Although it may be hard to believe, we are already past the halfway point to Halloween this year. Now, a lot of people may not want to think that far ahead, but for lovers of Halloween and all things scary, it’s never too early to think about Halloween.
When you think of old school costume what do you normally think of? Ghosts, vampires, werewolves and Frankenstein might be a few that pop into your head. But there is one that we can’t forget about, a classic symbol of old folklore – Scarecrows.
Dressing up as a scarecrow is almost as old as Halloween itself. There have been some frightening famous scarecrows in television shows and movies over the years, and I’m going to give you some tips and suggestions on how you can bring these characters to life.
But first a little history about the field-dwellers that have been the subject of many nightmares, the original creepy craft projects known as scarecrows.
History and Folklore
Scarecrows were created to do exactly what their name suggests – to scare off crows and other birds from eating and running farmer’s crops. To take a peek at the first-ever scarecrow, you would have to go back almost 3000 years ago.
Much like many inventions that are still used today, it was the Egyptians who first utilized scarecrows to help protect their wheat fields. They were especially common along the Nile River.
In the past, other methods of scaring birds were tested. These methods included using machinery to replace scarecrows, such as windmills. However, birds are smarter than you might realize. They became aware of what these structures were and quickly realized they weren’t a threat.
Other methods that were tried included hanging tin pieces in trees and shooting off noise guys. Neither method proved effective, as most birds realized it was a trick and would just return to the fields.
During ancient times in Greece, many farmers would model their scarecrows to look like Priapus, who as the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus, was a protector of livestock, fruit plants and gardens. He was the protector of a few other things that you should probably Google yourself.
The apparent reason why scarecrows were designed to look like Priapus was not just out of respect. Priapus is said to have been very ugly and he used to hang around vineyards. Whenever he was around, it scared birds away and a better harvest would take place.
But it’s not just the appearance of a scarecrow that frightens birds off. Once scarecrows started to be constructed using clothing from a farmer or his family, the birds would be able to smell the fragrance of humans on the old clothes.
This would in turn cause the birds to be scared off. This is why common scarecrows are generally built using old clothes that have not been washed to help the human smell remain on them for as long as possible.
Scarecrows around the world differ greatly in how they are designed. In Japan, farmers used to hang old rags, meats and fish bones on their scarecrows.
The smell didn’t just keep birds away, but most other creatures as well. Centuries ago, German farmers used to make wooden witches and place them in their fields. They believed that by doing this, that the evil spirit of winter would go into the witch’s body.
Today, scarecrows are still held in high regard around the world, especially in the United Kingdom, where dozens of scarecrow festivals are held annually.
So, now you know all you need to know about scarecrows, but let’s get to what you’re all here for – tips and suggestions on how you can design a costume to look like a famous scarecrow or how to come up with your own design.
Items you will need to make a scarecrow costume
- Glue gun or pins
- Baggy, green or brown long-sleeved shirt
- Baggy brown or grey pants
- Brown shoes or boots
- Bag of straw
- Orange, yellow and brown acrylic paint
- Brown, tan and black face make-up
Famous Scarecrow Costumes
The Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz
It would be ridiculous to start this list of costume suggestions without talking about maybe the most popular scarecrow of all time, the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz. To capture the magic of the original, you need to start by getting some burlap. You can usually find this at a local craft store.
You want to cut this into a large rectangle that can be placed over your head to form a mask. You can always buy a Wizard of Oz mask, but what’s the fun in that?
After you’ve drawn holes or measures where your eyes and nose are, take the burlap off and cut out holes for your eyes and nose in the sack. Next, get some brown and tan face makeup and paint your nose a dark brown.
Take your piece of rope and loop it gingerly around the neck part of the mask. Be extremely careful doing this. The rope should be loosely draped around the mask but not tied to avoid any possible injuries.
Once the mask is finished, you’re ready to start on the body. Get an old pair of baggy slacks and a long-green shirt from a thrift store that you don’t mind altering for the costume. Put the clothes on and then get yourself some more rope and loosely tie small pieces around your wrists and ankle and a larger piece around your waist.
Start adding newspaper between your body and the clothing. To help avid itching, you should be wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants under the scarecrow costume.
Make a triangle hat out of some more burlap and glue on or stick some straw pieces so they are shooting out of sleeves and pant legs. Add a fake crow to your arm if you want for effect, and you are done. This makes a great part of a group costume if your friends also enjoy The Wizard of Oz.
Scarecrow from Goosebumps
If you were like me as a kif and read a lot of Goosebumps books, then you’re going to like this one. The Scarecrow at Midnight is one of R.L. Stine’s scariest books and it’s because of the main antagonist, the menacing scarecrow. You need to start by getting yourself some burlap (it’s not a bad thing to have around) and start working on the mask.
Unlike the Wizard of Oz’s scarecrow, this one is not here to make you laugh. Again, measure eye holes, take the mask off and cut them out. But this time, make the eye holes larger.
This is so you can add red make-up around your eyes to make them appear more sinister. You also want to draw a large, menacing grin on the mask. Again, find yourself an old pair of grey or brown slacks and a baggy long-sleeved shirt, but also keep your eyes open for a brown cowboy-style hat as well.
Thrown on the baggy clothes and tie the bottom of the shirt around your waist or secure it with pins or an old belt. Find some newspaper and stuff them into the baggy outfit. For a more detailed effect, add some straw to the neck, foot and hand areas. Throw on your hat and you’re ready to make everyone’s night just a little creepier.
Scarecrow from the Batman Universe
Whether you read Batman comics, watched the cartoon or saw the movies with him in it, Scarecrow from the Batman universe is one scary dude. As a former guest of the Arkham Asylum, the ultra-intelligent Jonathan Crane developed a gas that would cause anyone who breathed it in to suffer horrific hallucinations. Yeah, he’s a bad dude, but he looks awesome.
Scarecrow has gone through a few different looks over the years, but I think the look that Cillian Murphy had in The Dark Night is the best one. For this costume, you will need a burlap sack, a grey or brown suit, a white shirt and a brown or black tie.
The mask is what makes this version of scarecrow so creepy. If you can sow or have a friend or family member who can, I would suggest having them cut and resow parts of the mask to make it look at terrifying as possible. Cut out eye holes and leave a mouth opening that will be lightly sown back together.
Before putting your suit on, consider rolling around in some dirt or rinsing it in tea to give it a dirty and dingy appearance. This look might seem a little simpler than other costume ideas, but it’s highly effective. Especially if you have a friend going as Batman.
The Dark Harvest Scarecrow
If you haven’t seen the movie Dark Harvest don’t worry. I can tell you from experience that it’s not a great movie, but it does have one of the creepiest scarecrows I’ve ever seen. This version of the classic scarecrow costume is a little different. To start, get yourself some burlap and make a mask that is a little more form-fitting.
Measure where the eye hole should go as well. Once you get the sizing right, take it off and cut the eye holes out. You also want to paint on black stitching onto the mask
You will need some dark pants and a dark shirt. Brown, grey or black will work. Then try and find a long black trench coat or long black coat. Using black face paint, darken around your eyes. Get yourself a pitchfork and a plastic or toy skull and you have what is possibly the scariest scarecrow to ever grace the screen of a B-horror movie.
How to Make Your Own Scarecrow Costume
To make a scarecrow costume for yourself or someone in your family, it’s a pretty simple process. Get yourself some burlap and make a hat. Get some overalls or suspenders and baggy pants, a plaid shirt and some yellow rope.
For kids, it’s not a bad idea to use yellow string instead of hay, as it can irritate their skin. But for adults, stuff some hay into the bottom of your pants and some into the end of your sleeves.
Next, get yourself some face paint and this is where you can be creative. You can be a cute scarecrow with stitches along the sides of your mouth and rosy red cheeks.
But you can also make it a little creepier by adding more makeup to make it look like your face has been stitched together. This is what makes this costume so great. There are no two scarecrows that look alike. So, have fun with it!
Scarecrows as Decorations Around Your Home
Scarecrows don’t just make great costumes. They also make wonderful decorations to have around your home during the fall or Halloween. Creating these types of scarecrows is very similar to how you make a scarecrow costume for a person. You just need more hay and some broom handles or large sticks.
You can make scarecrows of any size. Little ones to put in the front garden or large ones to help scare kids on All Hollow’s Eve. They all require the same materials and can be a fun activity to do with family or friends.
You can make scarecrow door hangers, ones that sit in a chair on your front porch, scarecrow couples and little scarecrow kids. You can make a whole scarecrow family if you want to go all out. Scarecrows are the physical embodiment of what Halloween is all about, and they represent a big part of our agricultural history.
Question: Who are the most famous scarecrows?
Answer: A few of the most famous scarecrows include – the scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz, Scarecrow the villain from the Batman comics, cartoons and movies, as well as the creepy scarecrow killer from the horror movie, Dark Harvest.
Question: How long have humans used scarecrows?
Answer: Humans have used scarecrows to protect their crops for over 2500 years. The first recorded use of a scarecrow was when the Egyptians and Greeks used them.
Question: Is it hard to make a scarecrow?
Answer: Making a scarecrow is pretty easy. You just need a broom handle, some old clothes, some straw, burlap and rope.
Question: Do scarecrows actually keep birds away?
Answer: Scarecrows have been proven to not only keep birds away from crops but also some small animals as well.
Question: How can I make a scarecrow at home?
Answer: You can make scarecrows at home out of various materials that you may have lying around and some you will need to purchase. You just need to stuff some old clothes with hay or newspaper for the body and make a head out of a burlap sack. You then attach the scarecrow to a broom handle or large stick and you’re good to go.
There you have it. A few tips and suggestions on how to make some costumes for famous scarecrows, how to make your own scarecrow costume and some fantastic scarecrow decoration ideas. It may not be for a while, but I still wish you and your family a very Happy Halloween.