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Woman Makes Amazing Giant Nutcracker For Free Out Of Craft Scraps

December 11, 2020, 9:30 AM
  • Mandy Mowbray, 49, made the 7ft-tall figurine with cardboard tubes, a lick of paint and some leftover craft supplies
  • It took her a week to make and she hopes the project will spread some Christmas cheer
  • Her handsome creation is a hit on social media, with 4.8k reactions and almost 1,000 comments

The trend for oversized Christmas decorations show no sign of fading and this life-sized Nutcracker sets the bar high when it comes to making your own.

The 7ft-tall figurine was made by Mandy Mowbray, 49, a part-time cleaner from Bishop's Waltham, near Southampton. Amazingly, it didn't cost her a penny, as it was created entirely from free cardboard tubes, leftover paint and some craft scraps she already had at time.

“I saw the idea for the Nutcracker Christmas craft on Facebook. A lady in America had made one and I thought ‘I can do that’,” she told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk.

“I've always loved Nutcrackers since I was a little girl and went on a school trip to see The Nutcracker ballet,” she continues.

But there was an extra special reason why Mandy poured her heart and soul into the project.

“My friend Tracey has four girls who all love Christmas. Her youngest needed heart surgery twice in the last month and is recovering at home. I thought the Nutcracker would really cheer them up after all they have been through.”

It took her a week to make, as she spread the work across multiple evenings once her own daughter was tucked up in bed.

“A friend provided all the cardboard tubes for me,” she says. “She got them from a company she knows that uses them to transport large vinyl signs. They were happy to give some away."

Once Mandy had chosen the tubes she needed for the body, arms and legs, she started building the character.

“I drilled holes in the cardboard tubes for the arms and secured them in place with metal bolts and butterfly nuts. This means it’ll be easy to take him apart after Christmas and put him into storage,” she says. “I then glued baubles onto the end of each arm for the hands.”

Mandy cut an empty Pot Noodle pot in half to make the feet and glued them to the ends of the legs. Next, she painted the body, arms and legs in traditional colours using Frenchic paint.

“I paint a lot of furniture and love Frenchic paint so knew I had the perfect colours for it,” she says.

“I painted his face freehand, using my own little wooden Nutcracker as a guide. I loved painting his face and decided I wouldn't give him the bared teeth that you often see on Nutcrackers.”

Paint job complete, it was time to get the Nutcracker upright.

“Attaching the legs was the hardest part, and it took a few attempts,” she says. “I ended up securing a section of wood up inside the body with little blocks that fit into the tubes. Then, with the help of my husband, we slotted the body onto the legs.

"My husband also made a secure wooden base and a pole that is hidden at the back, so that there’s no chance of him toppling over.”

All that was left to do was add the finishing touches. Mandy made his nose from a wood offcut, and topped off his hat with a golden chain and a big red feather. The white fur for his hair and beard was recycled from an old Christmas stocking she found in her loft.

“I used some braid for his tunic and added some old military buttons, too,” she adds.

The end result is a sight to behold, and a hit on social media. When Mandy shared her creation in a makeover group she’s a member of, it attracted a whopping 4.8k reactions and almost 1,000 comments.

“Making the Nutcracker didn't cost me a thing, as I used materials I was given for free or already had at home,” she said. “I love making all sorts of crafts, so have an extensive collection of buttons, trim and feathers on hand.”

Mandy has since gone on to make beautiful Christmas wreaths with fresh foliage.

“I foraged for the foliage within my daughter’s school grounds,” she reveals. “With the headmaster’s permission of course!”

According to German folklore, nutcrackers were given as keepsakes to bring good luck and protect the home. Mandy’s handsome craft certainly looks fit for the job.

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk comments: “Giant Christmas decorations can cost hundreds in the shops. Plus, they can be tricky to get hold of this close to Christmas.

“Mandy’s project is a great lesson in making your own. Even if you haven’t got a stash of craft supplies at home, you can pick up everything you need to make one cheaply.

“It's a brilliant way to spread some Christmas cheer.”

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