Transforming Toys into Halloween Decorations
At Christmastime, I like to decorate with a lot of natural materials: glass, wood, metal, and things made of cardboard or paper. But for Halloween, I aim to please my inner child. And what does she want? TOYS. So for spooky season, and really, only spooky season, I embrace PLASTIC decorations. Now, I have a deal with myself that I will allow storage of one plastic tote bin for Halloween, plus my spooky dollhouse. With today's project, I have reached capacity, so my collection is pretty much complete!
How to transform a toy: consult your imagination. I knew I wanted a one of a kind piece to display on the opposite side of the room from my dollhouse (check out my spooky dollhouse here,) and I wanted the aesthetic to be somewhat similar to that: elegant, and kind of gothic. So that meant I would need to find something I could paint black! At my local thrift stores, I browsed the toy aisles and collected ideas. There were other types of buildings I could paint, like bakeries and shops, and I thought that would be fun. I also found some animals and particularly some cool dinosaurs. They could be painted black and have candy in their mouths. Then, I found a Cinderella carriage, and a horse! I could see it: enchanted pumpkin carriage. One more thrift trip yielded a second horse, and I formulated my plan.
For these types of toy transformations, and dollhouse renovations, I have found that gloss black spray paint is great for emphasizing the details and textures of the toys. The paint I used for this project is here.
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- Disney Cinderella twinkle lights pumpkin carriage & plastic horses (check ebay, thrift stores, yard sales)
- Painter's tape
- Gloss black spray paint
- Paper party napkins in Orange and Jack o Lantern print
- Satin Mod Podge, paintbrush
- Black enamel paint
- Black streamers
- Mini lights with battery pack
- Plastic vines
- Hot glue, glue gun
- Elmer's Glue-All
- Plastic Bone
I first needed to take care of the horses manes and tails so they would accept the paint. I brushed on some Elmer's glue, and used my fingers and paintbrush to press the hair against the horse's body, arranging the hair to have sort of a 'wet' look. The tails I just arranged into a flat ponytail, and shaped it to have a bit of a curve.
Next, I prepped the carriage for paint. This particular model of carriage has lights on the four corners that come on when you press the footsteps under the doors. I had a plan to wedge a bone or something else into this spot to keep the lights on for display. (This carriage has a battery compartment underneath.) So I masked-off the pumpkin with painter's tape, as well as the carriage lights. Everything else remaining would be getting the black paint treatment. I took off the doors and popped the seat out of the carriage to paint those black as well.
All of the components I laid out on some cardboard, and sprayed with the black paint. After each pass, I let the pieces dry, then turned them to cover all angles.
After the paint was dry, I removed all of the painter's tape, and set about covering the blue pumpkin. I used orange party napkins and satin mod podge to decoupage it. The napkins I peeled apart so I was just using the orange top layer of paper. After tearing it into strips and pieces, and painted them on in layers, crinkling it a little as I went to give the piece some texture. It took 2-3 layers to get the pumpkin to be uniformly orange, and opaque.
There were some details on the pumpkin that I painted by hand using enamel paint in black. Then, I decorated the doors and front emblem with some jack-o-lantern cut-outs applied with mod podge. I found these patterned napkins at Joann, and cut the emblems from that. By leaving both layers of the napkin, the image remains bright orange instead of translucent. To finish the look of the pumpkin, I rolled up some black streamers to make a stem, and glued that to the top with some faux leaves.
To display the piece I set up both horses with the carriage, and strung tiny lights to look sort of like reins. The battery pack I stuck inside the carriage, and ran the lights up to the front of the horses, looping them around their mouths and back to the pumpkin. The remainder I coiled up on top of the pumpkin around the stem.
To finish, I wrapped some black plastic vines that I got at Michaels around the light wires, and glued some to the top to add interest.
When I want to light the display, I reach inside the carriage, and turn on the string lights, and then I wedge the plastic bone into the footstep to turn on the carriage lights.