An artist in conversation with art history, and in love with the Source of all Beauty.

9.27.2014

Crucifix Craft

Children need beauty as much as any adult. In fact, when we pay attention to providing an aesthetically pleasing environment for children, it fosters the growth of their creativity and visual/conceptual skills. But here's a research paper so you don't have to take my word for it: http://www.li.suu.edu/library/circulation/Gubler/eced3930rgThingOfBeautyOnline08.pdf

Perhaps more importantly, if children learn to love beauty, they will love what is true and good.

With that in mind, when we moved into our new house, I realized that we lacked crucifixes for our children's room. It's strangely difficult to find a nice looking crucifix these days, and if I did manage to find one, I didn't want a blessed and expensive object to wind up broken or on the floor despite my 2-year-old's best intentions.  So I thought, maybe I could make one that he could handle:

I found an unfinished wood hanging cross and a small unfinished wood plaque at Michaels. I sawed the slightly curved end off the bottom of the cross using a miter box and a handsaw. Then I screwed them together (I drilled a pilot hole first), and painted them brown (Daniel Smith brand Burnt Umber). Next I found a suitably beautiful looking piece of art on the web and resized it to fit on the cross. This is from St. Dominic Adoring the Crucifixion by Fra Angelico (left). I printed it on digital photo paper using my plain old inkjet printer, cut out the corpus and the INRI sign and glued them to the cross. I finished the whole thing with 2 coats of acrylic matte medium for a little protection. Now my son J uses it on his "altar" (Ikea dresser) to play Mass. I'll write a post about that another time.
My 4-year-old daughter, S, wanted one too of course. I found this little 4" x 3" wooden standing cross at Hobby Lobby. It has a small inset perfect for gluing art into!

 I decided to go with an Italo-Byzantine style crucifix this time. Cimabue painted this one to hang in the Basilica di Santa Croce, Florence.  I asked S paint the entire cross Ultramarine Blue. Cimabue's famous pupil, Giotto, was very fond of that color. Like the first project, I re-sized and printed the artwork on digital photo paper, cut it out and let S help me glue it into the inset. Then I painted the edges with gold craft paint (it looks a little better in real life) and finished it all with 2 coats of acrylic matte medium. This sits on her dresser along with a hand-embroidered picture of the Holy Family that her aunt brought her from Egypt.
If you would like to make these without the work of finding and re-sizing Wikipedia images, you can download a free template here:

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