Author Archives: Carean

Building Our Own Wizard of Oz Scarecrow

Ray Bolger cropped 010My husband wanted a scarecrow for our garden, but not just any scarecrow–he wanted none other than Ray Bolger, from the Wizard of Oz. It sounded like a fun project, so I gave it a try. Starting with the basic mannequin mold head, and referring to Internet photos, I built up the face over a two day period. I worked pretty fast and without too much deliberation.

The hat was the most difficult part! I bought ticking, or stiff cotton canvas. Since I didn’t know where to begin making a hat that would fit him well, I first tried to follow a website on how to make a witch’s hat–I thought I would modify it, since pictures showed him wearing a hat with a rounded peak and a narrow brim–but the algebraic formulas proved too daunting. So I did what I always do: estimate. I ended up having to sew the brim twice, but I was happy with the result. I sewed wrinkles into the peak, so it would curve upward. Then I sprayed it with a leftover can of black spray paint.

June 2015 Ray Bolger on way to garden cropped 006 Here he is in the back of the truck, on his way down to the garden. He’s got a pair of Rich’s old jeans, a worn-out pair of gloves, and a thrift-shop plaid shirt. His head is sprayed with several coats of poly-acrylic sealer, and is stuffed with bubble-wrap, so he won’t rot. This is the first time I’m putting a paper mache work outside to weather the elements, so I’ll be interested to see how well he holds up.

Ray Bolger cropped 010   Adding his collar, and making final adjustments. I have built several life-size standing forms before, for Halloween, and my practice is to make a frame from PVC. This time, however, I had Rich pound in a 1″x 2″ with a crosspiece for the arms, because scarecrows are traditionally erected this way. I only wish I had some straw to stick here and there, so it looked as though he were stuffed with it (well, maybe next year).

And here he is, guarding our tomatoes!

Ray Bolger cropped

Recipe for Jonni Good’s Paper Mache Clay

FEB 2014 Carean Art works 005

Jonni Good, Of created the recipe I use for the “skin” of my human sculptures. It’s cheap, easy to make, moldable, fast drying, and durable. After many repetitions, I’ve written my own version of her air-dry recipe. Contact me on my Etsy site “Kaso Art Studio,” for questions about this version.

Smooth Air-Dry Paper Mache “Clay” Recipe


  1. ½ c TP (Angel Soft)   24 g dry, 110g wet
  2. ½ c Joint Compound, 200g (not Dap brand)
  3. ½ c Elmers Glue-All, 130g
  4. ½ c corn starch, 70g
  5. 3 T. Boiled Linseed Oil
  6. All-Purpose Flour: ½ c (70g) to start, later add ¾ cup (100g) in last step.


A scale with gram measurement, small mixing bowl, a colander, large mixing bowl, two small bowls (that look different), a tablespoon, a measuring cup, and an electric mixer. Measure all ingredients beforehand.

Mix wet ingredients together in the large bowl: joint compound, glue, and oil.

In one small bowl, mix the corn starch and ½ c flour; in the other, put the 100g of flour (use different-looking bowls so you can tell them apart).

Fill the small mixing bowl with hot water from the tap. Immerse the TP for about 20 seconds, swirling your hand stiffly as if your fingers were the tines of a fork, so that the TP starts to break apart.

Drain TP in colander, then squeeze the water out of the ball gently until the sodden TP weighs 110-120g. Add to the large bowl by breaking apart into small pieces. Start mixing with the electric mixer, breaking down the TP in the wet stuff. Then add the dry (cornstarch and 70g flour) bit by bit until it’s well-incorporated, about 1 ½ minutes. Stop mixing; clean off blades and immerse them in the sink.

Now you’re going to add as much of the 100g of flour as you need—less for a damper mixture, more for a dryer one. Take a big metal fork with wide tines and, while holding onto the bowl, add the remaining flour and vigorously mix until it’s blended as well as possible. Then turn out onto a surface dusted with cornstarch and knead like dough, adding cornstarch liberally until the dough is no longer sticking to your hands or the work surface. It should be soft, springy, and even-textured. Store in a cool place in a zip-lock bag.