As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.
In El Salvador and many other Latin American countries, the nativity scene, or “nacimiento” is not the quiet, traditional scene most Americans are used to. In addition to Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus, barnyard animals, a shepherd and three wisemen, Salvadoran nativity scenes can take up a whole room and look like an entire village complete with soccer players, musicians, and figures of favorite TV characters.
If you wanted a pupusería (restaurant that sells pupusas) for your nativity this year, you’re in luck! Here’s how you can make your own custom pupusería, either for your nacimiento or to gift to someone as a decoration.
How to make: a Pupusería for your Nacimiento
What you need:
1 primed inside corner crown moulding block
1 pack wide hobby [popsicle] sticks (found in hardware in the drawers labeled “hobby”)
hot glue gun and glue sticks
Valspar paint samples and/or craft paint in various colors
hobby-size craft paint brushes
newspaper (to protect the surface you’re working on)
Optional (to make people or animal figures):
craft board (light, thin wood)
First you’re going to want to place some painter’s tape halfway up the “walls” as shown so that you’ll have a clean line when you paint. Many Salvadoran houses are painted in two colors like this, but you can paint it just one color if you wish. You will also want to paint the “roof” a brownish color so that any spots that show through won’t be obvious when you’re done with the roof tiles.
To make the traditional looking “tejas” roof tiles which are popular in parts of El Salvador, you’ll be using the wide popsicle sticks (also called “hobby sticks.) Cut as many as you need with the pliers for the first row which you’ll hot glue to the roof. Mine were about 1 1/2 inches long, but I think it would have worked better if I cut them slightly shorter.
For the corners, you may need to cut your roof tiles with the scissors so they’re beveled (see photo.)
Once you hot glue the first row, you may find it necessary to put a few layers of hot glue and allow it to harden on parts of the roof before you add the next row to give yourself a more even surface to work on.
You may also find that cutting some of the roof tiles in a “tear drop” shape, as shown, will work better in some areas.
I’m not going to lie – the roof took a long time and it was far from perfect. I’m definitely not going to be hired as a roofer anytime soon! However, once you have it all tiled, you’re ready to paint it.
I didn’t have a specific Valspar color on hand that I felt was the right shade so I ended up mixing my own color. You want sort of a dark reddish-orange. After I painted them that color, I used a dry brush in dark brown paint to add a little more detail.
Feel free to get creative with whatever details you want to add. As you can see, I painted a little potted plant on the outside wall near the entrance.
As for the figures of the woman and the dog, I just traced their shapes on craft board and cut them out with a jigsaw. Sand the edges until they’re smooth and then you can paint them as you wish.
If you look closely, you can see a little plate of pupusas inside. For that I used a wooden nickel (available in the “hobby” drawer in the Hardware department), which I painted blue. For the pupusas, I used a knife to slice a rubber cork from a wine bottle into little discs and painted them. Once dry, I hot glued the pupusas to the plate and hot glued the plate to the little triangular ledge on the inside.
When I went to paint the pupusería’s sign on a popsicle stick to hot glue to the outside wall, my younger son walked by the table. He pointed to the figure of the woman which I had already painted and he said, “Is that you?” … I decided then that it would be my pupusería. (And yes, I spelled my name the Salvadoran way!)
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