I will be honest, I am not really sure what I am doing in my house, decor-wise. I need some new ideas, so I often look at all the beautiful stuff at stores like Anthropologie and Pottery Barn. Their stuff is of course, adorable and awesome, but I can’t bring myself to spend that kind of money on decor. When I stumbled on this adorable whale book end set at Anthropologie, I fell in love, but knew I would never spend $70 on book ends. I decided to try and make them myself. 

These whale bookends ended up being less of a knock-off and more of a “creative interpretation”. But I still like how they turned out. 
 

These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}


Plus, it only cost me $4, a far cry from $70!

I ended up using a simple salt dough for these book ends. I considered polymer clay, but the amount needed for this project would get a bit expensive. The salt dough was fine (and dirt cheap) but it dried out quickly, and for someone without much sculpting talent, it was a lot of pressure! The “texture” that my finished whale has is just the cracking of the dough as I tried to keep molding it while it dried out; I don’t hate it, but you should definitely use a different clay recipe if you prefer the smoothness that the Anthro-version has. 

Here is my method: 

{Make sure to work on a non-stick surface like parchment paper. The dough can stick to the your surface and you may have to squish it a bit out of shape as you try to pry it up (not that I did that or anything)}.

I started on the head; because a sperm whale’s head is square-ish, I started with a rectangle shape and rounded the top corners. 

 

These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy} 

 

 

Next, I made the mouth by using a butter knife to indent the dough. 

 

 These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

 

 I made the eye by squishing a little ball into the side of the head. I also ended up cutting off the end. I thought the ratio of length to height was a bit off, plus I wanted a nice, clean edge. 

 

 These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

 

 

The tail, which I thought would be the easy part, proved to be a bit tricky. I tried several times to get the tail correct. The salt dough ended up being problematic because it is a heavy, dense dough, but not stiff enough to hold its own weight. So after several attempts, I decided it was much easier to made the end of the body and the tail fin separately. 

 These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

 

 After the pieces were (pretty much) the way I wanted them, I heated the oven to 200º and baked the pieces for several hours. Because the pieces are rather dense, they seemed to never completely dry. The paint did not seem to be affected, so don’t stress if you feel like your dough isn’t 100% dry in the middle. 

I then “welded” the tail piece onto the body end with lots of hot glue. 

 These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

 

 Next,  I molded some unused dough around the glue to cover it up. I wasn’t able to achieve the same texture, darn it!

 These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}
I put it back in the oven for a hour or so to dry the patched tail. 

Then, I added some paint. I did two coats of gray acrylic paint over the whole thing, and then carefully painted the eye over the gray. Start with the white and paint the half the circle. When that is dry, paint a tiny black half circle for the pupil. 

 

These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}
 

They might have been fine like this, but when everything was said and done, they weren’t as big as I have envisioned them to be. I added a bit more stability by gluing the pieces onto 5 x 5 wooden plaques. 

I painted them white, put a very thin layer of stain over the white, then sanded them to make them look a bit old. 

These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

Then to finish, I used wood glue to attach the whale pieces to the plaques. 

These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

All in all, my book ends ended up okay! Halfway through, I was sure that I was working on a huge #craftfail…

 These Anthropologie-Inspired Whale Bookends are a much cheaper option, and fun to make! {Tutorial by Whistle and Ivy}

 

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Until next time :)

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Originally posted at PinkWhen

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