My favorite summer camp crafts are simple. I prefer crafts that require just a few materials, ideally found in nature or scavenged from the recycling bin. I also like crafts that are process-oriented, ones that will look fine whether they’re created by a novice or an expert, and that don’t take a ton of concentration.
By those standards, the Ojo de Dios is the perfect summer camp craft. It’s interesting, with a history that dates back far before the Spanish colonizers gave it its name, back at least to the Huichol Indians and other native peoples. The materials are easily found–you can make a beautiful Ojo de Dios from just a couple of sticks and whatever yarn you have on hand. And although you can create wonderful, elaborate designs, at its simplest the Ojo de Dios practically creates itself–just wrap and turn, wrap and turn, and the Eye of God will reveal itself to you.
Here, I’ll show you how to make the simplest version of the Ojo de Dios, but there are so many further avenues for exploration. The wheel is a pattern that lends itself to all kinds of symmetrical arrangements, and the addition of yarn colors and textures allows you even more scope for creativity.
To make the Ojo de Dios, you will need:
- sticks. If you’re camping, hunt for fallen twigs. If it’s a rainy day, use the chopsticks from your last takeout night, or cut the sharp tips off of bamboo skewers. If you want to go big, head to the hardware store for dowels or bamboo posts.
- yarn. My favorite yarn for this project is whatever I can find in my craft closet! If you want to buy new yarn, I recommend 100% cotton in any weight.
- glue (optional). You can bind your sticks together with yarn, but it’s easiest to glue them.
- embellishments (optional). Pompoms and tassels are great ways to finish the ends of the Ojo de Dios and use up a little more of that stash yarn.
Step 1: Glue sticks together to create the base of the Ojo de Dios.
You can make an Ojo de Dios with two, three, four, or more sticks. Cross the sticks at their center point, adjusting them until their angles all match. I like to use a compass for this, because I’m fussy!
Hot glue the sticks together at the center point. For a more authentic project, you can tie the sticks together, and for a more well-crafted project, use E6000 or a similar epoxy glue. Hot glue is a little messy and a little weak for this particular project, but it should hold together long enough for you to get the Ojo de Dios wrapped, after which the yarn itself will hold the sticks in place.
Step 2: Begin wrapping the Ojo de Dios.
Choose your first color of yarn, then tie it to the center of the wheel using a half knot at the back. Criss-cross the yarn across the center until the bare wood is covered, then begin to thread the yarn around the spokes. To do this, cross the yarn over a spoke–
–then wrap it under the spoke–
–then cross it over the same spoke again and pull it to the next stick, and repeat:
Step 3: Change colors.
To change yarn colors, tie off one color at the back of a spoke with a half knot, then trim the tail. I like to tie the next color over that knot with another half knot–
–then continue wrapping the yarn as before.
Step 4: Finish the Ojo de Dios.
There are a lot of pretty ways to finish an Ojo de Dios, but the simplest is just to tie off your last thread, then tie on a yarn loop for hanging.
If you’re helping younger children create these, consider having them glue a wooden bead to the end of each spoke to keep the yarn from coming loose. Yarn tassels and pompoms are also festive and authentic ways to finish these decorations.
Upgrade the hangers by crocheting or braiding the yarn, or incorporating beading or macrame.
Feel free to play with the design of your Ojo de Dios. If you use more than two sticks, you can experiment with wrapping the yarn in different configurations, skipping spokes or wrapping some colors behind other colors, etc. Depending on the number of spokes on your wheel, you can make a variety of geometric shapes with rotational symmetry.
I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love to create these simple, fun Ojo de Dios decorations, or who doesn’t find them charming. Kids, especially, love these, and making them is a terrific way to settle a group of them down for at least a few minutes.
Or you can just settle yourself on down with a fizzy drink and your favorite podcast, and have your own private summer camp afternoon!