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Painted Plastic Animals: DIY Inspiration for All Sorts of Celebrations!

Updated on June 8, 2015
alifeofdesign profile image

Graham is a former magazine stylist with a passion for crafts. She writes for various magazines and blogs when she's not playing with glue.

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Peruse any one of your favorite home décor magazines or spend just a minute or two on the popular website Pinterest and you will, most likely, see lots of images like those above of little plastic animals that have been elevated from gaudy painted children's toys to gilded steal-the-show accents. Without doubt, it appears that painted plastic animals are the latest do-it-yourself craft craze and they are sweeping around the globe.

LivingGazette.com is an international website (shown in the images above) who painted tiny creatures gold and used them to adorn a side table, bring charm to a stack of books, turned a pig into a shiny bank and added a bit of prehistoric charm by making T-Rex a vase.

There are virtually dozens and dozens of delightful ways to use painted animals, beginning with candle holders.

With or without the small plastic candle holder insert, these tiny creatures serve a fun purpose.
With or without the small plastic candle holder insert, these tiny creatures serve a fun purpose. | Source

CANDLE HOLDERS

DIY candle holders are a great idea for a variety of celebrations involving any type of cake, cupcake or dessert. Anywhere that you can add a candle, consider using one of these! Regardless of the color you choose to paint your plastic animals placing these atop or around the birthday cake will add instant charm.

Once you've crafted your candle holders, which are easy to make and cost very little, you can reuse them, repaint them or repurpose them.

If your unable to locate the small plastic holders in which the candle is placed, simply drill a small hole on the top of each animal and insert the candle. With so many plastic animals available, it's easy to have a circus theme, a dinosaur theme or any number of animal themes to fit any occasion.

If you'd like to learn how to make these animal candle holders, jump on over to The Sweetest Occasion for an very easy tutorial.

Place card holders may be for special occasions in your home, but don't forget they can be note holders, as well.
Place card holders may be for special occasions in your home, but don't forget they can be note holders, as well. | Source

PLACECARD HOLDERS

Adding a place card to a table is a nice way of adding a personal touch. It can also serve as a gift to your guests when the meal has finished and you want your friends and family to have a memory of your time together.

Like the candle holders, there are a few ways that you could create your place card holder. By creating a horizontal cut where the animals mouth would be, a name card could be easily slipped in. Another way to make a place card holder is to drill a small hole on the back of the plastic animal and insert a twisted paperclip which can hold a name card.

If your not planning on hosting a dinner party anytime soon, making a few of these animals to use as note holders is an alternative. Perfect for the kitchen counter, or your child's bureau or perhaps place one near the staff meeting room to inform co-workers of daily events.

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JAR TOPPERS

More and more people are beginning to use mason jars or repurpose their pickle and jam jars. And why not, if you can have jars as cute as these. Paint the plastic animal and the jar lid. Glue the animal to the top of the lid and there you have it!

What Can You Use These Jars For?

 
Store pantry items
Make ready-to-make cake mixes
Use as a candy jar
Keep kids school supplies, like pencils and paperclips
Keep pet treats
Use instead of gift box
Store playdough
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HOME DECOR

These crafty little creatures don't need to have a purposed in order to make you smile. Randomly placed around your home is reason enough to make a few, but still there are so many ways to craft with them.

  • Insert a hook into the tops - for a tree ornament
  • Place one or two on a bookshelf - for visual interest
  • Fill one with sand - use as a paperweight
  • Glue several animals together and glue a wooden disk to the top animal - instant cake stand
  • Glue halves of animals to a store-bought shelf - use as a children's clothes hanger or a place to hang your necklaces
  • Glue half or three-questers of the animals onto shaped wooden disks found at Michael's - use to hang dish clothes in your kitchen or facial clothes in your kid's bathroom.
  • Glue large animals to wooden block and paint - makes a fun pair of bookends

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One of the delights of this simple craft...

is knowing that you can change your mind regarding color, correct 'mistakes' and be as creative and silly as you want to be. With so many different colors and paints available, you have so many wonderful possibilities.

Why Not Try:

  • metallic paints
  • copper or gold leaf
  • a matte finish
  • a high-gloss finish
  • a textured paint
  • cover in glitter
  • paint only the feet - or the tails
  • use a combination of paint designs
  • use paint and decoupage

A look at my BEFORE and AFTER...

Using a few plastic animals I found at Michael's, I painted them with a 24 karat spray paint and they sit perched on a bookshelf.
Using a few plastic animals I found at Michael's, I painted them with a 24 karat spray paint and they sit perched on a bookshelf. | Source
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PLANT or FLOWER HOLDERS

At my local flower shop they sell miniature cactus plants, air ferns and other tiny greens perfectly sized to fit into a medium or large plastic animal. An air fern is very well suited to this project.

I'm particularly fond of using these animals as flower vases. When you are looking to buy your plastic animals, remember to consider the very large plastic toys you can find at your local thrift shop. Although that huge plastic turkey appears gaudy to you now, it will be completely different painted in a metallic bronze color and filled with an autumnal bouquet. Don't overlook that large scuffed bunny at the next yard sale either. Painted in a soft pink, a matte white or a metallic gold, that bunny can turn into the Easter centerpiece that gets all the attention.

Paint them and glue a magnet to the cut side of each piece (the stronger the magnet, the more useful these will be to you).
Paint them and glue a magnet to the cut side of each piece (the stronger the magnet, the more useful these will be to you). | Source
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You can choose to purchase animal magnets in a variety of colors from The Original Animal Magnets. Find them in the etsy shop of the same name.
You can choose to purchase animal magnets in a variety of colors from The Original Animal Magnets. Find them in the etsy shop of the same name.

Just give one as a trinket.

Alone, these delightful little animals make a wonderful gift. Wrap a ribbon around one along with your note and bring a bit of joy to someone that you're thinking of.

Who wouldn't smile finding one of these treasures in their lunch box, their briefcase, their handbag or in the mailbox?

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Local Sources for Buying Plastic Animals

show route and directions
A markerMichael's - 86 D'Amante Drive, Concord, NH 03301 -
86 D'Amante Drive, Concord, NH 03301, USA
get directions

Michael's generally sell medium sized plastic animals in there dolor section. Smaller animals can be found toward the back of the store in the childre

B markerAubuchon Hardware - 80 South Main Street Concord, NH 03301 -
80 South Main Street, Concord, NH 03301, USA
get directions

Aubuchon Hardware generally sell far-related plastic animals. These are often of higher quality than Michael's.

Have you already painted a plastic animal?

See results

HAVE FUN!

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    • alifeofdesign profile image
      Author

      Graham Gifford 5 years ago from New Hamphire

      ...endless ideas using plastic animals - I LOVED working on these crafts!

    • bridalletter profile image

      Brenda Kyle 5 years ago from Blue Springs, Missouri, USA

      I have some that need paint, now I have a few better ideas. Lots of fun, thanks for sharing.

    • alifeofdesign profile image
      Author

      Graham Gifford 5 years ago from New Hamphire

      Hi Tina. I like to poke around at yard sales and typically you can find boxes of these old plastic toys. My guess is, you could find quite a few in Georgia (say at Scott Antique Market). I can't seem to make enough. They are so easy and I can use them for a variety of different gift ideas. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Tina Truelove 5 years ago

      I never thought of painting plastic animals as a craft idea, especially one so versatile. I especially like the jar toppers. Cute! I like the magnets too.

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