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Create Inexpensive Art for Your Home With Used Duck Decoys and Go Green!

Updated on January 26, 2012

Creative Ideas

If you are like most of us, you are constantly looking for ways to make your home nicer with the least amount of cost. I always loved the look of having carved geese and ducks sitting around but so often the price for such art was too much for my budget. Recently, my husband saw old, duck decoys on sale at an auction and purchased some for me. He also ordered some on ebay inexpensively. With a little imagination and some acrylics of various sorts I was able to create some nice pieces that look lovely in our home. I am not a professional artist so I know that if I can do it, you can too!

Used Duck Decoy

Decoys arrive looking mostly like this one.
Decoys arrive looking mostly like this one.

Getting Started

I found that it was hard to paint directly onto the plastic without a primer. First, it was hard to see the duck as anything but black. I found my mind fighting between what the duck actually looked like and what I wanted to imagine it could be. Looking at images of ducks on line is very helpful.

Secondly, it was hard to get the acrylic paint to adhere to the plastic without smearing. I found that a spray on paint primer for plastics works well. It's inexpensive and easy to apply. I painted all my ducks white to give myself a clean canvas upon which to create. I highly suggest priming your decoys first.

Next, you may wish to use an electric saw to get rid of the balancing mechanism on the bottom of the ducks. My husband easily sawed these off for me.

Use a White Primer

Priming your plastic decoys will give you a clean slate to work on and give the paint something to grab on to.
Priming your plastic decoys will give you a clean slate to work on and give the paint something to grab on to.

Choosing Paints

Its good to have a wide variety of acrylic paints (these bottles can cost as little as .79 cents) including some metallic blues, greens, blacks and purples. A few golds are helpful too. An important acrylic to own is one called "pearlizing white". All of these used on their own can be overwhelming but mixed in with your regular acrylic can give a nice sheen to your duck. For lighter colors like white and grays, I mix in pearlizing white to avoid an excessive dry look when the paint drys. Remember ducks have a lot of oil on their feathers so a dry look won't appear very natural. Also, their blue/green highlights have an understated metallic sheen so mixing a metallic with a regular acrylic can produce the appropriate sheen.

Applying a black under-coating helps to keep the metallic paint from becoming translucent.
Applying a black under-coating helps to keep the metallic paint from becoming translucent.
Choose the type of design you want and simplify it into areas and shades.  Take your time with it - laying it aside and coming back to it as your mind gives you the correct areas to paint to create the result you desire.
Choose the type of design you want and simplify it into areas and shades. Take your time with it - laying it aside and coming back to it as your mind gives you the correct areas to paint to create the result you desire.
There are many styles of ducks to choose from and you may find that you wish to mix styles to create your own unique look.
There are many styles of ducks to choose from and you may find that you wish to mix styles to create your own unique look.

Create a Stunning Head

Male ducks often have stunning colors on their heads. I again encourage you to lay a black foundation first and then apply several different mixes of blue and green metallics with regular dark blues and greens, blending the blues and greens from one into the other to create a realistic look.

There are many styles to choose from to create!

The already female imprinted feathers made this hard to create into a male duck.  But I choose to create my own design and incorporate the male colors anyways.
The already female imprinted feathers made this hard to create into a male duck. But I choose to create my own design and incorporate the male colors anyways.
This decoy was the size of the ducks but the neck and head reminded me more of a goose so I choose to use a pattern indicative of a wild goose.
This decoy was the size of the ducks but the neck and head reminded me more of a goose so I choose to use a pattern indicative of a wild goose.

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    • martharohrbaugh profile image
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      Martha Rohrbaugh 5 years ago from Owosso, MI

      Thanks!

    • Brainy Bunny profile image

      Brainy Bunny 5 years ago from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

      This is not something that would ordinarily appeal to me, but I think you've made something quite lovely here. Keep up the good work!