Let us put by some hour of every day for holy things...

I will not doubt, though all my ships at sea
Come drifting home with broken masts and sails.
I will believe the Hand which never fails,
From seeming evil, worketh good for me.
And though I weep because those sails are tattered,
Still will I cry, while my best hopes lie shattered:
I trust in Thee.
--Ann Kimmel

Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, the labor of the olive shall fail and the fields shall yield no meat, the flock shall be cut off from the fold and there shall be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation. Habakkuk 3:17-18

Saturday, November 17, 2012

That All-Important Turkey: Tutorial

Okay, friends, here is the first of the Thanksgiving cyber demonstrations I promised you.  

Turkey is wonderful, and if you want to know how to roast one or fry one or stuff one, you can probably find everything you ever wanted to know about it somewhere on the web. Somewhere else, that is.

What I'm going to show you are the necessary techniques to make the really important kind of turkey--the little candy turkeys that sit on your table and look silly and happy and festive and contain no nutritional value whatsoever! My kids grew up with this tradition, and even this year--my first one with no kids still living at home--I jolly well intend to carry on.

Here are the materials you will need:

 chenille stems, two colors (one should be orange or red) 
 craft glue
 tiny "googly" eyes
 string or cord
 tulle scraps or circles
 yummy brightly colored candy such as M & M's or Reese's Pieces
 extra set of hands (optional, but helpful!)

Snip your chenille stems into lengths of about 5 or 6 inches.  You can use whatever color suits you--here I have a turkey-ish brown.

Now shape your stems into little fiddleheads. First make a hook, roll it down a bit, and add a gentle curve. Like so:

Even young kids can do this part.

Now it's time to add a googly eye to each finished stem. I used craft glue, but you could use a hot glue gun, too, I imagine:
These will need to dry, and then you can do the other side in the same way.

Now, with a bright contrasting color of chenille, cut little pieces (one for each turkey) about 1/2 inch long. Run a bit of glue along the stem, directly under the fiddlehead part...

 ...and place the little piece (beak? wattle?) on the glue, and let it dry:

Okay, that was the hardest bit, and it was pretty simple, right?

Next, you'll need your tulle/ netting / lace fabric scrap. You can use one of those pre-cut circles you get at the craft store, or just cut a more-or-less square shape about 6" x 6". You don't have to be precise.

Here for this demonstration I've used orange, mainly because it's what I have on hand, but brown is especially nice for turkeys. It's pretty cheap at the fabric store, and you don't need much.

Now get your candy.  I use a scant 1/4 cup of candy for each turkey. 

Pour the candy in the center, gather up the netting...

...and tie it off with strong string.  (This is where the extra pair of hands comes in handy.)  

You can see where this is going, can't you? Take one of your stems and poke it into the bag. You may have to wiggle and jam it a bit.

AND.....   VOILA!

You can make them in all different colors, call them all sorts of different birds!  Turkeys for Thanksgiving, geese for Christmas, swans for weddings, ducklings for Easter.
This one is made with a tulle circle from the craft store.
This one makes me think of Odile from Swan Lake.  Not quite as graceful-looking, though!

This is the first time I've tried red lace fabric. I can see the possibilities!
Earlier today, while rummaging about for spare chenille stems in preparation for this tutorial, I stumbled across a box of old family photographs and had fun leafing through a few handfuls. I was pleased to find this one from a long-ago Thanksgiving where, if you look closely, you can see the turkeys at each place setting, before we've finished bringing the food to the table:

Well, I hope you've all had fun looking at my absurd little turkeys. Perhaps you know some little person who would enjoy helping to make these.  Traditions, even the seemingly foolish ones, help build family identity and bind us to one another. 

May God bless your family this Thanksgiving Day, whatever your traditions.



  1. Oh my goodness Victoria, these are just too cute! I wish I knew about this type of turkey craft when I was still living in Texas. I would have loved to make these with all my little cousins on Thanksgiving day.
    Seeing all the fowl possibilities makes me want to create some little peacocks, with a double layer of blue and green tulle :)
    Love the old photo too, thanks for sharing!


    1. Peacocks...What a good idea! And at the fabric stores you can find all those lovely glittery, meshy fabrics now. I am swooning at the thought!

  2. Look at little Madeline and Garland!
    I can't wait to try these!

    1. You see your future before you, Heather, when twenty years from now you'll be shaking your head in amazement at how little Laura, Zach, and Ava used to be!

  3. Love The turkeys!
    Wish I had time to make some before tomorrow
    maybe next year
    Hope you have a great thanksgiving