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Creating a toy soldier from clay pots

Try one of our holiday decorating ideas: an 18-inch “toy soldier” made from flower pots, paint, a few pieces of felt, ribbon and a few odds and ends. For less than $9 and a couple of hours of your time this can be an enjoyable project, especially if there are youngsters around to share the experience.

You will need five flower pots and paint. The rest is, in large part, up to you. Our toy soldier easily can be converted to an angel, Santa, an elf or whatever else suits your fancy. In this column, we will deal with the soldier.

First, the clay pots should be painted. The colors needed are black, red and blue. Two pots are painted blue, one black, one red and one is left unpainted. Next, add a black stripe to the rim of the unpainted pot and to one of the blue pots. Two tongue depressors should be painted red. Set them aside for later use.

Permanent assembly can be achieved by using a masonry adhesive or a hot glue gun. However, if storage is a consideration, use Velcro connections instead. This will allow disassembly and the placing of the pots one inside another.

Assembly begins by placing the blue pot with the black rim, rim-side down on the work surface. Next, connect the bases of the two blue pots, being sure to align them. You’ve now created black shoes and blue trousers. Next, attach the rim of the red pot to the rim of the blue pot. Then, connect the base of the unpainted pot to the base of the red pot. Finally, add the black pot to the top, rim down.

The next step is to add red stripes to the trousers, a white stripe to the shirt, a black collar, a black belt and a gold hatband. We used gold ribbon for the hat band, sticky-back felt for the trouser and shirt stripes and regular felt for the collar and belt. A simple brass ring was used for a belt buckle and, although regular buttons can be used, we went to a craft store and purchased a package of gold-colored plastic “cabochons.” The absence of a stitching protrusion on the back made them easy to attach with a hot glue gun.

Twenty-or-so small, gold-colored beads strung together with a gold sequin at each end can be used for the hat decoration. Gold-colored braid or rope is an alternative.

The arms are made from the tongue depressors that were painted red earlier in the project. Now, it’s time to add white gloves. Each consists of a pair of opposing pieces made from sticky-back felt. Red cuffs can be added in the same manner. A sequin is used at each cuff for a button. And a short piece of gold ribbon is wrapped around the top of the arm to simulate an epaulet. Now attach the arms to the body. The face can be painted. In our case, because we’re not artistic, we used plastic eyes and a felt mouth, instead. A short piece of black or red pipe cleaner rolled into a ball can be used for the nose.

Finally, a store-bought red-colored yarn tassel should added to the top of the hat. Or, you can purchase the yarn and make your own tassel.

Although we used 5-inch flower pots this time, we also have soldiers made with 10-inchers. They stand more than 3 feet tall. The big ones make nice porch decorations.

James Carey and Morris Carey are nationally recognized experts on home building and renovation.