I was Plutonium Paint™’s brand ambassador. I was compensated and given product in exchange for promotion of the brand. All opinions are 100% my own!
When I signed on as Plutonium’s brand ambassador, I knew that for my first post I wanted to recreate my most popular spray paint project. I created my Faux Bronze Animal Head Bookends way back in 2011 for Dollar Store Week on So You Think You’re Crafty. I did not win.
Even though I didn’t win the competition, my bookends tutorial post was hugely popular and I got my first taste of “going viral.” I did kind of feel like I was living a lie though. As much as I loved the project, the animal head bookends weren’t holding up books on our bookshelves. Soon after finishing the project, the bookends got knocked off the shelf and broke. The same bookends that were getting pinned on Pinterest and featured on Apartment Therapy were at the bottom of our trash bin with the coffee grounds and dirty diapers.
But now I have a chance to redeem myself by making new sets of the dollar store toy bookends using fantastic Plutonium Paint™. Here we go!
When I originally posted this tutorial, I received quite a bit of feedback on how I could have done it better. (Ahh, the internet.) One commenter suggested that if I softened the acrylic frames in boiling water, I would be able to reform them into a 90 degree angle, so the bookends would sit flush against the books. So, I tried it.
There are lots of angles going on here, but none of them are 90 degrees. Fail.
I decided to just be satisfied with bookends that weren’t entirely square. If the angles are concerning to you, you can sub out cheap metal bookends for the acrylic frames. You can’t buy them at the dollar store, but you sometimes will find them at thrift shops.
While the dollar store does still carry the clear acrylic frames, their selection of plastic animal toys was disappointing. I had to settle for using this smaller-than-ideal brontosaurus and a hippo toy I already had (minus all his bling). To get started, carefully CAREFULLY cut the toy in half with a box cutter. Did I mention that you should be careful?
Next, mark off the correct angle of the frame onto the toy and trim them to match. You want to have as much toy-to-frame surface contact as possible for a strong glue bond.
I decided to make two sets of front and back bookends this time around. If you choose to only make animal HEAD bookends, then you only have to mark the angle on the front half of the toy. Save the rear ends for another project, like these magnets from Love and Renovations.
Apply a bead of strong glue around the cut edge of the toy. Press the toy firmly in place against the frame, making sure the animal’s feet are touching the ground.
Use painter’s tape to “clamp” the toys into place while the glue dries.
Follow the glue packaging’s instructions for proper dry time.
After the glue has dried and cured, you can get to spray painting. Instead of going for a faux bronze finish this time, I decided to update the project to match today’s trends. You will see fewer oil rubbed bronze metal accents today and far more matte white ceramics. Think Jonathon Adler here.
With other spray paint brands you would need to be very careful to avoid dripping or sagging paint when painting on the smooth acrylic frames. Plutonium goes on quickly and easily, with a reduced chance of messing up the finish. I chose to use Plutonium’s Polar, which is a true white paint with a matte finish.
I wanted the brontosaurus bookends to have a more kid-friendly vibe, so I gave them a coat of Plutonium’s Hot Sauce. It is a great true red with a matte finish.
Make sure you get all the nooks and crannies of the toy animal covered. Remember, Plutonium cans work upside down, so don’t worry about twisting into a pretzel to spray the belly of the beasts. Allow the paint to dry before handling the bookends.
Once dry, you can prop up some of your prettiest books with your charming new bookends! These bookends just make me smile.
See how smooth and even the Plutonium Paint™ dries! That creamy finish will have your friends believing the bookends really are made from ceramic instead of super cheap plastic.
The dinosaur bookends turned out wonderfully too, if I do say so myself. The smaller scale of the brontosaurus toy actually works pretty well with the smaller size of children’s books.
How great is the Hot Sauce color? It’s punchy, but not obnoxious. That’s hard to find in a red paint.
I feel so much better having remade a few sets of my animal bookends. If you make a set of your own, please message me to let me know how they turned out. I love seeing reader projects!