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Craft Project:
Make an Uncle Sam Folk Art Figure

Presented by Holidays on the Net and Marilyn 's Imagination Factory
Make an Uncle Sam Folk Art Figure © 1997 Marilyn J. Brackney

Make an Uncle Sam Folk Art Figure

Uncle Sam Closeup

When you think of the Fourth of July or Independence Day, there are many patriotic symbols which come to mind. One of them is Uncle Sam, the long-legged fellow dressed in red, white, and blue. You may have seen this American icon at parades or other gatherings which are held to celebrate the birth of our nation.

Ever since his creation in the early 1800s, Uncle Sam has been a favorite subject of folk artists. These self-taught artists and craftsmen have used a variety of materials to depict the character, and Uncle Sam has appeared in paintings, drawings, cartoons, and as a three-dimensional figure. You can create your own folk art-style Uncle Sam with some found materials and basic art supplies.

You Will Need:

  • A fallen branch or twig
  • Block of wood
  • Scraps of felt
  • Fabric glue
  • Acrylic Paints
  • Acrylic modeling paste
  • Paint pans and brushes
  • Electric drill
  • Hot glue gun
  • Utility knife

How to:

The first step in making a folk art-style figure is finding just the right piece of wood. If you look at a pile of fallen branches or twigs, you'll notice that many resemble animals or people. After you've found a branch or twig that looks like a human figure, have an adult cut away any unnecessary wood from it. Now you're ready to paint the figure. There are many versions of what Uncle Sam looks like, but his clothes are always red, white, and blue to represent the colors in the American flag. Besides being very tall, he's usually dressed in red and white striped trousers or pants, and he wears a white shirt and a blue jacket.

Uncle Sam Figure

Most representations of Uncle Sam show him with white hair and a goatee, and you can paint them or make them with modeling paste. When the hair and paint are dry, have an adult drill two holes in the wooden base, and use a glue gun to attach the legs to it. Using modeling paste again, form the shoes around the ankles on the base. When the material is dry, paint the shoes, and carefully paint the base red, white, or blue. To make the base more interesting, decorate it with lots of small American flags or paint and glue cardboard or wooden stars all around the outside.

Uncle Sam's top hat is made by rolling a rectangle of lightweight cardboard and felt into a cylinder and then gluing it with fabric glue. Make the brim by cutting a circle in proportion to the rest of the hat, and glue it to the base of the cylinder. Finish by gluing a small circle on top of the form, and add a hat band in a contrasting color. Many folk artists like to include lots of stars, and these are often placed on the hat. When you're finished, proudly display your Uncle Sam figure, and have a star-spangled Fourth of July!

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