Thursday, November 18, 2021

Our Tradition updated and a Veterans' Program from the 1980's!

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Hi, Everyone. 

Normally, I don't do posts or decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving. But, we had a big project that needed to be done.

For 35 years we have had these wooden deer prancing across our front yard and hooked up to a large red sled, made with plywood and plumbing pipe runners. 

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The deer were originally designed (by me) for a therapy program at the Great Lakes Naval Base hospital for patients called 'PRIDE'. The deer along with other projects were designed to be made in the wood shop, craft rooms, and ceramic shop--start to finish by the patients as therapy and a way to earn spending money. The Vet patients were paid for finished pieces (through the hospital) and then these deer and other items were marketed at local art shows and at the Chicago Gift show wholesale to small shops, as the Veterans made these wooden deer.

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They were originally all stained or sealed wood, from 3/4" plywood, and designed to be pulled apart and shipped flat in a standard sized box. The heads were separate from the body and pegged to allow them to fit in the box. 

I kept 8 after two years of marketing them, and 1 Rudy which was designed from 2 x12 stock allowing us to drill and install an electric red blinking light for a nose.

Our original 9---over the years--- after a huge tree limb fell on them, windstorms, snow, and sleet had pared the herd down to 5. Last year we bandaged up two and bravely had five limping deer and a Rudy, who was in bad shape and splitting.

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Hubby said it was time, and he made new one-piece bodies from the original pattern. These were then painted in the garage and due to cold temps, finished on the kitchen table. We used exterior paints and the tails and racks were coated in exterior white. 

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Here are the deer set up in the kitchen with their original legs, and new darker bodies. 

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Rudy kept his original body, but it was faced on each side with new layer of  plywood. Now, he is thicker, but then he thinks he is the leader and special anyway--!

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I was concerned that the Very Dark brown stain---would never show up at night, so we went on a hunt for some lighter coloring to add! 

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I always do a lot of research before I do anything. I wasn't looking for a totally realistic reindeer, but not a cartoon either. 

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I decided on sponging lighter areas on the rears and front chest area like real reindeer fur. I used a mixture of the original dark brown and lots of white (+a little yellow and red) to warm up the dark brown. 

A fluffing layer of white was sponged on with a large feathery sea sponge.

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I made a stencil for the eye fur. Reindeers have puffy fur areas around their eyes they use to protect them in bad weather. More light coloring on the nose area, neck, chest and bellies. I still had plastic eyes left over from the original supplies. (We had paid for and delivered all the supplies to the hospital, even saw blades and sandpaper).

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A little sponged shading goes a long way.....hopefully the spotlights will pick up the white. 


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Rudy was so happy his nose began signaling it was time to go outside!

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Good Reindeer that they are... they lined up at the door behind Rudolph. Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen, 

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on Comet, Cupid, Donner ------


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and Blitzen!!! So darn cute!!

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A mini thundering herd....to be installed in the yard after Thanksgiving.

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Last year....The sled with the plastic pipe runners. Neighborhood kids, come and have their photos taken by Santa's Sled! 

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Such a fun tradition, and I can't help but think of all the smiling Vets, who were so proud to make these reindeer in the Great Lakes Naval Hospital Workshops for the Pride Program in the mid 1980's. 

I hope you enjoyed a little bit about our decorations! Can't wait to put them up again this year! 

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All the opinions and photographs in this blog are my own, unless otherwise designated. Please do not use my photos without permission. I have not been paid or reimbursed in anyway for my opinions, posts, or any products shown or anywhere I shop.

Thank you for your cooperation,


Sandi 








 

30 comments:

  1. These are just fabulous! The original project sounds great, but you're right -- after years in the elements, it's time for a re-do and you re-did perfectly. I love the white touching up to make them a bit more visible. That's a really good idea and your paining was just right -- not too much but enough to set it off well! Four star!

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    1. Wow, thanks, Jeanie. We were laughing at how they all looked a bit different! Hugs, and thanks for visiting! Sandi

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  2. Oh Sandi, I love, love, LOVE the history behind your sweet deer. I am so happy you were able to give them a facelift (as well as some serious reconstruction). They are truly a treasure. Jane

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    1. Thanks so much, Jane. Yes, we have talked about it for years. Last year we spent more time trying to keep the heads on then enjoying them! LOL. Have a great holiday! Sandi

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  3. Oh Sandi, they look fabulous! Great idea to add some lighter fur with a sponge application, just adorable and so special is the story where they originated! Wonderful restoration~ Happy Thanksgiving
    Jenna

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    1. Thanks so much Jenna, the deer are all huddled on the porch waiting to jump out into the yard. Happy Thanksgiving, back at ya!!!Sandi

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  4. These are AMAZING, Sandi, and I love the history of the Pride Program. They look so cute hanging out in your kitchen! It's no wonder they are a neighborhood attraction - it must be great when the kids come and take their photos with them. Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Thanks, Amy. We don't put Santa in the sled until Christmas--so the sled is ready for photos the rest of the time...a blanket of snow is always welcome!!Hugs, and Happy Thanksgiving!

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  5. A nice attraction in the neighbourhood. It's nice that you took care of them and fixed them up. Happy Thanksgiving.

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    1. Thanks, Thelma. I hope they are easier to see now! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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  6. What a soulful project! Just the sort of thing we love to drive around to see at Christmas. Enjoy the season!

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    1. I hadn't thought of their origin...and hadn't shared it before---seems we need those positive vibes now and then, thanks for stopping by! Sandi

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  7. They're gorgeous Sandi - so much nicer than mass produced plastic decorations too. I love the eyes especially, and the white paint really brings them to life. No wonder the neighbourhood kids get their photos taken with them!
    x

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    1. Aw, thanks! We are hoping to enjoy them for another 30 years...well, 15 maybe!!! LOL. Hugs, Sandi

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  8. Great job! How Magic and beautiful! Love this post. Hugs and blessings,Sandi. Maristella.

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    1. Thank you, Maristella. I've worn so many hats in my life, I sometimes forget a few of them. Hugs, Sandi

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    1. Thanks so much, waiting for some sunshine to take photos outside! Hugs, Sandi

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  10. I love your deer - so wonderful for the yard with lights on the sled - I'm green with envy!

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    1. I'm hoping to take day photos tomorrow, if we get a snow dusting! Hugs, Sandi

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  11. Sandi, I thought I had commented on your post. Guess not! I meant to! I am so glad you tidied up your wonderful deer and they look so pretty. It is always nice when a project can be brought to life better than ever and I know those neighborhood kids and everybody that sees them will just love them..I love them!..Happy Monday..xxoJudy

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    1. Oh, Judy---I think stuff evaporates, LOL. Thanks so much for visiting again! Sandi

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  12. Awww! These are super ADORABLE!

    LOVE,LOVE,LOVE them!

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    1. Awwwww, thanks! Yes, they turned out pretty well, and are fun! Sandi

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  13. How cute! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!

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  14. These are AMAZING, Sandi! Oh my word - I'm in love. I'm so excited you were able to recreate something that was so special to you and kept your family traditions alive and well in the process. I would have never thought of using the feathering technique with a sponge either - totally genius! I know your yard is the hit of the neighborhood. Sending you lots of hugs for a warm and magical holiday season, CoCo

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, CoCo. It was so sad when a tree limb took out 4 of them. The all slide apart into flat pieces, but they never were quite right after that. But we saved many pieces and hubby cut out some new bodies which made a world of difference. Paint didn't hurt either. Hugs back, Sandi

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Thank you for any and all comments. I will be happy to answer any questions or comments in replies or email! HUGS!