How to Make Your Own Costumes- Scarecrows

    Making a Scarecrow Costume

    The best way to do a scarecrow is to create a soft sculpture, with the theme
    of "scarecrow." The the scarecrow is associated with the fall season and the
    Halloween holiday—but you may want to do one for both. You can construct a
    scarecrow that is suitable for both a traditional farmyard function and at the
    same time with enough individual character to qualify as a well-designed work
    of art and as a Halloween disguise.

    It Helps To Understand What Scarecrows Were Used For
    Most everyone knows exactly what a scarecrow is and what it is intended to
    do, but most people living in urban areas rarely, if ever, see a functional
    scarecrow. This lack of firsthand experience may actually be beneficial, as it
    requires the artist to create the image from what he or she imagines a
    scarecrow to be and not what some other person has established as a
    "scarecrow." The variations of styles for scarecrow construction are infinite.

    The origin of the scarecrow can be traced to Greek and Roman mythology. A
    distant relative of his was Priapus, a field and garden god. Aphrodite, goddess
    of love, was Priapus' mother and Dionysus, god of wine, was his father. Because
    Priapus was short on looks, Aphrodite and Dionysus were not very willing to
    even admit parenthood. Priapus is pictured with a sickle and a horn of plenty.

    The first harvest of the year was offered to him as the protector of the
    fields and his likeness was often placed in gardens to scare the birds away
    from the crops. So we have what is probably the birth of the modern-day
    scarecrow image.
    The basic structural make up of the scarecrow body using coat hanger wire for
    an armature. We used two hangers to establish the legs, head and body. We
    cut both hangers at the middle point, straightened them out, and taped them
    together at the "neck" section (see illustration). Heads, constructed of
    crushed newspaper and wrapped with masking tape, were attached to the
    hanger loop with a lighter-gauge wire, forming the basic human figure form.

    Raffia, used to suggest straw, was draped over the head to completely cover
    the newspaper form and was tied at the neck. It is necessary to use
    sufficient quantities of the material so that a bulk is, created. The raffia,
    should extend beyond the ends of the wire to give a whimsical appearance or
    to allow for tying into finger and toe shapes. The raffia was fixed to the coat
    hanger with a light gauge wire at several points. It is important not to tie the
    legs together. The legs should extend all the way to the neck as this will make
    it easier to add clothes later.

    At this point it is a good idea to add a display support system to the armature.
    We used construction grade 1" x 2" x 8" furring strips for this purpose. The 1"
    x 2" was cut at a length of approximately 66 inches and the long and short
    sections of the cut board were nailed together to form a "T." The wire
    armature was attached to the wooden "T" at the "arms" only using a thin wire.

    Creative tying and knotting made the formation of fingers and toes possible.
    Bending the coat hanger wire at the appropriate "joints" gave each figure an
    individual rhythm and personality. Dressing of the figure was the final
    consideration. All clothing or body covering was to be handmade. Students
    were left to let their imaginations roam and one idea lead to another until
    each scarecrow was as unique as its creator.

    This stage of the sculpture was the most exciting as each artist had his own
    idea as to what the finished figure should be wearing. Hats, vests, ties, bows,
    belts and a countless number of accessories adorned the figures.

    The finished works of art were displayed in the school courtyard and were the
    center of attention for several weeks. Staff members lined up to purchase
    these wonderful "seasonal sculptures" for home decoration use. Most students
    were not in a selling mood, especially after seeing their works displayed and
    admired by their peers and teachers alike.

    This was just one of many ways to incorporate the feel of the season or the
    holiday without actually celebrating either. You may have a favorite way of
    integrating the arts with the calendar and you might wish to try this if you are
    having a Halloween party.