The rebirth of a wooden Hippo

Back in the house-hunting days (which seems like an eternity away, although only eight weeks ago!) we stumbled across a garage sale. In truth, my finely tuned senses probably chose the house to view because it was next to a garage sale. At a glance my husband was hesitant ‘there’s nothing worth looking at in there’, which was like a red rag to a bull… the determination led me to my find.

There it was, my wooden (3 piece puzzle) hippo. Displayed on the table along side old kitchen utensils, items from the garage, and some homemade rum balls. 

It was calling my name. I knew straight away I could show it a new life, be the catalyst for its rebirth. I could see this project immediately.

Walking out, my husband asked me what I bought, he really shouldn’t have been surprised when I showed him a wooden hippo in my hand. 

This project has taken me a lot longer than expected, which can be blamed on the multitude of boxes I have had to pack between each stage of this rebirth (it has also dawned on me that I have spent 2.5 years bringing a lot of unnecessary ‘things‘ into our home). We are moving home in 4 days, and the fear of my half-transformed hippo getting packed into a box, and not given any love for another week or so, spurred me on the complete it before the removalists arrive.

So here is the finished result from life next to homemade rum  balls coated in cocnut to the Ritz Carlton – my Gilded Hippo:

My First step was to paint the hippo white all over. I didn’t like the white, so changed it to gold. I then used some of the very ornately patterned paper my sister had given me (golds matching perfectly – which is always a bonus!) to trace around each piece of the puzzle to cover the flat side. It was one of those challenging ‘spatial’ tests to make sure you were tracing the right side of the piece, on the right side of the patterned paper – this task did prod a rather dormant corner of my brain. Also tricky was making sure all the puzzle pieces were traced already connected (as closely as the pieces would sit when together) to make sure the patterned lined up – that was also fun when it came to cutting the pieces out, no room for error.

I then stuck the paper on to the flat side of the hippo with craft glue:

It looked a little unfinished. So I came up with the bright idea (for presentation and durability) to cover it with resin. It gives the slick, smooth finish you see on a surfboard. I proceeded to coat each puzzle piece with Craft Smart Liquid Gloss. It comes in two parts, resin and hardener. You simply mix equal parts of both liquids together, stir well, and then pour it over the paper (making sure you push it around to cover every piece). It then sets as hard and as smooth as glass in 24 hours. You can use this to create a smooth finish over the top of most materials (wood, fabric, paper, cardboard, metal)

So there you have it – my rags to riches Hippo transformation (before and after):


I will probably be a little quiet for the next week whilst I move our home… back soon with new inspiration from a coastal location bursting with quirkiness.


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