With the approach of Christmas, everyone strives to build a very personal crib, the almost omnipresent element is the river with an adjacent waterfall. Now I will give you tips on how to make a crib with a waterfall in a simple and inexpensive way.
Need to create water in the crib:
Before starting, you must have the following materials available on your work bench:
Plywood and polystyrene base
motor with cascade pump
large and high bowl
water resistant paint
once we have found all the materials we can proceed.
To revive a waterfall with real water, you need to buy a special motor, available for just a few euros. The base on which to build the crib with the waterfall must be solid and have a height difference of at least 15 cm. The plywood is very durable and the polystyrene is light and waterproof, which allows for optimal results. Make sure you have a compartment that contains the scooter below the surface, so you can also use a medium ice cream tray. Draw the contours of the same tray on the polystyrene surface and cut out the area with a cutter. used for the support, the edges of the same tray so that it simply sticks together: to do this, take the measurement starting from the base. Put the motor back in the tray and cut irregularly shaped pieces, one smaller than the other, to create different levels, fixing them with vinyl glue. Shape the steps of the drop created by chamfering the corners and creating on the top a sort of additional basin where the water will be collected. Also the path of the waterfall and the river will be excavated, creating a small basin for each level, in order to obtain a regular and not too fast water flow. Correct where it is needed, always using a cutter or a spoon. Carve the last stretch of the river with the waterfall down to the basin to create a fantastic lake. Attention it is necessary to give a guide to the water also using a piece of transparent plastic in the same polystyrene and creating a sort of channel. Before completing, also make a test with water to see if the path is suitable and that the liquid does not overflow at some point. Paint the waterfall and the course of the river, place the motor water pipe by making a hole with a screwdriver on the top and positioning the motor in the tank. Use hot glue to isolate the tray, the wires, and the various points to channel the water and you will have created the waterfall in a simple, cheap and fast way. If you happen to create holes in the river path, just apply some waterproofing vinyl glue.
If you happen to create holes in the river path, do not be alarmed, just apply waterproofing vinyl glue, and everything will be solved.
In the nativity scene determined by the desert landscape, typical of the narration of the Gospels, a small oasis cannot be missing that was used to water camels and shepherds during the long journey to reach the Bethlehem hut. Here are the directions to create an oasis in a simple way.
green paper or felt
glue and scissors
the supplies are easily available in DIY stores, in local markets or, if we are lucky, even rummaging in the attic and cutting out fabrics of useless clothing. It is advisable to mount our oasis on a piece of cardboard, so as to be able to position it at will with ease and not having to recreate it every Christmas. We place the blue silk creating a round pond without ripples, since the water in the oases is usually static due to lack of wind, and we stop the fabric using stones. Now let’s proceed with the construction of the palms, an essential element of the vegetation of a respectable desert oasis.
We take a broomstick and saw it in at least four parts 20 cm long each; from the dry pinecone we detach the various leaves and glue them around the trunk until complete coverage, creating that ripple of the trunk just like a real palm tree; in the upper part of the trunk we roll a bunch of wires, open them with a radius, and place the long green leaves, typical of palm trees; we draw a long leaf on the green paper and cut the edges with scissors all along the edge, but without getting to the bottom: we will have a fringed leaf that we will glue on the wire.
With this procedure we make the other three palms, and with stones we create a support for them so that they can remain upright. We then glue the pebbles around the base of the trunk so that the palms remain erect and it is easy to place them around our oasis. Try to exploit the material available to us in the most imaginative and realistic way possible. Each element could be an inspiration and recycle material at the same time. For example the filaments that cover the coconut: let’s take them and stick them on the stem of the plants. The message is to replace, where possible, the various materials indicated with similar pieces recycled from objects we have at home and no longer use.
Real water in the crib
To obtain the effect of water in the crib it must be taken into account that its use can be risky especially if near an electrical system. Always use low voltages on the level of the crib because it always remains within reach of visitors and the 220 Volt voltage could generate dangerous overheating. For a fountain we need a tray and a pump for water recycling. For this last we have to calculate the flow rate, how much water in a minute can lift from the tank, in order to correctly size the structure based on the size of the same fountain. The pumps used are those found in stores that sell aquariums of all sizes and capacities. The small pumps are so-called immersion pumps, ie they are immersed directly in the recycling tank, while other more powerful pumps are external to the tank.
In the previous diagram, here is the prospectus of a typical recessed fountain in a wall. This detail is extremely important as a wall must be prepared, for example of a house, where to place the fountain as shown in the photo.
The fountain must be inspectable especially for the part of the pump to allow a check on the water level and to obviate problems of obturation due to impurities and replacement of the same due to breakage.
The lining of the bathtub, which must be proportionate to the characters, ie it must not exceed ¾ of the height of the same, can be executed with polystyrene and polyurethane or even in blown cement which is a light and water resistant material and at the same time excellent for these applications, use silicone to improve the adhesion of the structures, being an elastic and resistant material.
The water outlet tube must be made of copper or plastic; on the market there are various types with various diameters. To connect the hose to the pump, fittings can be used which in most cases are supplied upon purchase. The pump has a potentiometer for controlling the flow of water. It is good in many cases after having done the work of coating the work, as seen in the structures section, you should use the insulation after the coloring phase to prevent the color from melting. For a better realistic effect add the colors of green, ocher, black Rome, especially in the cracks, in the corners and in the vicinity of the water outlet pipe to simulate the wear of time and the moss that sometimes grows in ancient fountains.
Water effect with resin in the crib
If we do not want to use moving water, we can opt for resins that perfectly simulate water, sold in model shops. This resin is of the two-component type, ie it is mixed with a catalyst, in appropriate quantities indicated in the instructions, and hardens over time, about 24 hours, and perfectly simulates the water in the tank. The fountain must be equipped with a raised bottom, since the effect of the resin already has one or two centimeters of this substance, the bottom can be of polystyrene, polyurethane plastered with plaster and colored, with blue mixed with green or brown , based on your preferences. The colored background will be visible because the resin is transparent. For the thread of water that falls from the tap, you can use braided fishing lines or broken optical fibers that can be immersed in the resin when it begins to harden, you will get a stunning result. This resin is also widely used to create ponds or synthetic rivers, or puddles. The river or the pond is obtained with the plaster technique in addition to the resin.
In the previous figure one of the most used resins is shown, available in model shops. This resin is two-component, that is to say, to make it harden it must be mixed with a component typically a catalyst. Once the product has been prepared, in appropriate percentages shown on the package, it is necessary to wait for the product to harden for at least 12 hours.
An example of a fountain with resin and transparent threads to get the effect of the water that comes out of the tube.
The diagram shows that the thickness, and therefore the quantity of resin to be placed inside the fountain must not be excessive. In most cases, a quantity of 1, 1.5 cm is required to achieve the desired effect. Remember to color the background with a green-blue tone, in fact the resin tends to make the color shine through.
An example of a fountain in which the resin, used to simulate water, can be seen on the edge and on the floor.
The river in the crib
To obtain a river it is necessary to pay close attention to taking all the necessary steps to avoid the risk of water loss and efficiency. First of all it is necessary to have a draft of the course of the river to be realized. The source of the river and the end must be concealed with ingenuity, the spring will have the pipe that will carry the water and at the end there will be recycling. The river must lay on a single plane without interruption, unless, for example, a waterfall is desired
This represents a rough outline for the realization of the river, now let’s concentrate on the practical realization of it.
The pump can also be immersed, ie directly immersed in the recycling tank, in the diagram a non-immersion is used, in which case the recycling tank must have a hole from which the water comes out. A sink drain is used inside the tank made of plastic and suitable fittings. Once the support surface is available, draw the path, bearing in mind that for the rules of perspective at the source the course must be narrower and as it goes down it must be wider. The loops are also drawn, although care must be taken that the same from the point of view where the visitor is chosen to place, do not conceal the view of the flowing water.
In the figure a plane with the river edges already set, these edges must be wider than the desired final result. To hide the source and recycle parts, you can use jute or foam rubber mountains. Another very important thing to underline is the slope, in fact the river must be placed on a slight slope for sliding. This must not be excessive, in a crib the water must necessarily flow slowly and sweetly, so the top must be tilted a little at the most 5-6%, that is, a few centimeters are enough to make it slide. So as seen in the elevation, there must be a horizontal plane and an inclined plane where the river itself flows. These floors must be durable and elastic because the structure, if very large, could weigh enough. Use wooden shims to raise the back of the river’s runway, better to use screws instead of nails because of their greater resistance to stress and ease of use. Once the course has been designed, the river edges must be created to create the actual bed. The edges must be made using pieces of cantinella screwed to the support surface that follow the pattern you have in mind.
Once the edges have been fixed, a whole sheet of plastic must be placed which must be inserted into the bed and on the edges so that it protrudes well outside. Before this step, to glue the plastic sheet, use the resin used to insulate the outdoor terraces, there are also types soluble in water, of different colors, opt for the blue color. With a brush sprinkle the surface and the edges and glue the plastic, this plastic must protrude from the bed to the source and above all to the mouth, be careful not to pierce it in these areas.
After this procedure which represents an additional security to the leaks and humidity, let’s proceed with the construction of the bed, simulating a real one with stones and soil. On the edges it is necessary to use pieces of plywood supported with silicone, to prevent the water from rising to the surface and creating humidity in the ground.
The images illustrate the positioning of the plywood edges, very useful to act as a link between the river bed and the surrounding countryside. The plastic was laid by gluing it with the resin to the top, naturally creases will be created originating from the curvature.
The edge of plywood sectioned at will, is glued with silicone on the plastic on the edge, in this case of normal wine racks. The images show how the resin was placed with a brush for greater safety on the plastic. Note that the same plastic is placed in abundance at the end of the river to allow the cascade in the recycling tank. After this work, the bed is worked, at this point the jute or cloth is spread inside. To do this it is necessary that the jute is well shaped in the edges and absolutely does not touch the plywood that was previously placed. In this way the water will not be able to rise on the edge, thus also avoiding the humidity that inevitably tends to rise in the crib. The jute can be glued with silicone or with the resin previously seen or simply supported.
Proceed with the jute lining, to do this it is necessary to use the quick-setting cement to brush liquid on the jute so that it adheres to the texture of the fabric. It can also be mixed with small stones, wood briquettes, with a brown or ocher ground color to gray cement, to give a more natural shade. While brushing the cement you can glue pebbles that will have to be placed where you want the water to flow. To color the bottom of the river you can use acrylic paint mixed with vinavil, to get a longer lasting effect over time, or color the bottom and then isolate it with transparent resin.
An example of a river with water, plastered with white chalk with the addition of pebbles on the edges inserted with cemen
Here is an example of a completed river, complete with vegetation of a fisherman to make the result even more realistic. From the image, the river bed is much narrower than the initial drawing. This observation is necessary in order to be able to design the abundant measurements both in height and in width and to avoid that some parts can make the water escape or be not visible to the observer.
Recall that since the edges are raised with respect to the work surface, it is necessary to fill the edge so that the land surrounding the river is at the same height as the edge, so as it was said at the beginning the river must be placed almost perpendicular to it. to the observer because if you move sideways the flow of water disappears.
Resins and waterfall for nativity scenes
Transparent insulation resins are very useful for waterproofing the structure of a river or a waterfall and therefore it is necessary to study the topic further.
In the figure an example of resin to isolate from the water that comes in grains, sold in fine art shops because used in the restoration of paintings. Previously we saw that to construct a river, or a waterfall, more complicated from a structural point of view, instead of using cement, one opts for the plaster technique, the same that we have seen to make the rocks. If we want to get a waterfall, we need to create a structure that supports everything, even from where the water comes out, which is then conveyed into a basin to be recycled.
Everything is built along the lines of the one previously seen with jute and cement but if we want to use the plaster technique we can also do it. First of all we need to create the structure that will support the material.
In the picture we show a typical structure for a waterfall. To make it, it is necessary to prepare the hole for the source in which to place the tube coming from the immersion pump. The immersion pump (the one used for aquariums), must be sized according to the height of the waterfall, in fact, in the specifications of the same, it is shown the maximum height of the water lifting force that is necessary to understand how to size the waterfall, especially in height. Next, we prepare the bed where the water flows, which can be made of wood and plywood and covered with plastic and jute. At this point, to obtain the bottom, the rocks and the whole remaining part, we resort to the plaster technique, with rocks constructed in polystyrene, covering the bottom, and avoiding the creation of holes in the structure. Once the plaster has dried and colored, the transparent resin is treated. This resin is placed on the structure by brush and dissolved with solvents, usual acetone or alcohol. There are some resins on the market that are hot melted in a saucepan. Obviously, as mentioned above, the coloring must take place before the application of the resin which, being transparent, allows the vision of the color that has been prepared. The laying of the resin takes place with several coats, until the structure is completely covered. Subsequently it is necessary to proceed with a recycling, this usually happens with the use of a basin, arranged to house the pump and to allow the water to fall into a structure able to receive it without leaks. Isolate all the areas that are in contact with the ground surrounding the basin and the waterfall, since the water tends to dampen the ground and in time wets the exterior of the structure causing damage.
Here is shown a waterfall made entirely of silicone, to demonstrate that there is a way to achieve a realistic result even with the use of artificial products. The aforementioned products are sold on the net and are resins and silicone suitable to simulate the effect of the water in movement, exploiting the optical effect, because the water is fixed and static.