As a kid growing up in the 90s, I was obsessed with that show Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Like, hardcore obsessed. I distinctly remember this one episode of the show where these two kids found this really creeptastic old scarecrow (check him out here!) in an old barn.
Last Halloween, I decided I wanted to go all out with my decorating and try to create one myself!
After hours of scouring the internet for ideas and tips, I stumbled across Mizerella’s tutorial for a scarecrow she built that I thought was really cool. She actually used paper mache sealed with Drylok to build her scarecrow’s neck and hat and built the rest of him out of wood and sticks, and it looked really, really good.
Last fall we had quite a bit of wind storms (like, enough to rip the shingles off a lot of peoples’ houses and snap off a few tree branches), so I was worried that my scarecrow would get destroyed if it wasn’t super heavy duty. Also, I only had one weekend to do the project, so I didn’t have time to paper mache stuff. Consequently, I had to improvise.
So, without further ado, here’s what I did!
- Cheap plastic skeleton parts
- Textured fabric, such as burlap
- Acrylic paint
- House paint
- An assortment of paint brushes
- Hot glue gun
- Clothing and accessories (I used a black trench coat, a hat, and some rope.
- Drywall compound
- Clear spray paint
- PVC pipe and connectors (more on this below)
- PVC Glue
- The first thing I did was assemble the head and hands. My BF and I actually found a bag of cheap plastic skeleton parts at our local Rite Aid for 50% off one day, so I used those, along with some PVC pipe from the hardware store, as the base for my scarecrow. I used a cross-shaped PVC fitting and two PVC pipes of different lengths. I cut the smaller pipe in half to use for the arms, and I cut the other pipe so that one piece was just big enough to use as a neck while the other one could be the “body”. I then played around with the positioning of the head and hands until I figured out how I wanted them.
- Once I had it figured out, I glued the “neck” piece into its place on the cross-shaped PVC fitting using some PVC glue. Next, I attached the head and hands to the pipe using a plain old fashioned hot glue gun. I was kind of worried that hot glue wouldn’t be strong enough, but it turned out to work really well. Then, I let the glue dry completely.
- Next, I cut and arranged my fabric how I wanted it on the head and hands, then used my hot glue gun to attach it once I had it in the right place. I think a softer burlap type material would work really nicely for this step, but this stiffer roll of it was on super clearance at Michael’s when I went, so I decided to use that. It was a bit of a challenge to work with, but not too bad. I applied the fabric to the base in layers, making sure to include wrinkles, folds and knots in order to give my scarecrow more texture and personality. Depending on the type of fabric you use, you can either dip it in regular glue (like the Elmer’s kind) and mold it, or adhere it with hot glue.
For the face part, I ended up applying the fabric and moving it around how I wanted it, then gluing it in place. I used a pretty big piece for the face so that I would have extra fabric to drape around his neck. I think that makes it look more scarecrow-y and also helps fill out the scrawniness of his neck/chest area. I used an X-Acto knife to cut/shred the fabric where the eyes and teeth were at. I think the exposed teeth really gave him an extra level of creepiness! It’s okay if your eye and mouth holes don’t have a very clean cut, as this adds character and a bit of an aged effect. I also used a random piece of rope that I found in the garage to tie the extra fabric around his neck.
- Once the glue was dry, I mixed up this stuff called monster mud, which is basically made by mixing drywall compound with a bit of latex house paint to give it some color. (If you want to know more about monster mud and all of the super cool things you can make with it, just Google it! It’s sooooo cool!) For this project, I just got the small bucket of drywall compound and a small can of paint, and it was more than enough. You don’t need to make a whole bucket or anything.
- Once the glue was dry and the monster mud was ready, I used a big paintbrush to apply it all over the head, hands and fabric. I have it several coats and let it be a bit gloppy in some places in order to give it texture. I let the mud dry overnight.
- The next day, when all of the mud was dry, I used acrylic paints to create depth, character and aging to the head/neck and hands. First, I used a mustard yellow color mixed crappily with just a smidgen of a warm brown to help dirty it up a bit. Using a dry paint brush, I applied it to all of the areas that I wanted to make “pop”. I yellowed the teeth, the brow bones, his cheekbones and nose, a bit on the chin, and any pieces of the neck fabric that were sticking out. When that was dry, I watered down some black paint and applied it as a wash to all of the places I wanted to “sink in” a bit more (beneath the cheekbones, around the cracks in his teeth, eye sockets, etc.
Just when I had finished this step, some neighbors who were walking by stopped to tell me how creepy my guy looked. YESSSSSSS!
- I used the same technique for the hands that I used for the head.
- Once everything was dry, I coated it all with some clear spray paint, just because I was worried that rain might wash off some of the paint and monster mud.
- Once that was dry, we assembled him over a stake which was pounded into the ground, kinda dressing him as we went, and making sure all of the PVC was glued together with the PVC glue. We also glued his hat on so it wouldn’t fly off. (For the clothing, I found the trench for 50% off at a thrift store. The hat was actually a children’s cowboy hat from the dollar store!)
- Once he was assembled, I had some extra bones left over, so I covered those in monster mud and fake blood and let them lay strewn about the grass. (Mwahahaha!)
Overall, I was quite proud of him as my first attempt at building my own Halloween prop and got a lot of compliments.