Introduction: Life-Sized Scarecrow With Stand
My mother and I didn't want to buy one of the crappy scarecrows at Michael's or Jo-Ann's, so we decided to design and build our own. We used PVC for the frame, so it's lightweight and waterproof, and stuffed him with packing materials. There was some trial-and-error, so some of the pictures show the steps a little differently, but hopefully everything is clear. We think he looks pretty awesome!
Step 1: Materials & Supplies
For the scarecrow:
- 10ft piece of 1" PVC tubing, cut ($3.50)
- 3 caps and one 4-way connector for 1" PVC ($4.64)
- PVC glue ($4.50)
- trash bags and/or dry cleaning bags (on hand)
- air pockets and/or packing peanuts (on hand)
- old clothes (on hand, or a few bucks at Goodwill)
- decorative straw hat ($1.85 with coupon at Michael's)
- bandana ($1)
- large package of raffia (about $4 with coupon at Jo-Ann Fabrics)
- 12" balloon (on hand, or $2.49 for a package of them)
- 18" of 45" fabric, or an old pillowcase with its lengthwise seams ripped out (unbleached cotton muslin is super cheap at Jo-Ann Fabrics)
- some newspaper (on hand)
- gallon ziploc bag (on hand)
- clear packing tape (on hand)
- safety pins (on hand)
- needle and thread (on hand)
- hot glue gun (on hand)
- string, cord, or twine (on hand)
- face decorations, such as buttons, fabric, felt, embroidery floss, etc.
For the stand:
- 2ft piece of 1.25" PVC tubing ($2.70)
- concrete block or bucket (on hand)
- concrete mix ($2.98 for a 60lb bag; you don't need nearly so much, but Home Depot didn't have a smaller bag)
- containers and a wooden spoon for mixing
- a plastic bag
- a stiff piece of cardboard
- plastic wrap
Total cost: $23 (can be cheaper or more expensive, depending on what you already have)
Step 2: Cut the PVC and Make the Stand
Have your 10 ft length of PVC cut into four pieces: one 5 ft, one 1 ft, two 2 ft. The people at the hardware store can cut it for you, or you can do it with a hand saw. Your 1" PVC should fit nicely inside the 1.25" piece; it should slide in easily but not wobble around once inside. You will embed the 2 ft PVC in concrete, so you can set and remove the scarecrow from the stand by sliding the frame into and out of the tube.
Work outside to make the stand. Line your bucket or concrete block with a plastic bag and set it on a stiff piece of cardboard (not necessary if using a bucket). We used a single concrete block, but if you can get one of the double concrete blocks, that's even better. If you're using a bucket, try to find one that is short and wide. You want the stand to be as bottom-heavy as possible.
Working in small batches, stir some water and concrete mix together until it is the consistency of lumpy mud. Wrap the bottom end of the 2 ft PVC in plastic wrap and stand it up in the block. Add the concrete around the PVC until the block is full. It is helpful to put the 5 ft PVC into the 2 ft PVC to help ensure that it is straight. Remove the 5 ft PVC, allow to cure, then trim the excess plastic bag.
Step 3: Make the Body
The 5 ft piece is the body piece, 1 ft is the head, and the 2 ft pieces are the arms. Assemble them into a cross using the connector, and place the end caps on the head and arm pieces. Put the shirt onto the frame by "dislocating" one arm, then re-locate the arm. Glue all four pieces into the 4-way connector using PVC glue, following the manufacturer's instructions. We neglected to do this, so we had to open up our scarecrow later, and it was much more difficult.
Use dry cleaning bags for the limbs, cutting and taping with packing tape to make them narrower if you like. You can use garbage bags if that's what you have already.
Tape the hanger-holes shut, and insert the leg bags into the pants, open end toward the waist. Stuff with rolls of air pockets for a smooth, rounded look. You can use packing peanuts or crumpled newspaper if you don't have air pockets.
Once the legs are stuffed, it's time to make the pelvis. Cut a slit a few inches down the inseam of each leg bag. Tape the fronts of the legs together, and tape the backs of the legs together, to form one big circular opening. Stuff the pelvis, then tape shut.
Put the arm bags over the arm poles. Stuff the arms in the same way as the legs, then tape the openings shut around the arm poles.
Use a garbage bag and packing peanuts (or crumpled newspaper) for the torso. Fold and tape the sides of the bag to make it slimmer and don't overstuff, unless you want an obese scarecrow. Tie the garbage bag shut around the base of the neck pole, but don't tape yet.
Hold the pants up by making "suspenders". Tie a piece of string around the back side belt loop, loop the string over the shoulder pole (inside the shirt), and tie around the front side belt loop. Repeat for the other side. Use a bow for now so you can make adjustments once he's standing.
Set the scarecrow up on your stand. Finish stuffing the torso and adjust the suspenders as needed. Make sure the pants hang evenly; you may need to top up the pelvis (just cut and re-tape the bag if you need to). When the torso is stuffed to your satisfaction, button the shirt and tape the torso bag to the neck pole. You may wish to stuff another pair of rolls of air pockets into the shirt to serve as shoulders. If using other packing materials, put them in ziploc bags first so they're waterproof.
Step 4: Make the Head
Inflate a 12" balloon. Hold it up to your scarecrow to check the proportions, and make sure the hat fits.
Get out your fabric or opened pillowcase, and lay it out. Lay newspaper on top, and tape and cut the newspaper so it forms a sort of lining on top of the fabric.
Lay your balloon on the fabric/newspaper with its length perpendicular to the length of the fabric, then roll it up into a cylinder. Tape the back seam shut. Gather/fold the material at one end of the tube and tape; this is the top of the head.
Place the top of the head into the hat, and set upside-down on the floor. Pop and remove the balloon. Line the head shell with a dry cleaning bag (or other plastic bag). Stuff the head with packing peanuts (or crumpled newspaper).
Lay the scarecrow on the floor, propping the torso up with pillows or something. Slide the head onto the head pole, rearranging the stuffing as needed and tucking the bottom material into the shirt. Tape all the layers of head/neck around the neck pole, below the collar of the shirt. Use safety pins to keep the collar against the head/neck, as shown.
Set up the scarecrow on the stand, put the hat on, and check that everything fits and sits nicely. If necessary, you can untape the top of the head and fix the stuffing. If he gets "jowly", fix it with the safety pins under the collar.
Step 5: Raffia, Face, and Finishing Touches
Remove the scarecrow from the stand and lay it down. For each limb, roll up the cuff of the sleeve or pant, tape sections of raffia to the limb, and unroll the cuff. We used 10-12 inch lengths of raffia. It is helpful at this point to have another person help you tape the raffia. Trim straggly bits if desired.
Note where the hat sits before making the face, to avoid making the face too high on the forehead. Sketch out a few designs first. We hot glued buttons for the eyes and a felt shape for the nose, and stitched the mouth with embroidery floss. You can use paint, fabric shapes, anything you like. Have fun with this step; it's the best part. :)
Set your scarecrow on the stand without the hat. Lay out a strip of packing tape on a table, sticky side up, and pat raffia onto the tape. Pick up the tape and apply to the hairline, ensuring the hat will cover the tape. Repeat around the head until desired hairstyle is achieved, trying the hat on periodically. Trim bits if necessary.
Make a waterproofing cap by cutting a cone out of a heavy-duty gallon ziploc bag. Trim to fit, tape over the crown of the head, taping to the hairline tape, and tape down the tip of the cone.
Put the hat on the scarecrow. Tack it down with a few stitches here and there. Stitch up through the hat, down through the hat, and across through the head fabric, pushing down on the hat while doing so. Beware getting tangled in the hair. Tapestry needles are easier, if you have one, but any needle will do.
Step 6: Set Up and Admire
Add any finishing touches (we added a bandana and "crow" feathers in his hat) and set up your scarecrow and stand outside. The scarecrow will be forward-heavy, so if you used a double concrete block set it up such that the half with the pole is to the back. The body pole will swivel within the stand pole. Our scarecrow fell on his face until we got a second block to place in front (see picture). Depending on your block or bucket, you may not need to worry about that.
Soak in the neighbors' praises, secretly gloating about how much more awesome your scarecrow is than their cutesy store-bought ones.
The faux crow in the fourth picture is a hollow foam decoy from amazon.com, in case you were curious. It looks really great from a distance.
I hope everything was clearly explained; feel free to ask any questions if it wasn't.
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