The Hippo


May 27, 2020








How to make a scarecrow


 Five years ago, Jackie Brown, president of the Chester Historical Society, came up with the idea to build scarecrow bases with her husband Don and sell them to residents as a fundraiser. The town embraced the idea: it was so successful that to date more than 500 scarecrows have been sold and dressed up.  

The scarecrows are creative. This year, for example, there are a singing choir and a bride and groom, a pair of scarecrows perched in a canoe and rowing through a blue tarp sea and a Cat in the Hat accompanied by Thing 1 and Thing 2.
But you don’t have to leave the fun to the townspeople of Chester. Building a scarecrow is inexpensive and fun.  Many of the items needed can be found in the home — old clothes, a little paint and last week’s newspapers or fallen leaves. Other items, like wood for the base and a canvas bag or burlap sack for the head — if that’s how you choose to make your head — don’t need to cost more than $5. Reporter Rebecca Fishow created her own scarecrow to prove it. 
The base. Find some wood poles for your scarecrow’s base. Don Brown uses an 8-foot, 1-by-2-inch pine board, then cuts a 16-inch piece off for the shoulders. I found a similar pole for about $1.50, then asked the store employee to saw off a piece. The smaller piece was nailed across the taller one to become the shoulders. 
The outfit. Your scarecrow can be anyone! Stick to old hand-me-downs or give it a fun costume. After the base was securely put together, I put an old sweater over it, so the shoulders rested on the horizontal piece of wood. Later, once the torso was stuffed, I added a pair of well-worn pants.
The stuffing. To stuff both the head and body, Jackie Brown suggests crumpling up newspaper and putting it in plastic bags before stuffing it in the scarecrow. The plastic bags help prevent mold and dampness that could lead to a misshapen form. You can also stuff the bags with leaves.
The head. Jackie Brown uses a burlap sack for the head.She buys them from craft stores with half-off coupons. I didn’t have any coupons, and burlap bags were about $10 each at Michael’s. Instead, I found a canvas bag at A.C. Moore; even without the 40-percent-off sale price, it would have been about $3. After I stuffed the head with plastic bags full of crumpled newspaper, I cut the bag’s handles and used them to securely tie the head to the base. 
The face. Make a silly scary or cute face on the bag using acrylic, house or craft paint. If using  acrylic paint, iron the face once it’s painted on to help it last. Meanwhile, “Hair is always a problem,” Jackie Brown said. She purchases fake hair, uses a wig or sometimes sews yarn into the bag (the cheapest option). Or you could stick a hat on its head. Instead of giving my scarecrow a do, I put the hood of its shirt over its head, which also helped the head stay in place. 
The finishing touches. When it comes to the finishing touches, the sky is the limit. Should your scarecrow wear shoes or have gloves for hands? Should it carry a purse or play guitar? Maybe you’d like it to be waving to passersby? I used yarn to tie its arms into a waving position. The possibilities are endless.
As seen in the October 16, 2014 issue of the Hippo.


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