October 17, 2012 6:00 am

DIY Animal Bookend

I have been dying to make a plastic animal bookend. The kids love books so we are always in need of bookends around here. I first saw this idea from Cassie over at Hi Sugarplum, and have since seen it done several different ways on Pinterest. (If you have done this yourself or have seen a favorite version online feel free to link it below!)

Here’s my cute little hippo before. Looking a little sad and worn out. :(

And after a little spray paint and a piece of scrap wood:

I used a high-gloss paint and unfortunately the paint bubbled up. I should have used a primer first, and definitely will next time if I make one again. I do love how it turned out though.

The funny thing is, my kids will still play with it like it’s a toy. In fact, my four-year old told me she liked it better blue, and could we spray paint the giraffe pink please?

Hmm. Not a bad idea…



  • Love this idea! I’m curious, though, if the animal figure and scrap wood were heavy enough to keep the books in place. Or did you add something to weight it down a bit?
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  • stephani

    I’m wondering the same thing. my kids would love these

  • Megan

    I am wondering the same thing as well. I need book ends but the ones I’ve found are $50! I wonder if putting some iron would help with the weight?

  • Anonymous

    I will use a brick =)

  • Natalie Wright

    Haha! Love the brick idea- I might have to try that! I used a hardwood scrap instead of a softwood and it seems to be sturdy enough to support books on it’s own. You will pay more for hardwood but all you need is a scrap. The adding iron is a great idea, but I am not sure how you would do that. Hmmm…. sounds like I need to try a few more ideas!

  • Matthew (Anonymous earlier)

    a brick, and a nail file to smooth out the seams where the plastic has fused together!

  • Fabulous idea, love it! I love the animal toy DIYs like the hooks and magnets (cut in half), but have yet to find a great source for the little plastic ones. Will keep this in mind, though!
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  • I have also seen the toys cut in half, but instead of magnets having them still be bookends. Looks the the animal is walking through the kids stories. I am about to try it myself and if it works out well I will post a link. :)

  • Bonnie

    Do they still make those rather cheap looking metal bookends – you know the “L” shaped ones? If they do you could glue the animal cut in half directly to the flat surface of the metal. Just a thought.

  • Melissa

    I’ve seen them done before using two of the plastic L-shaped picture frames that stand on their own. You cut the animal in half, glue half of him to each of the L-shaped picture frames, then spray paint the entire thing. I did a dark bronze with a toy lion. It looked really good! The lion looked like he was walking through the books.

  • Emily

    I was wondering if this was enough to keep books in place? Also, do you have any other suggestions to make the bookends weighted without having to worry about scratching up my nice wooden bookcase with a brick?

    • Natalie Wright

      Hey Emily! I thought that same thing about a brick- but if you put felt furniture pads on the bottom your bookcase should stay scratch free. I have also see rocks used as bookends, and they were painted neon too! Best of luck!

  • This morning I curated a “DIY Ceramic Animal Hall of Fame” collection (obviously, just my humble opinions) and this made the list! Obviously, not everything on the list is very “ceramic-y” but they are all adorable. Your little hippo is so cute, I couldn’t resist including him! The post is here: http://paintingsunny.com/2013/06/21/diy-ceramic-animal-hall-of-fame/

  • Wow they are so cute! I might make one for a present.

  • If you glue a strip of felt (4 inches?) to the bottom of your bookend so it sticks out towards the books, than the weight of the books will hold the bookend in place, regardless of how heavy the bookend is.

  • pansy

    great idea!

  • I love this idea but I can’t find any plastic animals that are large enough!! Any ideas of where I can buy them?!
    Please help!
    Thank you!!

  • How did you affix the hippo to the wood?

  • So awesome! My dad wants moose bookends for the cottage. I’m excited to try this now. Thanks for the post.
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  • tazmerelda

    I was wondering what size your hippo is? I bought some dinosaurs online to do this, but they’re teeny (just 6 inches in length, inc. tail) and finding it hard to source anything of the right size online…

    • Natalie Wright

      The hippo is about 4-5 inches long. Try Joann’s- they sell large packs of plastic animals that are the perfect size!

  • I’ve made some of these too!

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  • sarah

    this is so cute great idea, I’m just wondering how did you get the hippo to stick to the wood

    • Natalie Wright

      Hi Sarah! To get the hippo to stick to the wood, I just used a five minute epoxy glue. It has held up great!

  • Jaqueline

    Doesn’t the weight of the books get the hippo bookend out of place?

    • Natalie Wright

      Hi Jaqueline! The weight would depend on the type of wood and plastic animal. If you had a hollow animal and a light piece of wood like balsa, it would fall right over. I haven’t had any issues, but I am using kids books too, which tend to be lighter. I would suggest using a heavy piece of wood or even a rock or stone. Thanks for stopping by!

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