We learned earlier how to create a scarecrow decoration from the yellow pages of a telephone book. People have made scarecrows to help protect their crops for thousands of years. Some figures, like the ones made in Germany, had frightful faces to help scare away the birds.
But a Garden Goddess does not depend on scary looks to protect the fruit and vegetables. Instead, she peacefully watches over them and magically keeps the birds away. Well, at least she adds a bit of whimsy to the garden! We'll use a dried gourd for the head and a fallen branch for the body, and we'll reuse old clothes to dress the figure.
The gourd is one of our most useful crops, having been cultivated for thousands of years all over the world. While they've been grown and dried mainly for useful purposes such as storing grain, hauling water and for cooking and eating, gourds are highly valued by artists for the many ways they can be decorated. Some paint them, but many artists enjoy incising or burning designs into their surfaces.
Find a branch or substitute an old mop, broom or rake handle for the body. Clean the surface of the gourd and wipe it dry. Cut off the neck, and place the gourd on the stick. Ask an adult to fasten the head using a glue gun.
Now the fun begins! Decide on the expression that you want to portray, and use a pencil to draw the features on the gourd. Paint the lips, nose, eyes and eyebrows. Cut the inner tube into long strips. Again, have an adult help you glue them to the head, designing the hair as you go.
Tear the old clothes or rags into long strips and tie them onto the pole. Decorate your goddess with old jewelry or dress her up with gloves and a hat. When your Garden Goddess is finished, place her in the yard so she can protect your fruit and vegetables.
Lash another stick across the main support to make arms on your Garden Goddess. Dress the figure using an old shirt or dress.
If you prefer to make a male version of the Garden Goddess, give your guy a cool haircut or shade his head with a baseball cap.
When making the hair, substitute an old rope or thick, rug yarn for the inner tube. Unravel it to make curly hair.
Place the stick in an empty bleach bottle weighted with sand or gravel to make a free standing figure. Decorate the container with permanent markers or acrylic paints.
You can grow gourds or buy some already dried. To learn more about the different types of gourds and how to grow them, visit the Ohio State University Extension Web site.
See the American Gourd Society Web site for more resources on decorating gourds and to learn where you can buy gourds from growers.
Aurelia Conway was a Columbus area artist who won many awards for her beautifully crafted gourds. She also wrote several books about how to decorate them. Visit Hummingbird Hill to learn more.
Susan Brackney created the Garden Goddess pictured above. Brackney is an artist and the author of The Lost Soul Companion,The Not-So-Lost Soul Companion, and The Insatiable Gardener.
©2000 Marilyn J. Brackney
Volume 15 No. 1
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