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Saturday 24 October 2020

DIY Studio Ghibli Soot Sprites

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you shop my links I will make a small commission but it won't cost you any more. 

Are you a fan of Studio Ghibli movies? We're big fans over here. We have a box set of Hayao Miyazaki movies and they get played on heavy rotation. 

My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are two of the kids' favorite Studio Ghibli movies and one thing they have in common (apart from being great stories) is Soot Sprites. These cute little black balls of soot appear in both of these movies and the kids think they're absolutely adorable. 

So, for Halloween, or really any time of year, we decided to make our very own Soot Sprites. They're super easy to create with just a few materials and they look adorable. I'll have some Studio Ghibli inspired costumes on the blog in the next few days, and these little Soot Sprites made the perfect addition to the costumes. Lola and Mathilde are dressed as Satsuke and Mei from Totoro below. 

Now, the Soot Sprites in My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away are slightly different. Totoro's Soot Sprites hide in corners and in the shadows in groups. They scurry away together as if picked up by the wind. They don't have legs, arms or personalities. They're just balls of soot with eyes. In Spirited Away, however, the Soot Sprites have legs and sometimes arms, and they use these to carry coal for Kamaji, the six armed man who runs the boiler room of the bath house. So we made two different types of Soot Sprites, some with legs and some without. They're pretty much the same with just one pipe cleaner for the difference. 

Here's how we made our Studio Ghibli Soot Sprites...

What you'll need (click the links to shop):

Black yarn

Pom pom maker (We used the 2.25" size)


Black pipe cleaners

Googly eyes (We used 6mm size)

Hot glue gun

The base of the Soot Sprites is a pom pom. We've been using these pom pom makes and they are the best! To make the pom pom simply open up the pom pom maker and start wrapping the yarn around it one side at a time. The pom pom maker comes with full instructions, but it's pretty self explanatory. You'll want to make the pom poms nice and thick, so I suggested doing multiple layers of yarn. You can see how thick I made ours below.

Once you have wrapped the yarn around both sides and you're happy with the thickness, close up the pom pom maker and cut the yarn from the ball. Then use scissors to cut around the outside of the pom pom, making sure you get through all of the layers. The pom pom maker has a groove in which you insert the scissors to make cutting the yarn easy. I find these Fiskars scissors much easier to use on pom poms than regular scissors. 

Once you've cut all the way around the pom pom cut a length of yarn to tie around the middle. I made this about 50cm long so I could use it to hang the Soot Sprites later. You can always cut it down if it's too long so much better to go with a longer piece than what you think you'll need. 

To tie the yarn around the pom pom, simply insert it into the groove where you cut and pull it tight. You'll want to make sure it is pulled as tight as possible to avoid the pom pom coming loose. Once it is pulled tight wrap it around a few times and tie a couple of knots. 

If you want to add legs to your Soot Sprite, take a black pipe cleaner and insert it in the same groove when you just tied the yarn. Skip this step and the next if you don't want to add legs. 

Pull both ends of the pipe cleaner tight directly down and give it a twist in the middle. This will hold it tight in the middle of the pom pom and will avoid it changing the pop pom's shape. Shape the legs to have a little bend and small feet at the bottom. 

Now open the pom pom maker on each side and you'll see the yarn spring into a ball shape. 

Pull the pom pom maker apart at the middle and give your pom pom a little fluff to shape it. Trim off any long pieces that are out of place. 

Now your Soot Sprite needs some eyes! Heat up your hot glue gun and when it's ready dab a little hot glue onto the back of each eye. Carefully place the eyes on the Soot Sprite. 

And you're done! Aren't they cute?

You can trim off the long length of yarn if you like, but I like leaving it on so we can move the Soot Sprites around. Alternatively you could tie fishing line around the Soot Sprites so you can hang them invisibly. 

More Studio Ghibli inspired fun to come so stay tuned!

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