Project Scarecrow: A Song of Paper and Glue

It’s time for another DIY Wednesday!  Since I shared my love of PVC pipe last time, this week I thought I’d talk about another one of my favorite project materials: Papier Mache.

When my love of Halloween prop DIY began, I ate up everything I could online.  There are so many awesome Halloween blogs out there with so many great projects that I felt a little overwhelmed but so excited about the possibilities.  Although I looked at every Halloween blog I could find, my three favorites for inspiration were (and are) Stolloween, Pumpkinrot, and Spookyblue.

I fell in love with all the cool, creepy props the artists had made, especially the scarecrows.  I liked the scarecrows so much in fact that I decided I would try to make one, too.

One of the first steps when doing a papier mache project is to create a base.  This could be a number of things, whatever you can use to create the shape you want.  I wanted to make a large pumpkin head, so I used a large plastic grocery bag filled with newspaper.  To get the pumpkin ridges, I used masking tape to create the right shape, and for the stem, I used a rolled up piece of a magazine secured with masking tape.

Like so.
Like so.

After the base has been made, it’s time to make the glue.  There are so many recipes for this stuff online.  Choose whichever one works best for you.  For mine, I mixed flour and water at a ratio of 1 to 4, and then added some white Elmer’s glue and some liquid starch because I read that it would help the mixture adhere to the paper more easily and create a stronger hold.

Next, it’s time to get messy.

Take strips of shredded newspaper and dip them in the glue mixture. After they’re completely covered, start laying them over your base, making sure to create a thin layer over the entire thing and allowing it to dry a bit before adding a new layer.  It’s best to do multiple layers for a stronger prop.  I think I used about seven layers for my scarecrow head, but you could do more or less depending on what you’re going to be doing with the prop.

Next up is the detail work.  After my scarecrow head dried, I removed the newspaper and bag from a hole in the bottom.   You can use your own judgment to decide whether or not you need to do this step.  If you’re not going to cut into your prop, you can probably skip it.  Since my scarecrow wouldn’t be scary without a creepy face, I drew an outline on the form and then carefully cut out the mouth, nose, and eyes with a craft knife.

For the finishing touches, I used spray paint and dry brushing to give my scarecrow head some color and creepiness.  Pieces of dried cane from my husband’s grandmother were used to make the scarecrow body, fastened together in a T-shape with tape and twine.  Lastly, I draped some creepy cloth over the arms to flesh it out a bit.

Voila!  Scarecrow.

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Sure.  It might not be the fantastic creations of Spookyblue and Pumpkinrot, but although it might not measure up to those guys, I was pretty damn pleased with the final product.  Plus, it was my first attempt, and practice makes perfect.  I even got compliments from the trick-or-treaters that came to the house.  I call that a success.

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I’m already looking forward to making some new creepy things this year. There aren’t many days left until Halloween, so I better start planning now.  What about you?  Are you planning on any cool props this year?  I’d love to hear about your creations in the comments!

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