Straw animal sculptures make a handsome accent to a country garden or thatched roof. Professional sculptors sell commercial straw animals, but the high-quality models can cost hundreds of dollars. Bending and twisting wires can be hard, time-consuming work, but the results are well worth it at a small fraction of the cost of purchasing commercial straw creatures.
Bundle straw together to make the animal's basic shapes. For example, if making a dog, bundle straw together into a long, fat cylinder for the body, four shorter, thin cylinders for the legs, a stout cylinder for the neck and a slightly longer cylinder for the head.
Wrap a line of wire around the basic shapes, leaving 6 inches of space between each wire. Twist the ends of the wires together, using pliers if necessary and cut off the excess wire with tin snips.
Cut chicken wire or stucco lathe to size with tin snips. Wrap wire tightly around each basic shape to contain it. Twist the ends of the chicken wire together with wires to secure them.
Assemble the basic shapes to make a rough animal shape. Connect the shapes together in the appropriate spots by twisting the ends of chicken wire together with pliers. Twist in additional wires at the connection points for extra support, if necessary.
Build straw around the animal's basic body to make the musculature and features. Wrap additional chicken wire around the additional straw to contain it and twist the ends of the chicken wire into the original structure with pliers, twisting in additional wire if necessary.
Stick straw through the chicken wire into the underlying straw to make furry features. If making a bearded dog, for example, stick straw into the end of the snout and trim the ends with scissors to create the desired shape.
Make several sketches or mould a small clay model of your animal to use as a reference when building the life-size straw animal. Place a tarp over your animals or take them inside to protect them from wind and rain.