HURON, S.D. (AP) — A Huron woman is using her creative flair to make unique Christmas tree decorations with a twist — she uses pheasant feathers and moose droppings. Lila Bawdon started this intriguing new trend two years ago.
The droppings she uses are shipped to her from Alaska. Bawdon's daughter, Diane, lives there and in 2009, while visiting her, Bawdon noticed that moose droppings products were being sold in stores. "I thought, if they could do it, then I could make them myself," said Bawdon.
"My daughter collects them, in the spring, after they've dried," she said. "Then she sends them in the mail to me."
Each dropping is about the size of an almond and Bawdon has her own method of transforming them from useless crap into beautiful, eye-catching ornaments.
"They are easy to make," she said. "I put a screw-eye in the top, spray it with shellac to seal it, and then go right ahead and paint it," she said.
"They don't smell at all, not like you think they would," she adds.
An avid fan of the Peanuts comic strip, she has painted several of the ornaments to have Snoopy's face on them.
Besides her fascination with moose manure, she also is excited about making Christmas ball ornaments decorated with pheasant feathers. Her son, Brad, shoots the pheasants, skins them, and brings her the feathers.
"It's surprising how many different kinds of feathers are on a pheasant, when you start working with them," she said. "Lots of different browns, tans, whites and even blue feathers on them."
She says making them gets to be "kind of a feathery mess," but it's a fun way to keep busy. "I start sorting the feathers out and snipping them into shape. There's so many colors on pheasants, it's unbelievable."
Bawdon has always been the creative type to put crafts together.
"I make a lot of things out of wood," she said. "And I do enjoy cross-stitching and crocheting — any type of craft, I usually like to do."
She moved to Huron in 1968. In 1970, her husband started working for Fiala Construction and several years later, she started working there as well. Her children were pretty much grown by that time. "I worked in construction for 10 years," she said. "There wasn't hardly any women in the field in those days," she said. "I've done a lot of shingling and helped build a couple of houses, too," she said.
She retired from the construction industry in 1994. Bawdon said she enjoyed construction mostly because she likes working with her hands.
"Anything to keep my hands busy. You stick a board in my hand and I just go to work on it," Bawdon said, with a chuckle.