Scarecrows

Elaine Mitchell is a textile artist who loves scarecrows. She first began to create these quirky characters nearly ten years ago as props for a theatrical performance. After the play Elaine displayed the scarecrows around her home. When people started to drive by for a look, she knew she was onto a winner.

Over the years Elaine has custom made scarecrows for every situation and has sent them across Australia. As well as the traditional, straw stuffed field scarecrow, she has made feminine scarecrows for cottage gardens, seated scarecrows, stage scarecrows and miniature scarecrows.

While Elaine specialises in complicated designs, scarecrows are easy to make and fun for children.

They are a great example of recycled art. With a little imagination, wonderful personalities emerge from the odds and ends lying around the house – old sticks, clothes, raw fleece, ribbon, paper bows and sheoak cuttings.

How to make a scarecrow

You will need:

  • strong sticks, one as high as yourself and the other half as high
  • old pair of overalls
  • old hat, pair of gloves, scarf
  • old pantyhose for tying
  • old pillow case or piece of old sheet to cover the head
  • newspaper
  • masking tape and glue
  • paint for the face or buttons for a sewn on face
  • bright coloured wool
  • straw, extra newspaper or plastic bags for stuffing

Method:

  1. Tie the sticks firmly together with old pantyhose. The shorter stick is for the arms and is tied at right angles to the taller stick, a little way down from the top.
  2. Wind newspaper around the top end of the taller stick to make the head. Use the masking tape to keep it together.
  3. Cover the newspaper with a piece of old sheet or a pillow case. Paint or sew a face onto it. Glue or sew on some wool for hair.
  4. Place the long stick down one leg of the overalls and put each end of the shorter stick through the overall arms.
  5. Stuff the overalls with straw until they make a firm body. Newspaper or plastic bags are good alternatives to straw.
  6. Place the old hat on its head, the scarf around its neck and tie on the gloves. Put some straw in its pocket and name your scarecrow.
  7. Tie the scarecrow to a stake if you want to stand it upright in the garden.

Further information

Elaine’s made to order scarecrows cost about $100 each. Her studio, The Scarecrow Patch, is open by appointment, phone: (03) 5249 1350.

From October 2nd Elaine’s theatrical company, Theatre of the Winged Unicorn, will present Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Pocket Patience’ at the Temperance Hall in Ceres. For dates, bookings and general enquiries, phone: (03) 5249 1350.

The 2nd Kurrajong District Scarecrow Festival is taking place from September 25th to October 5th at Kurrajong Heights, NSW with prizes awarded for best scarecrow. For entry forms and more information, contact Craig Laffin, phone: (02) 4573 1072.

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