When my son was knee-high to a grasshopper, he was dinosaur crazy. At the age of three, he dreamed of being a palaeontologist, and words like Pachycephalosaurus and Compsognathus rolled off his tongue easier than Mommy or Daddy. He’s all grown up and doing his honors in psychology but still loves those prehistoric creatures. He recently moved into an apartment, and I wanted to see if I could make him something as a housewarming gift that would fit his aesthetic décor style and his love of long-gone reptiles. Basically, dinosaur décor for grown-ups.
And I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, you can replace the figurines inside with special keepsakes, farm animals, or cute knick-knacks.
What you need
- Cheap plastic dinosaurs
- Sturdy cardboard box
- Texture paste or make your own
- Free box template
- Glue gun and glue sticks
- Sharp craft knife or scissors
- Masking tape
- Battery-operated fairy lights
- Black and gold acrylic paint
How to make dinosaur décor for grown-ups
Turning the dinosaurs into something more classy and grownup
This is a super easy décor idea and can be completed in a day. Sort through your stash of plastic dinosaurs and pick the ones that stand on their own. I chose a T-Rex (of course), a Triceratops, and some kind of raptor.
If your dinosaurs are made from a rubbery material, paint them with gesso first.
The gesso stops the spray paint from becoming tacky. Spray or paint the dinosaurs a matt black.
Don’t they look so much more grown up already?
Making the lightbox for the dinosaurs
While you wait for the paint to dry, cut out the cardboard lightbox template.
You may need to adjust the size a little if your dinosaurs are bigger or smaller. Mine are roughly 12 cm x 12 cm x 12 cm ( 5 6/8“ x 5 6/8″ x 5 6/8″).
There are three pieces:
- A top,
- A bottom,
- And a long “Side, back and side” piece.
Use a craft knife to score along the sides and fold.
Temporarily tape the top and bottom of the box up and check that the dinosaur fits.
If you’re going to add fairy lights, measure the back, including the thickness of the cardboard on the sides, and cut a second back piece.
Using the battery pack of the fairy lights as a guide, cut a slot out of the second back piece to house the battery pack.
Dismantle the box so it’s flat again, and tape off the sides of all the pieces.
It helps neaten them up, especially if you made a boo-boo cutting them 😉
Apply texture paste to one side of all the pieces, including the flattened-out “back and sides”.
While the paste is still wet, fold the “back and sides” piece as shown below. Use a piece of masking tape to keep the sides up while the paste dries.
It should hold its shape well, once the texture paste dries.
Hot glue all the pieces together to form a box.
Don’t worry if there are slight gaps between the pieces. Once we apply the texture paste to the outside of the box, they’re hardly noticeable.
Glue the cardboard “battery pack” backpiece on.
Apply texture paste to the outside of the box and leave it to dry completely.
Giving the lightboxes a grown-up touch
Time to turn those boxes into something classy 😉 Paint the inside of the box in a color of your choice. I used a beautiful metallic copper. Paint the outside of the box black for a high contrast, classy look.
Once the paint dries, make a small hole in the back of the box. We’ll thread the fairy lights through it in a minute.
Tape or glue the battery pack in place. To disguise the tape, you can paint it black. The tape makes it easy to remove when you need to replace the batteries.
Pop a pre-historic creature inside, and that’s it. The dinosaur décor for grown-ups is all done.
Switch the lights on and enjoy.
Doesn’t it look like they’re coming out of some volcanic portal?
I staged these on a shelf with one of my all-time favorite paintings.
I usually paint portraits that are as realistic as possible, but this young lady was an experiment in breaking the rules 😀
My hubby framed her in copper pipes that have tarnished over time. You can get the same look on copper using a few simple household ingredients.
I do hope my son enjoys his housewarming gift. What do you think? Would you add dinosaurs to your decor?
If you like the idea of making dinosaur décor that a grown-up will love, don’t forget to pin it for later.
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Want to see more out-of-the-box cardboard crafts and home decor ideas? Here are a few of our favorite tutorials.
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And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY, then maybe these beauties will appeal.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.