While Pete takes his morning nap, Adelae and I spend a little special time together, and making Walnut Thanksgiving Friends was our project today! Growing up, my grandma, "Dee", had all of these wonderful Pilgrim, Indian and turkey figures that she set on her Thanksgiving table, and while thinking of these little guys I happened to look up at my new fall centerpiece.
My mom gave me this pretty aluminum tray for my birthday last week and I wanted to display it, so I placed a few squash on top and anchored them with some walnuts. Walnuts! Walnuts are sort of the same shape as a turkey body, I thought. And, if you sit them up right, they could be little people - little Indians and Pilgrims. All we'd need to do is make a base for them to stay in place and give them a face!
Luckily, Pete's new hobby is pulling TP off the roll. (Never thought I'd say that!) But, cut down to size they would make the perfect base - sort of like the rings that hold Easter eggs.
The circumference of a TP roll is wider than the base of a walnut, so I slit the roll open and then cut it into strips that I could reconfigure to fit my walnuts.
The bases needed further customization, so Adelae covered two strips with black marker for the Pilgrims' clothes. Gluing on black paper or fabric strips would also work.
Adelae filled two thick strips with black marker and one thin strip orange, for Mr. Turkey. Then she added a few dots of glue and I formed the circle bases.
Using tape on the inside and a paperclip helped to hold the rings in place while they were drying.
The Indian bases could just stay cardboard brown, but if these were going to be on the Thanksgiving table they needed something a little special, so I formed them "naked", and then Adelae applied glue to the outside of the ring.
I had this woven brown fabric in my scrap box, so we cut it to fit and glued on the Indians' clothes. Now we had all five bases. Plop in the nuts and voila, right? Wrong. This is where I always seem to get into trouble with my ideas. Something so seemingly simple can be consumed in the details, and I love details.
If you make these little guys at home, and I hope you do, have fun designing your own features and accessories using materials you may have on hand. Here are some of the details we gave our little nutty buddies.
I cut a hourglass shape apron and "w" shape collar from white fabric for Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim, then Adelae got them dressed.
They were starting to look cute, but still needed little hats. We cut these out of scrap cardboard and glued them in place. Make the brim of the hat to fit the pointy end of the walnut by cutting into the center of the circle cardboard.
We also gave Mr. Pilgrim a gold buckle cut from a scrap of foil paper. Mrs. Pilgrim's bonnet was just a scrap of fabric glued to her head. Their eyes, Adelae chose brown, are just little beads that she glued in place.
They are simple, but hey, they're pious Pilgrims!
The Indians' details were really fun to make. We made Mrs. Squanto's hair by cutting three lengths of jute (about 6" long), knotting them together in the center, and braiding each side and gluing on her wig. She also needed to get her color done, so I touched it up with black permanent marker to make it nice and dark.
Squanto is my favorite! A strip of jute (also blackened) glued in place made a Mohawk! More beads for eyes, some paper feathers and turquoise marker necklaces complete the look.
Mr Turkey ended up being the simplest to make, but he also gave me the most grief mentally because I just had to come up with the perfect warbler - red paper would work, but I just knew we could come up with something better. You can never go wrong with ric-rac! I only had pink ric-rac on hand, so permanent marker to the rescue again - this time red! At least the feathers were simple, we just cut them from colored paper and grocery bags. That cool green pattern is from the side of a Whole Foods bag. We glued them in layers and then to the back of the turkey and his base.
Before gluing on the eyes and warbler, Adelae markered in a yellow beak and green head. Here is one of my tricks for getting the results I want while still letting little ones do the work: blocking off areas not to be marked. I do this all the time! Sometimes I fold back the area I want preserved, and sometimes I can just cover it with my hand, but for this project I just taped off the area she need not fill.At last we had the whole gang of Walnut Thanksgiving Friends together! This was a really fun project, and while our hands were busy we had great conversations concerning topics surrounding that first Thanksgiving and our Thanksgiving today. We talked about Indians as truly being Native Americans, the work of Squanto, and the real Native American Indians who still live down the street from us in a little village off the Tamiami Trail. We also talked about the Pilgrims who first came to America - and had nothing here except what they brought with them and the natural materials around here. We talked about how our country allows people to practice their faith freely.While our little Thanksgiving friends turned out pretty darn cute, it is conversations and the time spent together that truly makes these projects dear!
(By the way, this is not our first experience making nutty friends; a couple years ago we made a whole nativity scene for Grandpa using peanuts! I don't know what it is with me and nuts! I know, I know - nuts!)