Thursday, February 18, 2016
Happy Bluebird Pom Pom Critter
(FREE TUTORIAL by Deanne Crim)
I am obsessed with vintage style crafts. The kind that remind me of days gone by...whether its my own days gone by, or the days of antiquity, I am inspired and always intrigued. It isn't unusual to find me sprouting crafts that have a vintage flair.
Vintage Pom Pom toys were a popular item created and sold by Steiff® from the 1920's through the 1950's. Birds of all styles were very popular, as well as bunnies, chicks, and other animals. My endeavor to re-create my own version of these well-loved toys & decorations, begins with this adorable "Happy Bluebird" to welcome Spring!
Happy Bluebird is crafted with handmade pom poms and thread-wrapped chenile stems, for the arms and legs. The eyes are made of polymer clay and various coloring options, then domed with a liquid UV resin called "Magic Gloss by Lisa Pavelka®". You can find my free tutorial on how to make the faux glass eyes here:
I will be sharing free tutorials on an entire series of pom pom critters, so be sure to check back and see what the next menagerie addition is!
Medium Weight Yarn (colors of your choice):
Light Blue for the head and body and the wrapping for the arms.
White for the spots on the chest and top of head
Bright Yellow for the wrapping of the legs/feet.
*You can use any weight yarn of your choice, even thin baby-weight #1 will work fantastically, you will just have to wrap more of it to make the pompom full since its so thin. Just make sure that the yarn has a soft feel to it so your pom pom characters will be cuddly and soft.
This Happy Bluebird was made from a more expensive-ish yarn in the specific color I wanted, but in projects to follow, I found that Red Heart® Super Saver Yarn works masterfully! It comes in a gazillion colors and is ultra affordable, at just $3.19 per skein (full price at my local Joann craft store). With coupons it is a steal!! You will see in this continuing Pom pom series that I am single handedly keeping Red Heart® yarn company in business! lol
Waxed Cord or Strong Carpet Thread w/ Beeswax coating
This is to tie the pom poms together. The waxed cord is perfect, though I occasionally break it thru my brut strength (lol). You can also used dental floss but I don't know how it will hold up in the longrun. I purchased my waxed cord at Joann's craft store, however I have seen it everywhere that craft supplies are sold, or hardware stores.
Chenile Stems (pipe cleaners):
I use cotton chenile stems purchased through Amazon.com from a manufacturer here in the United States, BJ Long.
You can find a link to the Amazon.com page HERE
The chenile stems come in two sizes (I use both sizes, depending on the size of the pom pom critter or doll, and the thickness of limbs I am trying to make. I most often use the larger size for the medium sized critters such as the bluebirds).
These particular chenile stems are very soft, like the old fashioned ones, not like the ones sold in craft stores today, which are synthetic fibers and have a more "hairy" texture, which is a bit more difficult to thread-wrap and cover. However, the regular ones can certainly be used on your projects successfully, if you have a few on hand, it just may take some careful wrapping to hide the fibers.
Aleene's Tacky Glue or Fast Dry Tacky Glue:
This is always my craft glue of choice. You cannot beat Aleene's to do the job and hold things in place over time.
I find that these characters look adorable without eyes. I went back and forth deciding whether or not to include eyes or leave them off. Once I made the faux glass eyes using polymer clay though, the decision made itself. They turned out with so much personality and character that I had to use the polymer clay faux glass eyes!
*You can also use 6mm, 8mm or 10mm black beads for the eyes (sewing or gluing them in place), which gives the characters a very sweet look. For kids crafts you can use simple circles cut from felt then glued in place, or inexpensive googly-eyes purchased from the craft store (the ones with wobbly black pupils in the middle of the plastic domed eyes).
**Keep in mind, if you use faux glass eyes or beads, the pom pom toy will not be suitable for smll children to play with, as it presents a choking hazard!! Please use felt circles for small children's gifts!!
I made a small pom pom "Flowered Egg" as an accessory for my Happy Bluebird and gave him a small bouquet of paper millinery flowers for his favorite "Chick".
I purchased the millinery flowers from my local mish-mosh-awesome-fabric-craft-store; SAS Fabrics, here in Phoenix Arizona. You can find millinery flowers to purchase online, or make your own paper flowers. Check youtube for video tutorials.
If you do not intend for your pom pom critter to be a toy that can be held and played with...(yes, adults want to play with their pompoms too!)...It is a great idea to make a stand for your critter.
I like to use small round wooden discs (available at every craft store) in various sizes depending on the size of the pompom character, for display stands. You can either glue the feet of your critter in place on the top of a painted wooden disc (embellished with felt, fabric, lace, trim, etc. if you desire), or you can pre-drill two holes, spaced an inch or so apart at the center (approx), and use ribbon or wire to securely tie the feet to the disc, coming up through the holes from underneath, then wrapping and twisting around the "ankles" and "feet" of your critter.
If you use ribbon, you can bring it up from the bottom, through the holes, and tie a pretty bow to secure in a more optional manner, where it can be removed. Glue will always secure the best, but it will leave no options...once its glued, its there for good!
Sharp Scissors (to cut yarn & trim pom poms)
Wire Cutter or Kitchen Shears (to cut chenile stems)
Corsage Pins (for securing poms in place while glue dries)
Clover® PomPom Maker Tool
(You can find it on Amazon.com: Here)
Here is a link from the blog Homeade-Gifts-Made-Easy.com for various sizes of:
If you think you might enjoy this craft project, I strongly suggest purchasing Clover® Pompom maker tools, because you can whip out pompoms in no time flat! I have been astonished at the production level I have been able to achieve! I have made pompoms since I was a kid (many many moons ago), and the Clover® tools are sheer GENIUS!!
I cannot tell you how much faster they get the job done then the old cardboard template "donuts" I used in the olden days! Better yet, the Clover® tools are extremely affordable! Other than the largest size, they come with two sizes to a package, and are under $10.00 at my local Joann's craft store.
If you have a Joann's store near you, or you're able to purchase from them online at Joann.com, not only can you use one of their endless 40% off coupons, they also carry all of the sizes, which range from 3/4" up to about 6".
Pom pom sizes can also be adjusted based on how much yarn you trim off. Each tool will actually create various sized pompoms, including much larger then their description mentions. If you wrap the pom pom maker very full it will produce a pompom much larger then the tool itself.
Let the Crafting Begin!!
1. Using the Clover® yellow colored pom pom maker (size 1-5/8")
wrap approx. 8-10 rounds of white yarn at the top center (only) of the pom pom maker tool (or cardboard template). This will form the tuft on the top of the head. Cut the yarn leaving a 1/2-inch tail that you can hold in place with your fingers while you add the blue yarn to the pom pom maker and wrap over the white area. Once you trim the pom pom the extra length with get trimmed away.
2. Begin wrapping over the white yarn with light blue yarn, filling in the sides and over the top of the white wraps to cover it completely. Continue wrapping light blue yarn until the pom pom maker is full. Wrap the other side of pom pom maker with all light blue yarn. If you are new to making pompoms you can practice making a few single colored ones to get comfortable with the process, but its pretty simple!
3. Trim pom pom loops through the crevice in the Clover® pom pom maker, as described in the package directions. (photo is a different color then the light blue head, in case you noticed and thought your eyes were tricking you...I forgot to take a photo while making the light blue head...oops!)
Tie a piece of waxed cord, pulling it up through the center of tool and around the total yarn wrapped fuzz ball (as described in tool information or in cardboard pom-maker tutorial); pull very snuggly, and tie a square knot to secure. Tie one additional knot just to be extra safe! Don't fret if your cord breaks, it happens to me all the time when I get to "He-womanish"...start over and you'll be good!
4. Pull apart the pom pom maker tool to release the pom pom. The pom pom will be irregular shape when you remove it, so don't fret!
Grab the cord-tie ends and shake back and forth in the air to fluff and shake loose.
5. Trim pom pom into a round shape with your sharp scissors, leaving the white wrapped "tuft" of feathers untrimmed so it sticks up like fluffy "bird hair" (okay, "feathers" if you insist!). Go slowly with the trimming...a little goes a long way, and you can't grow it back, so don't be aggressive with your scissors.
When first starting to trim, I hold onto the cord tie ends snuggly, trimming around and around and around, cutting in a "rounded" action that attempts to create the roundness from all angles. (You'll get better and better at this, the more pom poms you make). As you trim the blue yarn fibers, shaping the head into a round sphere and avoiding the white fibers, you will begin to see the white head tufts rise above the blue nicely. Once the head is shaped nicely you can trim the white tufts neatly, but keep them longer then the other blue yarn to give the bird some character. (I've made several of these and its always amazing to see the individual personality come forth...no two are exactly alike!)
Using the yellow Clover® Pom Pom Maker (size 1-5/8") wrap the center section on half of the Pom Pom tool with white, for chest "feathers". The amount can vary depending on how much white you want. Experimentation is your best friend. You will learn a lot by trying different things. Wrap the entire pom pom tool with light blue (or color of choice) covering over the white yarn completely. Wrap the pom pom tool fully, yet still able to fold back into the trimming "chamber" as directed in tool instructions. (When I make mine, I wrap extra full because I like tight pom poms which trim into nice solid shapes, but you can make loose pom poms with wonderful results, also)
Cut through the loops as instructed in general package directions (or instructions with the cardboard template), and tie with a strong square knot using waxed cord. Add an additional knot for good measure! Remove from the tool and shake the pom pom to fluff.
8. Trim body into an oval shape (which is easy because the pom poms come out of the tool in an oblong shape!) Just as with the head, avoiding trimming the white yarn "feathers" until the very end, so you have the ability to keep them longer.
The chenille stems for the arms must be glued into place on the upper part of the torso prior to attaching the head.
Separate the pom pom yarn with your fingers at the top of the oval shape, holding the fibers apart so you can glue the chenille stem in place without getting a glue mess everywhere.
(see photo below)
10. Place a blob of glue at the center of the yarn separation.
11. Take a chenille stem and decide where the center is more or less. (You will be trimming them eventually, so it isn't critical to be exact...unless of course you are an obsessive perfectionist, which we can discuss later in our 12-step Craft-a-holic Meeting!) haha
12. Lay the chenile stem/pipe cleaner across the parted yarn, pressing it down into the glue to nestle in the yarn fibers.
13. Add a large blob of glue on top of the center point of the chenile stem where you will be attaching the head.
14. Keeping the tuft feathers on the top, attach the head pom pom by pressing into the glue, holding firmly in place. (You need a fair amount of glue to attach it, but you don't want so much that it makes a hard spot that is easily felt when the glue dries.
15. Using a long corsage pin, stick the point end through the top of the head and into the body (temporarily), until the glue is dry enough to hold it securely.
Turn upside down (to the center underside of the body), and separate yarn fibers with your fingers just as you did for the arms, then place a blob of glue at the center point, then place the center of a chenile stem into the glue.
17. The overflow glue will allow you to take your fingers and press the surrounding yarn pieces together from front and back, hiding the chenile stem. Hold onto it for a few moments to secure in place.
18. Allow glue to dry completely.
(okay, so its upside down...but you get the idea!)
19. Eyes & Beak:
I probably should have waited to attach the eyes until the end, but this little guy was screaming to see, so I jumped ahead and glued his eyes on! I used my polymer faux glass eyes to create a whimsical real-life look, but you can also use beads or felt circles to make the eyes.
For the beak, I cut two small triangles using yellow/gold felt and placed them one atop the other (to form a two sided beak that could be shaped), deep into the fibers (gluing along the straight edge of the beak triangle). The size depends upon the look you want to achieve...some beaks are bigger than others...Use your imagination!
20. The arms and legs are finished off by wrapping with yarn fibers. The arms are done in the same color as the body and head, whereas the legs are done in a golden yellow.
First the legs must be trimmed to the length you want. This is a matter of choice. Sometimes a long gangly legged bird can be adorable, other times a short squatty bird is full of the character you want...its your choice! I made mine about 3-1/2" to 4" long. Bend up about 1" into a "U" shape at the bottom to get an idea of where the foot will be. (I make a big loop at the bottom which will later be formed into a webbed shape foot).
Place a thin dab of glue on the long leg side of the chenille stem (just above the height where the "U" top measures); Attach the end of yellow yarn there to secure in place. Unbend the "U" shape slightly so you can effectively wrap the yarn around the chenille stem, keeping in mind where your bend will be as you go. and begin wrapping around the chenille stem towards the "U" bend and the end of the chenille stem, covering with yellow.
Before you get to the very end of the chenille stem, bend the "U" back into upward shape, bringing the end of the chenille stem together with the main leg and wrap around both the end and the leg, forming a loop to secure closed.
(Sorry I forgot to take the photo...ugh)
Its a good idea to place tiny dabs of glue once in awhile to secure the yarn for years to come, but don't use too much! I am the "GLUE POLICE" and order you to be careful with your glue so you will end up with a fine quality handicraft! Wayward glue drips can ruin a project in no time flat, so be very careful!
Continue wrapping up the leg towards the body in an even manner, going all the way to the very top of the leg. Wrap around the upper part of the leg to form a tapered shape that resembles a "thigh". Once you achieve the look you like, place a tiny dab of glue near the top of leg to hide the end. Trim and hold carefully to make sure the yarn end grabs the glue. Repeat for opposite leg.
22. Carefully bend the loop upward into a "foot" angle, then bend the center of the foot loop inward to form a heart shape (or webbed foot, whichever terminology you prefer!) Voila! you have bird feet!
23. Arms are completed in a similar manner, first measuring and trimming the chenille stems to the chosen length, then using blue yarn that matches the body & head, repeat the process for the legs to wrap the arms. *Make the end loops smaller than for the feet.
As you can see from the photo, the arms have been wrapped slightly thicker than the legs...no real reason other than I think they look better being a bit thicker...just as wings are bigger then skinny bird legs, right?
Final Touches & Accessorizing
This sweet birdie is ready for springtime with his tiny paper flower bouquet (purchased at my local SAS fabric store...if you ever visit Phoenix, you MUST visit my HEAVEN on earth!) and a beautiful decorated Easter egg pom pom...which you can make yourself!
I used the small Clover® pom pom maker (purple size .75 inches).
To make the tiny egg, begin by wrapping a flower "center" color on the pom pom tool with 3 or 4 wraps of color, then trim off.
Next add the flower "petals" color by wrapping on both sides of the center color and across the top, covering the "center" color completely but not too many wraps because you need room for "leaves" and also the base cream color.
Add a few wraps of green (or leaf color of choice) on each side of the flower "petal" color.
Then wrap the base/background color of the egg over all of the colored flower wraps, covering completely and wrapping the tool fully but not too bulky to fit back into the pom pom maker tool!
Repeat on the other half of the pom pom maker if you want the design on both sides, otherwise, wrap the opposite side with the background color (I chose off white).
Cut ends and tie with waxed cord, then remove from pom pom maker (per package directions) and trim into a nice tidy egg shape. (You can see the difference in size, comparing the one on the left which was just removed from the pom pom maker, to the one on the right which has been trimmed). Place the spring egg in the bent arm of your birdie and you are ready for a Fantastical Spring Fling!
I hope you have enjoyed this free tutorial for a Springtime Birdie Pom Pom making! Please share your thoughts and pics with me here if you decide to dive into the world of Whimsical Pom Pom Pets!
Wishing you Sugarplum Dreams & Happily Ever Afters!!