#832 Leaf Nativity

Acquired 2019

While in Dayton, Ohio, for the Friends of the Crèche Nativity Convention, we visited the Catholic Retreat Gift Shop. Of course, many nativities were displayed, but the one that caught my attention was this Leaf Nativity. Brother Don Smith, 82 years of age, is a clay sculpture artist, lives at the retreat, and had many items of his work on display. Among the elegant bowls, platters and figurines was this incredible Leaf Nativity! In that this fine gentleman was there I could personally talk to him and learn about his creation and have my picture taken with him. He finds fall colored leaves from the many trees around the retreat and uses them to press into his clay to get the actual shape of the leaf. Then the clay is cut to the leaf size, molded, fired and hand painted to create the 11 nativity pieces. He had only one set that had already been spoken for by another couple. He agreed to make one for me and send it to me. He even sent me a photo of the set, in progress of production, which I have included in this narrative. That set arrived late November – but five of the pieces arrived broken. I contacted him and he graciously agreed to replace the pieces. But, in that winter was setting in, he said he would have to use different leaves and it could take a while. I told him I could use the broken pieces for Christmas and that we would be gone the first of January, so I was in no hurry. True to his kind word, I received the replacement pieces in mid-January. Yes, some of the pieces are a bit different – but not by much and they are exquisite! I am grateful to now have a complete, unbroken, stunning, creative, one-of a kind, very special Leaf Nativity! Purchase price, $600, November 2018 – January 2019.