Introduction: Wizard of OZ Characters

This is the third year my employer, Orchard Supply Hardware, is participating in San Jose's "Christmas in the Park" Habitat for Humanity completion where companies donate $5000 and a team to build, paint, and modify a wood kit playhouse in 8 hours not counting any pre-builds. The team chose the Theme “Wizard of OSH”, a play on our company's acronym depicting 4 scenes from the movie on each side. I wanted to include the four main characters: Dorothy, Tin man, Lion, and Scarecrow with our playhouse. Initially I wanted face in the hole” board type for kids to engage with our display by having pictures taken as the characters. They would been kid size proportional to the playhouse but the CITP Director nixed the idea likely because of the security and logistics of placing it behind the fence where attendees were not allowed. I had to change the design to have “heads or faces” which I planned to have anyway in case there were less than four taking photos. Instead of flat images on the plywood board, I wanted to have some 3 dimensional depth. All but the Tin man would utilize purchased kids costumes that were half filled to show shape. The Tin man would be fabricated from mostly Orchard Supply Hardware parts to represent our company products. Dorothy was a challenge in creating bare arms and legs. At first I planned to use PVC pipe to represent limbs but later chose to use pipe insulation and thin foam sheet to cover the pipe. To match flesh paint I used a Montana brand spray paint and experimented with two colors. I found shoes from a Goodwill store and covered them with “Dorothy” sequined shoe covers With more time, I would have painted and decorated them with sequins. Scarecrow had a costume which had printed straw. I would have preferred finding a kids shirt and stuffing it with straw but I covered the printing with an Orchard Supply Hardware kids apron and stuffed straw at the seams. I would have also liked to use a burlap bag for the face but could not find one in time. The Lion had a full costume but I inserted Romex wire into the tail to make it loop upwards.

Step 1: The Plywood Base

I didn't sketch ideas as much given the short schedule so much of what I built was from mentally picturing it. I laid out all the costumes on a large workbench table that our stores are equipped for screening and other services and projects. Since our store only sells 2'x 4' plywood, I screwed four together with flat Simpson metal ties. I sketched rough outlines of the characters on plywood and cut them with a Skilsaw. During the assembly, I would trim wood as necessary and only once had to add a little with a metal tie. With more time I would use a detailed drawing projected to the wood.

Step 2: Assembling the Costumes

To give depth to the costumes, I purchased child size martial arts pads and life jackets. Initially I was going to use chicken wire but felt it would take more time. I used a staple gun to secure the padding and the costume fronts to the plywood.

Step 3: The Faces

This was a challenge I solved by purchasing kids Halloween masks that are made for decorating. The problem was they were very flimsy so I taped them to cardboard and sprayed expanding insulation foam. Initially it looked good until the next morning when the foam expanded more and distorted the mask. I trimmed the excess on the side that would attach to the plywood and glued and duct taped another mask onto the "form". Before attaching the good masks, I spray painted them. The eyes were another challenge as I wanted them to be large child like.

I ordered kids face masks and painted them with youthful expressions. The eyes were a challenge, I tried goofy eyes but they didn’t look right so I found some animated eyes with character and merely glued them on.

Step 4: The Tinman

I used dryer hose, sheet tin, and chrome tape to assemble the body. Be careful as the edges are sharp, file the edges and burrs. I used have sphere silicone bumpers sprayed chrome silver. That paint is really reflective as you can see in the mask I painted. I painted a green heart with our OSH logo

Step 5: Displayed at the Park Next to Our House

I added a laser light show to illuminate them at night. Here is a video: