Sunday, August 3, 2008

How to make a Pompom Owl

We are at the cabin, the weather has been cool, and the kids are itching for something to do. Lets make owls. The inspiration for this craft comes from Tasha Tudor. She was an amazing woman and artist. In her book on Heirloom Crafts she talks about making these owls and we are trying to recreate them here.
The materials you need to make one of these owls are:
brown and white wool
pipe cleaners
string or embroidery floss
felt in white,black,brown(optional)
First you need to make the pompom. For this owl I decided to try making an oval pompom(more owl shaped). You need to cut 2 oval shaped doughnuts out of cardboard. I made mine about the size of my hand. After cutting out one I traced the second so they were the same size.
You then need to make a shuttle. A shuttle is what holds the yarn while you are making the pompom. This is really helpful for kids, otherwise the yarn gets all tangled and you will have tears of frustration, trust me, your kids may even cry.....
I made mine out of cardboard. It basically is a strip, ruler shaped, with a small cut on one end. Insert your yarn or wool into slit and then start winding the yarn onto the shuttle. I tried counting how many times to wind it but after 200 gave up on that idea instead try to wind enough yarn so the thickness is equal to 2 of your fingers. Make sure it will still pass through the hole in the doughnut shape.
Once you have wound your shuttle you need to get it set up on the doughnut shape for your kids.
Place the end of the yarn between the two doughnut shapes and then wind a few lengths of yarn onto the doughnut shape holding tight.
You'll notice I wrote belly and body onto my shape. This is because we are going to make the belly white on this pompom so we are going to switch colors. By writing it on the shape it gives the kids a guide to follow.
Have them wind the brown yarn onto the doughnut filling in the space marked off for the body. They need to wind it tight so no cardboard shows in between the strands and they can go over it twice if they want a fluffier owl.
When its time to switch colors, thread the end of the brown yarn under one of the strands on the doughnut shape and pull tight, clip off.
To switch colors, rewind the shuttle with white yarn (you can also make a new one so you have two in action).
Place end of white between the two shapes and wind a few strands on again holding tight.
Continue winding until you have the belly covered and then end off.
Now the fun part you have to cut between the two doughnut shapes. Cut the yarn all around the shapes put DO NOT PULL THE CARDBOARD OFF YET!!!!
Take some yarn or heavy duty thread and pass it between the doughnut shapes. Pull tight and tie a knot, then tie several knots. You want to try and make it as tight as possible. Yarn can sometimes break at this step so I started to use heavy duty quilting thread. If you only have yarn use a double or triple strand. Clip ends and then pull off cardboard shapes.
Now give your pompom a haircut to get the shape right. Choose where the face is going to be.
For the eyes, we first cut out some light colored felt for the area around the eyes, we then used a little acrylic paint to paint feather like detail around the felt. We also used little touches of color on the white belly.
We then cut out black eyes to go in the center of the felt circles we had already cut and painted. On one of the owls we cut some brown felt into half circles to make eyelids so we could make a sleepy owl.
Then select some feathers for the ears. When you have it the way you like glue directly onto the pompom. Feathers first, then eyes.
For the feet take a pipe cleaner and cut in half. Take one half and make into an m shape. Bend the ends in so you don't stab yourself with the wire. Then take some string or embroidery floss and wind onto pipe cleaner. It helps to lie one end of the string along the pipe cleaner and then wind around it and the wire all at once this takes care of your loose ends.
At the end knot off. I had the kids place a bead of glue onto each end of the toes(or talon I guess) and spread onto the floss(string). This helps to keep them from unwinding. For the beak I took a small piece of pipe cleaner(3 inches) bent it in half, and wound some beak colored yarn on it. You could use the white yarn and paint it or color it with a felt if you needed could also just use a yellow pipe cleaner. I bent it into a beak shape before I glued it onto the owl.
Glue your feet onto the bottom of the owl near the front so you can see them and TaDa a woodlands owl perfect as a cabin decoration.
I also thought I'd post some painting practice. The weather hasn't been great so I've been painting from some photos my husband took in Switzerland last year.
See ya later


  1. another great one!

  2. Hi, Gail

    I just got your email starring the little black stamped owls in a tree. So cute! We may do them in our class at Youthful Expressions Studio. We appreciate your ideas and love using them.

    Please check out some of the things we do at and my blog at:

    Thanks so much for 'doin' whacha do'!

  3. So cute!! Pinning to my owl board ;-)

  4. très beau tuto merci

  5. Wonderful owls. Thank you for tutorial