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Crows.  Those big, glossy black birds of the genus Corvus, and especially C. brachyrhynchos of North America are real trouble.  They're known to be thieves, and if your graveyard corpses complain about the constant pecking, then you need a real scarecrow to keep them in line.

Now, I'm not suggesting some happy little scarecrow with red cheeks and a fruity grin.  What you need is a scarecrow that, when asked, "how about a little fire?" would shove that burning broom right down the wicked witch's throat and laugh.  I mean, crows are some mean, evil creatures.  Just one was enough to take out that poor old lady in "Omen II", for crying out loud.  A flock of them aren't called a "murder" for nothing.

Materials List
Grape vines Go out to the woods (preferably in the Spring before the larger hunter-seeker variety of mosquito has risen from its winter hibernation) and cut down several different lengths.  More on this in a minute.
Large plastic cauldron Walmart, Target, Big Lots, just about anywhere, really.
Newspaper, paper towels, duct tape, some scratchy rope, an 8' 1x2 (or some sturdy post), and latex carpet adhesive Probably piled in your garage already, blocking the lawn mower.  The carpet adhesive can be found at any home improvement store, or Walmart.
An old lamp, and lots of black or gray cloth Try Good Will or the Salvation Army.
Inspiration - Rot

Every project derives from some inspiration, don't you agree?  In the case of our scarecrow here, suitably named "Bruno" by the lovely Mrs. SpookyBlue, we humbly bow toward Pennsylvania, home of "Pumpkin Rot".

John at PumpkinRot.com is truly a unique and talented builder of Halloween props.  I discovered his website a couple of years ago and was hooked.  His original classic scarecrow is the base line measurement for our own raven muncher.  John's concept is (in my mind, anyway) the best example of that sinister and truly frightening presence that we dread to discover while all alone in the middle of a cornfield somewhere.  It was that presence that we hoped to duplicate using our own choice of materials and construction methods.

We at SpookyBlue often lift ideas from other haunters, but you'll never catch us taking the credit for someone else's original concept.  "Pumpkin Rot" is the quintessential scarecrow, though "Johnny Appleseed" is truly terror on a stick.  You'll understand what I mean when you see them for yourself.  And don't even get me started on "Roots", a most vile creation that has inspired me to even greater and more horrifying challenges for the future.

The inspiration to create is such a cool gift.  Thanks, John!      ~ Spooky

Building the body

We started this project on March 30...almost exactly 7 months prior to Halloween.  Try this in your driveway.   Some of our neighbors don't let their kids play on our side of the street anymore.

We are lucky enough to have access to (and permission from the owners of) a patch of woods that is literally crawling with grape vines.  Using loppers and not a little effort, we scored about a hundred yards of vine. 

If you decide to give grape vine a shot as the body of your scarecrow, pick yours in the spring when it's green and pliable.  Choose different lengths and thicknesses.  When green, thinner vine can be wrapped and corded, and it is extremely strong.

Grape vine will quickly dry out in storage, so we decided to build the body of our scarecrow before the vines became brittle.  Trust me.  If you wait, you'll be disappointed when they break into pieces.  Or course, you could soak your vines for a few days, but ours were already soaked. 

So we cut our vines into manageable lengths and wound them together to form the main body mass.  We wrapped this tightly with scratchy rope (I really don't know what this stuff is called, but it's scratchy and it's rope) and secured it to our 8' post.  We did the same for his arms, making one long "rope" that would become his 20' wingspan.

This didn't really look like much of a scarecrow back in July, but you gotta have vision, man.

From an engineering standpoint, it seemed like a good idea to lash a single long "rope" of woven grapevines to our center post to serve as Bruno's arms.  As it turns out, this worked pretty well.  Hanging in the garage over the summer, the arm length took on a distinct bow, which, when turned over to point upwards, gave our scarecrow a very unusual look.  His gesture is very ogranic as if he's pointing toward something.

Using wood screws, we attached a second 1x2 about 4' long to serve as his shoulders.  To this we lashed the arms, rolling the m to point upward.  Having grown up on a farm, I have pulled my share of old fence posts out of the ground using a chain and a bumper jack, so I knew how to tie a half-hitch knot.  I wrapped the rope around post and vine once, tied a half-hitch on the end and pulled it tight, making sure to leave a couple of feet of rope free on the other end of the knot.  I wrapped the rope tightly around the mass several times and tied it off to the length left over from the half-hitch end.  The scratchy rope holds tightly to whatever it's wrapped around, so I only had to use a couple of lengths to secure the arm assembly to the shoulder post.

We had to saw off some protruding vines in order to attach the head, but for the most part we left all the various sticks and things poking out all over.

Project Update: Bruno's head was not, in the strictest sense, attached to anything. In deference to our old friend, and so as not to draw comparisons that might paint him (the scarecrow) in a bad light, I'll skip the obvious and obligatory political commentary.

Bruno's body, a tangle of grape vines and debris, was lashed to an 8' 1x4 post. To that we fastened a 4' 1x2 cross-piece, about 24" from the top of the post. This put his shoulders well below the top of the vertical post. I had originally planned to set Bruno's head atop the collection of sticks that jutted up from the shoulder area, but I had trouble with the angle. He tended to want to gaze up at the sky instead of glare down at his guests, so I trimmed a few inches off the longer vines. This allowed the head to partially rest on the shoulders, but there was still too much play.

A wire supports Bruno's headIf you look closely at this photo (very closely), you'll see a thin guy wire running from the back of Bruno's head to the top of the post. Varying the length of the wire allowed me to adjust the pitch. Shorter wire pulled his chin (if he had a chin, but you get the idea) up.

A small hole was drilled through the back of his head for the wire, and a metal washer was permanently glued over the hole. I slipped the wire through the hole and tied it to a small dowel rod inside. The dowel kept the wire from pulling back out, and the washer prevented the wire from cutting a wider hole in the event of some unforeseen lateral movement. This was probably overkill since the plastic cauldron I used for the armature was left intact, and any sheering forces strong enough to cut through the plastic would surely have snapped the wire first.

After the arms were secured, we dressed Bruno in an old choir robe we scored at Goodwill, and that was no mean feat.  Try putting a shirt on a writhing monster made out of grape vines sticking every which way and not learn a thing or two about patience.   Before dressing him, we aged the cloth by rubbing it with sand paper.  Rubbing it vigorously, I might add.  We also cut long strips of black cloth and tied them to the arms.  Up to this point I had my doubts as to whether this monstrosity was going to look like a real monster or a big pile of sticks wearing an old choir robe.  The strips of black cloth made a huge difference, and they look very spooky fluttering in the breeze.

Page 2 - The Head