Two things coincided recently to make me take up the time-honored practice of plastic animal taxidermy: 1) A friend gave me a plastic cow hindquarters magnet, and, 2) I saw a really amusing photo of some kelly green plastic animal heads mounted in a frame.
I found these things to be both “funny” and “cheerful.” My family found them to be both “creepy” and “weird.”
As it turns out, I am not alone in enjoying fine plastic animals crafts (thank goodness):
- Plastic Fantastic
- Animal Butt Refrigerator Magnets
- DIY Animal Butt Magnets
- Plastic Toy Animal Crafts
- Miniature Mounted Menagerie
I had some metallic spray paint on hand, so I went out and bought a package of cheap tiny plastic animals, and a couple of frames. One of the frames was from a secondhand store, only a buck, and with a quick pass with a Magic Eraser became clean and bright white. I made two projects, one as a gift for a friend and one for hanging in my entry-way.
The hardest part of the project, as some of the links above mention, is cutting the animals in half. Be very careful and keep your hands and fingers out of the way. I couldn’t find our coping saw, which I had thought might work to do the job, so I ended up using a sharp butcher knife, and was just slow and careful. I cut the animals on a hard wooden surface, scoring the animal bodies first so that the knife would have a place to start, and then used a small pillow to cover the knife and animal when I had to really press down. I kept one hand firmly on the handle and the other hand on the pillow, focusing on keeping the blade straight and upright, while gently rocking it back and forth while pressing down. Again, I kept my fingers out of the way of the blade.
After I was done I read a comment on one of the linked posts above, which that suggested putting the animals in hot water to try to soften the plastic a bit before cutting. I don’t know if that works, because I was already finished when I read that advice, but it sounds like it might help.
Once I had the animals all ready to go, I donned a respirator and safety goggles and took the animals outside where I spray painted them. I kept the spray paint can moving and just did several quick, light passes, until the plastic fauna were covered completely. There weren’t any drips, and the key to that was several quick, light mists of paint. I kept turning the board that the animals rested upon in order to be able to get them covered from various angles.
I was slightly disappointed with the end result in terms of color… they look metallic, but not a shiny gold, more of a dull brass. It is fine, of course, just not exactly what I had envisioned.
I left them to dry for 24 hours or so, until they didn’t feel at all sticky to the touch.
I took some heavy white card stock and cut it to fit the two frames. I put in the mats, with the card stock directly behind, and put the glass fronts behind the card stock. It filled up the frames perfectly and provided a hard base for the card stock to rest against when I glued the animals to it (thanks to the Miniature Mounted Menagerie post for this tip.)
I used Weld Bond to glue the animals to the card stock, since I had some on hand and it said it worked with plastic, paper, and other materials. I let it dry for 24 hours and was done!
I made the smaller frame with the head and tail of the North American Beaver (Castor canadensis) as the friend’s gift. And used a bunch of the rest of the heads for the frame to hang in my home. I am still pondering whether to make magnets of the hind ends, or to make another framed piece. And where to hang it if I do? The bathroom?