Frequently Asked Questions

What is your art background/experience?

I have a Bachelor's degree in Art and additional hours in advertising, design and illustration.

Having been a carpenter for many years, I have been able to marry my woodworking and construction skills with my artistic talent and vision to create truly unique Nativity Settings.

What prompted you to build your first manger scene? How was it received?

In 2002, the Cathedral of St. Raymond Nonnatus asked me if I would be interested in building a new Nativity Scene for the parish. I enthusiastically agreed, and after considerable research, I constructed a period-correct créche that was scaled one half life size and designed to fit a side altar niche.

I was very satisfied with the result of my efforts and everyone loved it! The bishop, rector, parishioners and visitors alike were amazed. The time invested in research and design paid off in producing a créche unlike any with which people were familiar. Children are particularly mesmerized by the scene. They kneel or sit and stare in wonder.

What is the first step in the process?

Whenever possible, a face to face meeting is desirable. It is very important that I get to know you and your expectations. Because each setting is unique, your input is essential. I will ask questions, look over the environment and the nativity figures, and encourage you to brainstorm ideas that will make your nativity setting personal to your Christian community. If meeting in person is not possible, we can communicate via e-mail, exchanging ideas and photos.

As the process proceeds, I am able to develop an understanding of what designs will satisfy your expectations. The location of the créche is always a major consideration because it dictates the size and sometimes the style. Architectural features of the church can be a design element to be incorporated into the nativity setting. The size of the nativity figures will determine the scale of the créche and their style may influence the design. Sometimes a rather insignificant feature or idea may be the seed that is nurtured into a mature concept. All these variables contribute to a final design that will be personalized and meet or exceed your expectations.

From where do you take your inspiration?

In addition to the client's input and environmental considerations, I am constantly researching and accumulating a library of reference material. Anywhere I travel I am aware of architecture that may be useful in the future. While designing a nativity scene that would be considered historically accurate is a goal, we should not feel constrained by this. Any design that respects the spirit of Christmas is encouraged.

What do you provide to help us make a decision?

After brainstorming together I render drawings based on our conversations incorporating the ideas and design elements we.ve discussed. After I submit my concepts to you, we discuss them and decide if any revision is necessary. When we agree on the final plans, construction begins.

Who sets up the Nativity Scene the first time?

It is my intention to assist in the initial set-up to make sure the créche is assembled correctly as well as to train members of the church community to do it in the future. Normally only 2 or 3 people are required to assemble the créche, but I encourage a half dozen or more participate to make the job easier as well as to have as many people trained as possible. It is helpful to have someone video as well as photograph the process for future reference. Following this procedure should make subsequent set-ups a simple task. If you do run into a snag, I am available by phone at any time.

How can we store the créche and how much room does it take?

Each créche is designed in foldable subassemblies. Even though the nativity scene looks substantial when assembled, I use durable, lightweight materials that can be easily folded, carried by one or two people and stored in an area roughly four feet square. If space is not an issue, some subassemblies may be left assembled for quicker set-up

How much does a Nativity Scene cost?

Due to the fact that each Nativity Scene is custom, it is impossible to have a predetermined price. Every commission demands a unique set of specifications, such as the size and number of nativity figures to be accommodated. Would an elevated platform be required? Does the setting call for a backdrop? Will the nativity be viewed only from the front or from all sides? Travel and delivery outside the Chicago area will be a factor also. These are just some of the variables that must be addressed before we can arrive at a cost for your Nativity Scene.