We began by making the most crucial people in the story: Jesus, Mary, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene, Simon of Cyrene, and Veronica. The initial plan was to make one "weeping woman" and then add more over the years, but we ended up making two of them. In retrospect, we should have also made John, since he was the only apostle to remain near throughout the whole ordeal. How could I have forgotten to make my favorite Gospel writer? Oh, well - he's first on the list for the next time we make additional figures! The possibilities are plentiful for who else to add to the story: all the apostles and a table for the Last Supper, Barabbas, Joseph of Arimathea, several soldiers, the Jewish high priests, Pilate's wife, Simon's sons, the servant whose ear gets cut off by Peter (Cecilia is fascinated by this, ha ha!)...
Here is how to form the body. It is very basic: just cut a pipe cleaner to the desired length for two arms and glue it to the back of the clothespin so that they arms stick out evenly on each side. Then glue small wooden beads on each end to serve as hands.
For the girls, I usually taper it at the ends when cutting so that it is sort of dress-shaped... they just end up looking a bit more feminine this way. Again, I just cut freehand, holding the fabric together front and back, and making sure that the clothespin will have plenty of "breathing room" inside the garment. Then I glue up the sides with the glue gun. You could stitch them up if you wanted then to look really snazzy!
I use embroidery floss to tie the garments, especially those that I know will not be removed. This doll's clothes will not come off because the sides of the dress have been glued together. When I made Jesus's tunic, I wanted it to be removable, so I did not glue up the sides at all and tied it with yarn, which is easier for little hands to tie and untie. A this point, hair can be added to the head using the yarn and glue gun.
Here's how the mantle/veil is formed: I cut a small piece of felt into a rectangle and then put glue over the hair just above her forehead and then over the back of her head, and then I pressed the felt in place. You can add more glue underneath if the veil is looking like it will try to fly away... try to shape it to the head somewhat and it will look more natural.
Then you can draw a face. This is a weeping woman, obviously. Some people don't want to put faces on them, and it makes sense so that Mary Magdalen can be crying at the crucifixion and then be overjoyed when she finds out Jesus has risen, but honestly, they kinda creep me out when they have no faces. It disturbed Caroline when I made out model of a priest to dress in different colored vestments throughout the Liturgical year, and she insisted on a face. he really does look more normal with two eyes and a smile! So, some of my Passion Play figures here might have inappropriate facial expressions for some scenes... oh well. At least they don't look spooky to me.
Here is the variation for a boy's clothing. Sometimes I also just leave it straight on the sides and maybe cut the felt a bit skinnier, if I am going to not glue it and have it be removable. This is a permanent garment, so the sides were glued up.
This one ended up being Simon. His hair is embroidery floss (seems to work better for short hair), and his belt was made by braiding some brown yarn.
Here is the basic figure for Jesus. You can see that I failed to line his legs up with his arms correctly, and so his feet are turned off to the side... oh, well. I also had some thin linen-type cloth and used it for his undergarments, and for any other undergarments, the burial cloths, swaddling cloths for babies, whatever.
Here is his white robe for Easter Sunday, the resurrection. I have since added some gold rick-rack to the bottom of the robe. It is open on the sides for easy removal.
Here is Jesus in his seamless tunic and crown of thorns, standing before Pontius Pilate (who Caroline wanted to wear green). His little headband thing is supposed to look like those leaves that Romans are often depicted wearing on the sides of their heads... do those have an official name?? I trimmed his robes in gold to make him look more official. A seashell is used for the bowl in which he washed his hands to show he was not wanted to be seen as responsible.... you can really get creative with what you use for each item! Acorn caps glued to heads could be helmets for soldiers, for instance.
Here is what we are storing them in for now... a wooden rounded bowl. When turned over, it makes a good hill for Golgotha! Extra felt can be used for grass, dirt, the road...
And here is the tomb. I used a basic papier mache recipe of flour, water, and salt. Then I covered a small bowl with plastic wrap. We laid strips of paper dipped in the papier mache across the bowl until we had several layers and then let it dry. It took a few days.