Tim Schmalz with his clay Nativity scene Photo by Vanessa Santilli

Creating Nativity likened to chess match

By 
  • December 23, 2011

Creating a sculpture is like playing a game of chess, said sculptor Tim Schmalz of his expanding clay Nativity scene. 

"Your opponent does one move and that will determine your move," said Schmalz. "And with doing a multi-figured sculptural scene like this, I have to react with the central piece… I have to monitor what person plays what role within this drama."

Schmalz worked on his sculpture of baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph at the sixth annual Friends of the Crèche International Convention in November and is currently working on adding the three wise men, shepherds, an angel and animals to the scene. He hopes to have the sculpture completed by Christmas.

Having created the first wise man and shepherd so far, he wanted to give a nod to different religions at this time of our spiritual celebrations, he said.

Using creative license, the first wise man is based on the philosopher Averroes, who brought the ideas of Aristotle to his Islamic faith, said Schmalz. The other two will also be based on famous medieval philosophers.

"Obviously these philosophers were not the actual people that were there but it gives… a wonderful respect to these different cultures during this time of peace and goodwill."

Once the sculpture reaches completion, Schmalz will be making smaller ones suitable for houses and larger ones suitable for churches. To date, Schmalz has put in between 40 and 50 hours of work on the sculpture.

Not quite half complete, it's already becoming quite heavy currently weighing around 140 kilograms, he said.

"My work becomes my prayer," he said. "And if you can use your skill as your prayer, that's a very cool thing."

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