty years have been replaced by solid molded statues. I won’t get into the reasons for this transition which are a combination of manufacturing and shipping economics. I will say that this change has left many “blow mold” collectors very disappointed. The ” blow mold” pieces are hollow plastic shells and are lighted from the inside with 7 watt and 25 watt bulbs contained in UL/CSA listed electrical components.
The new, solid Nativity figures must be lighted with spotlights. If displayed outside, these spotlights must be designed and approved for outdoor use by UL or some other electrical authority. The spotlights may be purchased at your local or big box hardware store for less than ten dollars. Please follow their installation instructions carefully and do not install in standing water or very damp environments
The Nativity set figures can be displayed in and around a wood Nativty stable and the lighting can be used to create a dramatic scene.
Today I will start a series about some of the things we consider important when choosing a Nativity Set. Despite and perhaps because of, the increasingly secular nature of the Christmas holiday season, more amd more Christians are opting to celebrate the original reason for the holiday by displaying a Nativity Set, with or without the other symbols, such as a Christmas tree.
If you are buying for your home, church, office, school or hospital, there are several factors to consider:
Will it be displayed outside?
If you intend to set up your Nativity outside, the figures should be made of a durable material such as wood, fiberglass reinforced resin, concrete or resin filled and reinforced with stone marble or sand ( usually called polyresin). The paint should be weather and sunlight resistant and also UVA ( ultraviolet A ) resistant. Of course, even the most durable finish will fade when exposed to daily sun and weather over the years. We assume that you intend to display your set for the five or six weeks of the Christmas holiday season.
Nativity sets displayed outside should be lighted with spotlights and should be large enough to be visible to motorists or pedestrians passing by