Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Owl String Painting

Submitted by Allee Willis August 3rd, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

In the 1960’s and 70’s when string paintings were at the peak of their popularity more string owls lived on wallpapered and wood paneled walls inside houses than real ones lived outside. I never took the craft up. The strings in the crowded areas reminded me of tiny spider legs. The nails were tiny and unless you hit them dead on the black velvet would twist around the shaft and pucker everywhere. Then the string, or in this case yarn, had to be pulled completely taunt or you’d have a sagging bird. All those crisscrossing strings gave me Vertigo, especially when it got to places like around the eyes where there were so many of them it was like a spider convention at The Sheraton. This was way too precise of a task for a free-form, spontaneous artist such as myself. I felt the same way about Spirographs.

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As ubiquitous as they were there were way too many little spider leg lines for me and you had to adhere too strictly to the rules.

Whether fashioned out of string, metal or ceramic the owl is one of the most iconic birds in art. Although I collect string owl paintings I prefer my owls in more solid form. I have owl cups, …

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… an owl radio,…

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… an outdoor metal owl…


… and a zillion other forms of owls. I even have more owl string art.


I think my black velvet owl string painting is one of the best looking around, bare bones and to the point.


The disadvantage of owning a string art owl is that keeping him clean is nasty business. Black velvet is hard enough to keep clean without 12,000 little worms stretched across it. The next time you see string art at someone’s house take a good look. The little nails are like barbecue pits around which families of dust balls gather. So, no barbecues at my place, no owls on the wall, just a nice string painting, wrapped back in plastic, going back to nest in a rack in my garage until the next time I need a good look at the First National Bird Of Kitsch.


6 Responses to “Allee Willis’ Kitsch O’ The Day – Owl String Painting”

  1. Michael Ely

    Back in the day, I hated string art, but now I think it’s beautiful and I can appreciate the work that went into creating the pieces. Funny how one’s taste changes over the years, how we come to love what we once dismissed.

    Gotta love that owl radio, especially with the eyes that are the dials!

  2. Carrie

    I LOVE that owl radio. I also loved the Spirograph I had as a kid but I did eventually branch out into doing my own artwork without its assistance.

    My childhood best friend’s family had some great string art in their house – the one I remember most was in the downstairs bathroom. A lion as I recall. But nothing so fab as the owl in your first and last photos!

  3. k2dtw

    This is fabulous, the owl radio knocks me out… I loved the magic of the spirograph…
    The little owl that has the combination of yarns is so cool…is that a mohair or angora yarn?…just great!!
    They should bring these back using all the crazy wonderful new novelty yarns that are now making a comeback in all the knitting shops.