Lessons in Scarecrow Building.

This is my first time building a scarecrow. I volunteered to build one  for the “Crows on Main” event in Lancaster, SC. Seemed like a fairly simple nation to build a crow. I soon learned there is so much more to building a crow than one might imagine. I can honestly say I will not forget 2018 and my crow building experience.

The “Crows on Main” event/contest is open to individuals and businesses from the Lancaster SC county area. Each October, Crows are attached to the light poles in downtown Lancaster and remain there for a month. Let me share my journey with you.


Like I said, the experience of building a crow was new to me, and I was quite naive about the process. Sure, just stuff some clothes with hay and you are set. Right? Not so fast there, builder. There are some complexities that I did not fully grasp. There are several factors such as weather and structure that come into play, along with a number of adjustments one has to make.

Weather plays a big factor in Crow building. Rain, wind and sun all have impacts. This is also hurricane season in SC, and sure enough we got Hurricane Matthew just a week into the display time.

Let’s start with the basic materials. Clothes, hay and decorations are the commonly thought of building supplies for a crow. Well, one must consider the possibility of rain. Rain and hay equals weight. Weight is the death of your Crow.  SO, hay is out as a building material. The organizer gave me a tip of using newspaper that was stuffed into trash bags. Ok, so newspaper was to be my stuffing, which is good because I have a supply of old “Lancaster News” papers at home. Clothes would not be a problem as there was a used clothing center down the street.


The theme I chose was that of a dancer striking a pose, since I am a photographer. My daughter had recently asked me to take pictures of her in the style of Jordan Matters. Matters is a photographer who has dancers pose in places where you might not normally see them, like streets. Perfect, A dancer crow it was to be.

Matters dancers often posed with one leg towards the sky and one on the ground, with their head back and arms outstretched. Kind of a split but vertically. So I set out to make that happen with my crow. My first challenge was how to make the crow stand. Crumpled newspaper in the clothes would not be strong enough, I needed some bones inside to give support.

I considered using dowels and somehow attaching them together to form a skeleton. But I did not have dowels available in my shed of junk. There was an old three room tent with carbon fiber rods. Yes, let’s go with the carbon fiber rods. I gathered an armfull, and headed to the porch. I cut the elastic cords from inside the rods. The tent will never stand again.


How to join the rods together? I first used packing tape, but it would not even hold the weight of the rods. My college anatomy class kicked in, tendons and ligaments. Mine would be formed from white cotton rope. Wrapping it all around the “joints, I succeeded in getting the “skeleton” built, kind of. The torso and arms sank right to the floor. More rope and ligaments.


The “bones” all worked now. On to the clothes. This would turn out to be the easiest part of the whole process. A trip to the Used clothing store and $10 later, I had the crow’s outfit. Blue jeans, a top, hoodie and shoes. A trip to walmart brought the head, wigs, eyelashes, and liquid latex. I was on a roll. Or so I thought.

As you age, you lose track of the finer points you should have learned the last time you did something, But no, you forget and have to relearn. I decided to take out the medium length black halloween wig, I had bought a blonde and a long black one just in case. I grabbed the foam head and decided to glue on the wig. I used white glue and thought that leaving it overnight should allow ample time for the glue to dry. Guess what. Nope.


The wig lay on the porch deck and the bald head gleamed in the sunrise the next morning. Frustrated at my error, I fired up the hot glue gun. That wig was never coming off again. When it was sufficiently secured, I sat about to paint the face. Some of you are already seeing where this is headed. I had already prepared the head with a glue bath, or er, two, so I headed to the acrylic paint. What are wigs made of? Fine nylon threads flew every which way as I painted. I am sure there are some still attached to her face as she stands on the street. Let her rest, and dry, I am headed to the adirondack and a cold diet coke.


That night, I returned to the task at hand. I probably should have gone hunting, even if I just took the camera to shoot with, I would have fared better. Ladies, if you never wear a false eyelash again, I will still see you as gorgeous. How in the world you put them on and with crazy glue to boot, is beyond me. Whole new level of respect for y’all. I took the eyelashes out and tried following the instructions. I was instantly confused with what I needed a super tiny vial of superglue for, when the back of the lash was already stickly? I could have used some microtool and a head mounted  magnifying glass, but I don’t have them. My fingers got sticker and sticker. What do the kids say now, FAIL.

Luckily, I had bought a mardi gras mask for the crow as a backup. I secured it with more hot glue. I think the lashes helped secure it as well.

The body has to be simpler than the head, so let’s move on. Boys, I would rather drop a doe on a buck day at 100 yards with my pellet gun. I had the skeleton all trussed up and all the ligament and giaments where they should be. Made that last one up. I pull out the blue jeans and these are some small waisted jeans, and I look at the long legs of the crows skeleton, and an visualizing how in the world I and going to get these on the crow when the legs don’t bend. They are headed 180 degrees away from each other. Yes carbon fiber bends, but not THAT much. OK, I am going to have to amputate one of her legs, and then reattach it once the crow has the jeans on, all while standing vertically so the head doesn’t mess up. I draw on the cultural wisdom of Derek Shepherd and know I can do this. Surgery successful, her pants are on and leg reattached. I manage to get the rest of her clothes on the crow, and start to stuff.


Is it enough now to say that I had not anticipated the levels of challenges building a scarecrow would entail. This was not the end of my adventure with the crow, but I am sure you have other things to be doing now, as do I. The crow is standing proud on light pole number 14 on Main Street in Lancaster, SC and will remain until November third when she will be laid to rest at the local dump.


I have learned once again the excitement and thrill of doing something new. Yes there were challenges. This was not a world highest mountain, but I pushed beyond my knowledge and understanding with this. I grew a bit. I might do it next year, and if so, I am starting November 4th to build the next one.


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1 reply

  1. Great job Sarah’sDad!


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