Monday, August 5, 2013

Craft a Christmas Soldier Wearing a Bearskin Hat

      This sleepy eyed soldier can't wait to slumber. He has hung on my Christmas tree for over twenty years now, watching and waiting for Santa. My soldier is dressed from the top of his hat to the toes of his boots in formal regimental attire. He sports a tall, bearskin hat decorated with an ornamental red feather and a glittering golden star. 
      He was not difficult to make. I simply cut out a large "U" shaped pattern extending the length of a toilet paper roll for his bearskin. Measure the diameter of the cardboard tube's opening and add 1/2 an inch to it so that you may have plenty of room to glue down the front of his bearskin to the back, along the outside edge of his paper hat. I used the paper from a heavy, recycled grocery bag to craft the soldier's hat. You can trim the outside edge of the hat later after fitting it and gluing it to one end of your paper tube. This measurement will vary given the size of the cardboard tube that you have chosen to work with. 
A bearskin is a tall fur cap, usually worn as part of a
 ceremonial military uniform. Traditionally, the bearskin
 was the headgear of grenadiers, and it is still worn by grenadier
 and guards regiments in various armies. This Drum Major is
in the United States Marine Band called, "The President's
Own. He also holds a ceremonial mace in preparation for
reporting to the parade commander at Marine Barracks in D. C.
      Next you should stuff the hat and tube, that are glued together, from the bottom opening with soft cotton or polyester batting. This will support the inner shape of the bearskin hat so that it will not collapse over time. Then paste a cardboard circular disk at the bottom of your ornament to seal shut the opening of the ornament. You can measure this cardboard piece by holding the tube on top of a sheet of heavy cardboard and drawing around the tube's diameter with a number two pencil. Cut the circular shape out and hold it up to the end of the tube to ensure that it will close the end of the tube neatly.  Squeeze out a tiny bit of glue around the edge of the cardboard circle and press the stuffed ornament on top of this last piece to finish off your soldier's form. Let the glued form dry over night before painting it.
      I painted my sleepy eyed Christmas soldier with acrylic paints. But first, I drew a few simple lines on top of the stuffed cardboard shape on order to guide me while applying the paint. You might like to study similar uniforms in photos and video before drawing out your own design. Don't over complicate your ornament. Give him a face, coat, arms and pants. My little guy is in the sitting position, this is why the bottom side of his boots are painted on the front side of the tube. It is not easy to stand at attention on the boughs of an evergreen. He is one of the older Drum Majors and is allowed to sit near the bottom branches of the tree. Age has it's privileges!
      After painting my soldier I gave him a generous coat of acrylic varnish. This will help preserve your work and give the homemade ornament some extra polish.
Changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, summer 2010. Gotta love marching bands.

More ornament crafts of toy soldiers:
More ornaments from my collection representing St. Paul's Cathedral 
and a Royal Guard wearing a bearskin hat.

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