When I first arrived on Okinawa I thought my crafting days might be over. I was sure there would be limited opportunities for me to craft with a purpose like I enjoyed. Then I saw an advertisement in the Venture Magazine for a Bowling Pin decorating competition at the Emery Lanes Bowling Alley. I wasn’t sure what I would make, but it sounded like just the crafting challenge I was looking for. Not only would I get to put to use the countless Halloween Pins I had saved on Pintrest, but I would get to repurpose something that otherwise would have been thrown away. That was three years and several bowling pin creations ago. I have made a variety of pins ranging from an Evil Minion and Maleficent to Chewbacca, Yoda, and a Christmas tree.

If you think decorating a bowling pin will take too long or be too complex, I am here to tell you it can be whatever you make it. I have made complex pins (Maleficent) that took days or a really simple one with my daughter (Christmas Tree – I will share the details of this one closer to Christmas) that took just a couple of hours. It really is all about what you want to make and how much effort you want to put into it. To give you an idea of what I do when making a bowling pin creation I will walk through the steps I took when making my new Scarecrow Bowling Pin.

  • You will want to start with an idea of what you want to do, since my 4 year old daughter recently fell in love with the Wizard of Oz, my decision to make a scarecrow this year was a no brainer. (Pun intended.) I didn’t want it to look exactly like the scarecrow from the movie, but instead be my own unique interpretation. Actually, I let the supplies I could find locally direct me, but I am jumping ahead a step. So to recap, step one is to decide what you want to create.
  • Next you will want to look for supplies and decorations.  One of my favorite places to look for unique crafting supplies on Okinawa is the 100-yen store. They are great for finding small amounts of fabric, yarn, and unique items like the Jute material I wanted for the scarecrow and small pumpkins to add more detail.    Another great place to buy craft supplies is Crafty Things on Kadena. It is my go-to place for a wide variety of acrylic paint and brushes.    I will put a list of all the items I used at the end of this list for anyone interested in making their own scarecrow.
  • Once you have all your supplies, you will want to wash your bowling pin to remove any dust and debris that may be left over from being used. I recommend a Clorox wipe or wiping it down with soap and water.    Let’s be honest, the bowling pin you receive will be a pretty beat up pin that can no longer be used at the alley, but don’t worry, the next step will help you get rid of those knicks and dents.
  • After your pin has dried you will apply a coat of spray paint to the entire pin.    For my scarecrow I chose a dark brown local spray paint, because I wanted it to play off the brown in the plaid material I purchased.    ormally, I would recommend a coat of white primer paint that way you can hand paint whatever color you want on the outside. I do find that spraying the entire pin first really helps the acrylic paint used later stick better.
  • Once the paint has dried you’re ready to start decorating. I started first with the scarecrow top. I found a brown and white plaid material at the 100 yen that was actually a “box curtain”. I cut the curtain into a smaller section and went to work wrapping it around the bowling pin. Using sewing pins I determined where I wanted to sew it together to make it into a shirt.   I pulled the material off the bowling pin and hand sewed it together. I also pulled down the triangular sections leftover in the front on each side and ruched them to add more depth to the plaid top.
  • Once the top was finished, I set that aside and did a similar thing to the bottoms. For this one I used a brown “box curtain” material I found.    Instead of pinning and removing the material to sew, I sewed the material together on the bowling pin. This allowed me to fit it more snuggly to the pin middle and bottom.
  • On top of the brown bottoms now sewn onto the bowling pin I cut and added a rough cut layer of jute material that I found at the 100-yen store in the outdoor section. I sewed this directly to the brown bottom material. Don’t worry about it being even or neat, the frayed and uneven edges add character and a layer of detail.   
  • I then pulled the plaid shirt down on top of the two-layer bottom and added a small amount of the jute material to the neckline area. I did not sew it to the top, but instead secured it and the top to the bowling pin with hot glue.    Lastly, I used some jute twine I already had and made a belt that went over top of the shirt.   
  • Before trying to tackle the face I decided to make the hat to see where it would fall on the pin. That way I didn’t take the time to paint a face and then have some of it hidden. I took some of the Jute material and folded it over to make a rough looking straw hat.    I secured the fold together with a quick stitch.    Then I cut a strip of the plaid material to add a band to the hat. I sewed the material around the hat.   
  • Next it was time to paint the face. I had an idea of what a scarecrow face should look like, so armed with my paint brushes and acrylic paint I went to work hand painting a happy face on my scarecrow.    I started with the orange triangular nose    and from there added in the mouth, eyes, and eyebrows.   
  • Then I cut strips of yarn and twine to create the “straw” hair. Since I knew finding real straw would be difficult, I decided to use something more readily available and durable. I cut strips of the twine I used for the belt, a dark brown and grey brown yarn and created six bunches of “hair”.    Each bunch was tied together with a piece of corresponding yarn. Then using hot glue, I glued each bunch to the top of the scarecrow’s head.    I was not worried about the section that was sticking up since it would be covered by a hat. Actually that part helped to fill in the top part of the hat and keep it from drooping. I placed a line of hot glue along the back part of the hat and secured it to the straw hair.   
  • The final step was to add in the pumpkins. I hot glued one to the hat    and one to the belt.   I liked the result, but felt it needed a little something more, so I decided to use the remaining jute material and create a base for the scarecrow. I did this by bunching and sewing the material together, hot gluing it to the bottom of the pin, and then adding in the last two pumpkins. I really like my end result.   

I hope these steps help you realize that making your own bowling pin creation come to life is not that difficult. All you need is a little thinking to come up with an idea, courage to go for it, and heart to make it your own.  I can’t wait to see what each of you come up with. Leave me a comment and share your end result. Sign up or follow my blog to continue being crafty. 

As promised here is the list of supplies I used in creating my scarecrow bowling pin.

– Bowling Pin

– Brown Spray Paint

– Brown Plaid Box Curtain

– Dark Brown Box Curtain

– Jute Material

– Jute Twine

– Dark Brown Yarn

– Grey Brown Yarn

– Accent Pumpkins

– Sewing Needle and Pins

– Thread

– Acrylic Paint

– Paint Brushes

– Hot Glue