Give a Hoot!

13 Jul

We all know I have a Pinterest problem that is growing worse by the day. I spent part of last weekend crafting my dream boards for furniture and outdoor ideas. As I was languishing in my fantasy options on some of my favorite websites, I noticed a leitmotif emerging. Owls. Everywhere. Cute owls with big wise eyes. I remembered my Aunt Reenie making macramé (does anyone macramé anymore?) hanging owls when I was a child in the early 70s.  I even made a pinboard of retro owls you can check out here and mentioned these super cute owl coasters in this Show and Tell.

While the 70s are technically past the mid-century mark, owls showed up in the 60s and are a recognizable icon that fit with the mod and groovy sensibility of the times. I remember seeing owls everywhere and for the life of me, I have no idea why. What was with the owls? The other motifs that sprang up, doves (peace, man) and mushrooms (uhhh…it was the 60s, afterall), make a little more sense.  But the owl?

Let me tell you, when you start doing some virtual archaeology on the owl and its symbolism, you get taken to another dimension entirely. There are sites dedicated to the macramé owl, the pagan owl (a site on paganism and wicca which interestingly enough was hosting banner ads for Target and Visa),the owl in the occult,  The Bohemian Club symbol (a secret society of rich and powerful men, including that progressive and hip Richard Nixon) but none explaining the reason for the rise of the owl in mid-century decor.  There is even a pretty awesome blog dedicated to owls, giving away a hooked rug owl today…hurry hurry hurry!

What I did learn (and should have remembered) is the owl is the symbol of the Greek goddess Athena and as such signifies wisdom. And come to think of it, Windsor Park, my elementary school in Texas was part of what was called the ‘Athena program’ and had an owl as its symbol as well.  (Nothing like an owl for a mascot.  Good thing we didn’t have a football team.  That would have been intimidating for sure!) Native Americans take the wisdom thing even further and ascribe a level of foresight and sacred knowledge to the owl.

The owl craze even gave us that wonderful symbol of conservation launched on Earth Day 1970, Woodsy the Owl – ‘Give a hoot!  Don’t pollute!’

I found some awesome vintage owls during my Pinteresting on Etsy and Ebay:

But there are also some mid-century inspired versions at West Elm, Urban Outfitters and Etsy:

I love the abstract owl eyes on this rug runner from CB2:

And I just may need to get this owl USB stick to save all these posts on!

Owled out yet?  If you or anyone you know has any idea the origin of the mid-century owl craze, please please share!


9 Responses to “Give a Hoot!”

  1. sleepingdogtextile July 15, 2011 at 9:04 am #

    Being a loyal employee at Rice University during the 1960’s-1990’s, my mother had a HUGE owl collection. In fact, she used to have a HUGE ceramic owl. It was about 2 -3 feet tall! I think that is a bit much…Actually, that would really scare the bejeebers out the crows in the neighborhood!

    • Brandy July 15, 2011 at 12:00 pm #

      Did you by any chance know a woman named Shirley Winkler when you worked at Rice? She is my aunt.

  2. Terri July 14, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Ohhh, I want that owl lamp!! Do tell where U found that? Super cool. Obtw, there are owls in Pioneer park that WILL swoop down and bite & scratch you on the top of their head if U come close to their territory durong nesting season.

  3. Andy Pierce July 13, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    I was skeptical coming in to this post and then immediately convinced that you’re on to something. Those owls are DOPE!

    • Brandy July 13, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

      totally. i love them so much that i could totally go overboard.

  4. Ida July 13, 2011 at 4:43 pm #

    You know if its old, out of fashion and crafty, your mother-in-law does it. In fact made a macrame owl in the 70’s. Had a fairly large owl collection. They are adorable.

    • Brandy July 13, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

      yeah…but it’s so old-fashioned it’s hip again! they are really adorable. i need to measure my love for them.


  1. Weekend Show and Tell | mid-century MODERN LOVE - October 3, 2011

    […] (or moles according to my husband) and now an owl.  A horned owl to be exact. (And we know how much I love owls.) We discovered him the other day upon hearing the crows go absolutely nutso. They were all […]

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