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Setting off a Village Scene With a Backdrop

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Using Backdrops for Village or Nativity Scenes
A white card with cutouts of domes and gothic arches works as a background for a domed nativity.

A simple white card can be used as a backdrop for display pieces for a village scene.

Photo copyright 2009 Lesley Shepherd, Licensed to About.com Inc.

Five Reasons to Use Backdrops for Miniature Scenes These are the main reasons for using a backdrop with a miniature scene, Christmas village, or nativity set.

  • Covering Up Cords and Mess - Backdrops or background pieces come in very handy when hiding cords in places like mantelpieces where the cords would otherwise have to run across the back of the scene. A backdrop can be used to hide the tangle of cords needed for a lighted scene.
  • Bringing Light To Unlit Areas - A backdrop may be easier to light than some parts of the scene. You can cut out stars on a simple blue backdrop and set a row of battery operated LED lights on a shelf behind the openings, or set up a glowing moon to cast some light down into a dark area of a scene.
  • Limited Numbers of Pieces - If you have a village or nativity scene with limited numbers of similar pieces a backdrop will help transition the space between repeated pieces, allow you to extend the scene into the distance, or link your pieces with some which are similar but not exactly alike. The photo used to illustrate this page shows a collectible porcelain nativity piece, from a set which has only two styles of buildings. The display must be limited to repeats of the buildings, or extended with non matching pieces. Backdrops like the simple white card shown here (found in a card shop) can be used to break up the space between identical buildings and create the feeling that the buildings are on the outskirts of a city.
  • To Extend A Scene to Fit a Particular Space - If you want to extend a scene across a particular space and don't have quite enough buildings, or have an awkward leftover space somewhere in your display, you can construct a simple background for a transition. Try using a hill with sleds for a village scene, a set of trees on a small mountain, or a small city park to fill the space in your village with a natural progression. Re-examine how you have laid out your buildings. Should you leave the extra space at one end, or are you better to add a filler piece in the middle, linking sections of the scene. How will the lights from your village be affected by blank spaces, can you add lights via a backdrop to help balance the arrangement?
  • Helping a Viewer to Focus - Backgrounds can help to focus a view of a village by separating it from the clutter of furniture, views from a window, or other collectibles housed on the same shelf. You can use the other techniques mentioned, or use an appropriate photographic backdrop to draw people into your 'Dickens' village or sea side scene, while keeping the clutter of other ornaments or themes separate from the view in front of you.

Tip Keep searching for suitable pieces. The building shown here is very unique, but there are a surprising number of commercially available items which can be used as backdrops.

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