This owl art project is made from recycled cardboard and a kitchen spoon. For more projects also see 12 Owl Art & Craft Ideas.
DIY Owls Made From Cardboard Boxes
I first found this project in a magazine article when I was around 7 years old (a long time ago!) when owls were all the rage in crafts and decor. And now they’re popular again, probably spurred on by the popularity of Harry Potter books.
I’ve noticed lots of owls on Etsy and Pinterest recently and decided to create a really easy version that both kids and adults can make. Just make sure an adult handles the hot glue gun (if you use one). There are more fun recycled Earth Day craft projects here.
The materials are all household items, making it entirely recycled with the exception of the glue.
Once you’ve mastered the basic owl, you can go on to embellish it to look like any type of owl you like. But for starters, we’ll do the sweet and simple owls.
Overview of Steps
1. Cut out the cardboard strips (see sizes listed in Materials list below) and wings.
2. Peel off one paper side of the box to expose the corrugated section inside.
3. Roll up each piece of cardboard to get a nice rounded roll before applying glue.
4. Apply a line of glue down the inside middle length of each cardboard piece, roll up snugly, hold closed with elastic bands while glue is drying.
5. Make beak.
6. Glue pieces together.
Materials For Making Earth-Wise Owls
- 2-3 Corrugated cardboard boxes (12″x18″x18″) – “corrugated” is the wavy layer in between the outer and inner paper walls of the box.
For this project you will peel off one layer of paper, leaving one other layer plus the corrugated middle.
From the cardboard boxes cut out the cardboard pieces listed below for Mama and Baby:
Mama Owl (8″ tall) Materials
- Body: (1) 4″ x 140″ strip of cardboard (you can use several shorter pieces—at least 16″ long—and join them if needed)
- Head: (2) 4″ x 45″ strips of cardboard – these form the cylinders for each of the eyes
- Beak wrapper: (1) 4″ x 6″ piece of cardboard
- Wings: (2) 4″ x 7″ piece of cardboard – cut to form wing shapes (see below)
- Eyes: (2) Black buttons (1 1/2″ in diameter)
- Beak: (1) Silver cereal spoon with 4″ handle or a bit shorter
Baby Owl (4″ tall) Materials – This is for ONE baby owl
- Body: (1) 2″ x 45″ strip of cardboard (you can use several shorter pieces—at least 6″ long—and join them if needed)
- Head: (2) 2″ x 20″ strip sof cardboard
- Beak wrapper: (1) 2″ x 3 1/2″ piece of cardboard
- Wings (2) 2″ x 3 1/2″ piece of cardboard – cut to form wing shapes (see below)
- (2) Black buttons (1 1/2″ in diameter)
- (1) Tiny spoon with 2″ handle or a bit shorter (I broke mine off with pliers to get the right length)
Tools and Glue
- Adhesive / glue that works on cardboard. I used a hot glue gun and it worked really well. [See it at Amazon]
- Ruler, pencil, scissors, elastics.
Related: DIY Repurposed Owl Wreath Tutorial
Steps For Making The Owls
Please read all of the steps first – there’s some tips you’ll want to know ahead of time.
1. Cut open one corner of each carboard box so the cardboard lays flat. Cut out the cardboard strips (see sizes listed in Materials list above).
And cut out the wings: first cut the rectanglular sizes listed, then place the two pieces wrong sides together (corrugated cardboad facing out), and cut out wing shapes like the one in my wonderful illustration (right).
2. Peel off the PRINTED side of the cardboard. If there is no printed side, just peel whichever side you want.
If the sides don’t peel off completely, just score the ridges of the corrugated cardboard with the tip of your scissors. The uneven texture will look good. Trust me.
I demonstrated this with big pieces of cardboard, but yours will already be cut to size: this makes it easier to peel them.
3. Before you start gluing and assembling your owl, take the time to roll up each piece of cardboard and form nice rounded cylinders with the cardboard. This will make it easier for the next step.
Related: 12 Owl Art & Craft Projects
You’ve just pre-rolled the cardboard strips, now you want to open them flat, one at a time, and apply the glue.
Tip: Make sure the cardboard that will end up visible on the outer roll of each cylinder looks good. Take note of which end of each strip of cardboard will be the inside middle – that’s where you’ll start gluing and rolling. The same way you roll up a sleeping bag.
4. Apply a line of glue down the middle center length of each cardboard piece, working in manageable sections. Roll up the cardboad snugly, hold closed with elastic bands while glue is drying. I’m using a tube of silicone in the photo but I found a hot glue gun works faster.
Here’s another nature project idea: DIY Thrift Shop Bug House
TIP: If you’d like your owl to have a rounded belly, push the centre of the cylinder out slightly before the glue dries (as shown below):
5. Make the beak.
- Bend the spoon where the handle meets the spoon head. You’ll want almost a 90 degree angle (see image below).
- Be sure your spoon handle is no longer than the depth of the beak cardboard piece. You don’t want it sticking out the back of the owl’s head!
- Pre-roll your beak cardboard so it will form a nice shape when you glue it.
- Apply glue to the length of the spoon handle and fasten to one inside end of the cardboard piece. Roll it up snugly.
- Hold in place with elastic band while the glue is drying.
- This shows how the beak looks from the side:
6. Next glue the rolled beak piece onto the body. I added mine where the cardboard roll ended on the body (to hide it).
- Glue eye rolls to body and beak.
- Glue on button eyes in centre of head cylinders.
- Glue on wings, tucking top end just under sides of eye cylinders and have corrugated cardboard facing out. Secure to body with glue midway down inside of wing.
- Allow to dry.
Who’s your Mama?
More Ideas For Decorating Your Owl
This is the simple version of the owl. If you want to embellish yours further, look up images of various types of owls and see what you like.
- You could add head feathers or ears, wire feet, or decorate it for Halloween with a little witch hat!
- Dress them up in hats and mitts and place them on a winter wreath.
- Hang several from a mobile.
- Make giant, open wings to make your owl in flight.
Here they are wearing red mittens in the snow:
More Ideas For Earth-Wise Owls
- Hang them on a door wreath.
- Give them seasonal accessories like hats, mitts, sweaters.
- Make them in more sizes – from giant to tiny.
- Or hang a little toy mouse from its beak: the horrors!
These babies are out of the nest for the first time.