Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Pinwheel Tutorial

I made pinwheels for the boys' easter baskets, which turned out to be one of those projects that you think is going to take ten minutes and then turns out to take two hours. I hesitated posting this tutorial because making these is actually a gigantic pain in the a**, but I posted a picture of someone else's tutorial on Pinterest and gobs of people repinned it, so I thought that maybe I could add my words of wisdom to all the pinwheel tutorials out there, to maybe save you a bit of frustration (or at least warn you there will be much!).

First, gather your supplies:

*heavy paper (I found a booklet of six inch cardstock squares with different patterns printed on each side in manly pastels)
*3/8" dowels
*cap erasers
*paints and brushes (I used this Clementine Arts natural paint that I bought a couple of years ago and which we hardly ever use--because it was so expensive--and which is starting to dry out)
*straight pins
*small beads

Cut your dowels in half and paint them festive colors.

 Draw lines from corner to corner on the inside surface of your paper and cut from each corner about 2/3 of the way to the center (if you cut too far, there will be too much torque on the wing and it will drag against the stem when it whirls).

Cut a small circle (or flower shape if you're fancy) of contrasting paper, poke a straight pin through a bead, through the center of the circle and through one corner of each triangle.

Finally poke the pin through the center of the pinwheel (where the two pencil lines cross) and add one or two more beads.

Now this is where it gets tricky. You need to get the pin into the dowel deep enough that it will stay without bending it. Expect numerous beads to go flying through the room and many curse words to be spoken. You may even fling a dowel or two. I finally found that adding an eraser cap (I imagine that this creates a little friction to keep the pin from slipping) and using a push-pin to pre-drill a hole in the dowel helps. 

There are many tutorials for these things all over the web, and they tend to gloss over this step, either making it sound like no problemo to push a sewing pin into hardwood, or suggesting sticking it just through the eraser. My guess is that most of these tutorials are designed for decoration and not children's toys. So, after much frustrating effort, I finally got all four assembled (the fourth was meant to be a prototype, and is a backup in case when someone's breaks) and whipped them through the air rather vigorously to make sure they will stay together for a little while at least.

They do look bright and festive on a gloomy day, don't they?


  1. I'm not doing this, but you could totally write for Family Fun.

  2. This is so awesome! Thanks for the tutorial.


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