If you've been following me for long enough, you'll know that about a year-and-a-half ago, I made a really beautiful scarecrow using a PVC armature. She was stuffed with bubble-wrap to give her volume; her head was a piece of burlap onto which I appliquéd facial features and then used to cover a Styrofoam wig dummy head; and her outfit was a set of vivid red coveralls that I paid entirely too much for. I put a great deal of time, effort, and expense into creating her...and she pretty much disintegrated in the harsh Texas sun within a single season.I made her in January 2015 and she didn't even last long enough to see me plant my spring vegetables!!!!
She looked great for a couple of weeks, but in almost no time she rapidly began to fade and deteriorate. Sure, I knew she wouldn't last forever...but I certainly thought I'd get more than a single season out of my efforts!!! It was somewhat frustrating, to say the least.
After a brief mourning period, I began to contemplate a long-lasting alternative that would justify my time and effort. I deliberated about the pros and cons of a variety of materials, finally settling on galvanized steel and sheet metal. Thus, a tin man was born!
|Work in progress--- in my kitchen, of course!|
Nah, too big.How about an elegant skirt
made from window screen, coupled with aglamorous belt of copper, sheet-metal and brass?
Très chic! But still, not quite enough.
I still liked the idea of breasts, so instead of ill-fitting funnels (some too big, some too small, none just right), I decided to have the breasts custom fabricated to my exact specifications. I'm very particular, so I made a paper pattern to ensure that the results were exactly what I wanted, then I took my paper breasts to C & C Sheet Metal Fabrications. Craig, the owner/operator, was somewhat taken aback at my request, but he quickly got on board and was tickled by my project. And he made her breasts exactly as I specified! I attached them with looooong bolts with a toggle inside the cans. I thought it was a pretty clever way to attach them, and it worked quite well. The final touches: first, steel nipples made from plumbing pipe caps, and then the coup de grâce: distressing the finish with a generous spray of hydrochloric acid. Craig allowed me to spray the acid at his shop, because I feared damaging my own driveway with the caustic compound. We hoisted her up using a forklift and I sprayed her with the acid, then hosed her down thoroughly and took her home.
By now I'd worked out the snags in my construction process, so I believed that making a fellow would (or should) be relatively easy (it still wasn't). For the most part, I made him much the same way as his bride, minus the breasts, skirt, and lashes, except bigger in every way. Of course, the difference in materials posed some minor new challenges, but these were resolved at night in my dreams. (I often fall asleep thinking about how to achieve a certain end, and frequently I wake with the perfect solution.)
A good start, but I can see already that compared to Caitlyn, this fellow is BORING! Again, he needs...something.
After several days of deliberations (hat? bow tie? belt?) and even a few colorful recommendations (a codpiece? a strategically-placed tin lunchbox for a "package"?), I knew the answer. Just like the tin man of Oz, my fellow needed a heart. So I placed an ad on a local website asking for recommendations about where I could go to have a hole cut in my tin man, and I negotiated a trade: a fellow a few miles away agreed to use his plasma-cutter to cut a hole in my man's chest in exchange for a batch of my homemade chocolate-chip cookies, the best on the planet. And lickety-split, the hole was cut and I found myself jonesing for a plasma-cutter! Super cool.
Now my man just needed a heart. So I found a wooden heart at Michael's Arts and Crafts store, which I painted with vivid red enamel paint. It appears to float because I painted the interior of the trash can torso flat black, then constructed a sort of armature, also painted flat black, to invisibly hold the heart in place from behind. The black paint combined with the shadows from the can's interior make the supports all but disappear and only the heart shows up. I am happy with how it turned out.
And Caitlyn is happy with her husband, Beau. May they live happily ever after...or at least long enough for me to give them to my grandson, John, for his first home. (He loves them! He says "hi!" to them every time he sees them!)
I couldn't have done this without the help of my husband, Pat. He served as an extra pair of hands when I needed him to hold something or tighten a nut or bolt that I was unable to tighten. He even acted as my own hands when mine wouldn't work. (I injured myself recently and I have had three surgeries in the last couple of months on my right hand and wrist.) And he was the one who came up with the ingenious idea of adding tension to help keep the limbs in place. I am grateful that he was so willing to act as my assistant when I needed him these past weeks. He helped me bring my idea to fruition.
If you are interested in making something similar, just bear in mind that the "bones" of this pair are simply chains covered with pool noodles to give them a bit of stability. The secret to holding it all in place is tension: inside of each arm and leg is a very strong spring pulling the appendage into place. Simple, huh? (No, it wasn't. It took a lot of trial and error, but the end result was worth it IF these two last for a long while. And I have every reason to believe that they will.)
And no, you probably wouldn't be willing to pay me enough to convince me to do it again for anyone but my own family, because it would take a pretty hefty sum. There was a LOT of work involved in constructing these two, but I must say...I'm pleased. My goal was to bring a smile to the face of anyone who visits my garden, and so far I've been very successful!
Rumor has it that Caitlyn and Beau are considering expanding their family: maybe a dog or a cat, and who knows...maybe there'll be a baby along some day. But not some day soon., as I'm rather burned out on this particular project. Bedsides, I have myriad half-finished projects just waiting to be completed before I permit myself to undertake any additions to this family. So off to the next thing I go...
Until next time, Happy Trails!