July 24, 2011

DIY Coral

The Spring and Summer Pottery Barn catalogs had beautiful faux coral for sale in them.  Even though PB's coral was not as  expensive as real coral, it is still more than I can afford. 

 In doing a little research on what coral actually looked like,
I realized that it has many forms and some of them look like 
things already made for me in the floral section of Hobby Lobby.

I was hoping that with a coating of a neutral color of paint
that the multi-colored floral items could start to look like coral. 

My hopes that a quick spritz of white spray paint would 
cover the colors on the florals were dashed as the color kept
 on bleeding through.

This purple stuff was the worst at just sucking up 
paint and still being purple.

The most interesting side of the dried mushrooms just would NOT take paint.  I finally gave up on this side of the mushroom and used the other side which did take paint wonderfully.

These plastic green spike-y things not only resisted regular spray paint but also specialty plastic paint (which was left over from another project).

Finally, after a spray coat of this and a brushed on coat of that, most of the elements got to looking close to the color I wanted. 
Real corals come in a wide variety of colors, but for this project, I just wanted kinda neutral colors.

To add some texture and interest, I splurged on a couple of cans of texture paint to give a final spritz if needed. ( I had discovered this worked well when I was trying to give a sand look to my Faux Sandcastles earlier this summer.)  Also, if needed, some pieces got painted with glue then sprinkled with a coat of real sand or crushed sea shells (from WalMart).

For the brain coral and bases for the other corals, I used "Great Stuff" foam in a can ($3 per can at paint department at Walmart).

I didn't realize this photo was so foggy.  The camera came out of the air-conditioned house into the heat and humidity that is an Alabama summer and the lens clouded up.   

Follow the directions on the can to "wear gloves" when you are using this foam.
  If it gets on your skin, you will be wearing the foam for a few days. 
 It also sticks to whatever it touches until it is dry so I squirted it out on wax paper that I
 could just peel off later.  Keep kids and animals away from it until it dries completely.

  The foam goes a  long way.  It puffs up a lot.  It is pretty hard to make very specific
 shapes with it.  I tried making some starfish with the foam but I had to label them 
"whimsical" due to the crazy shapes that they turned out to be. 

So after the painting, it was time to pair the florals 
with the foam bases.

The florals were attached to the foam globs with hot glue.
If necessary, they got another coat of paint.
For instance, the items below turned into...

...Spiny Coral.

Here are some more combos...
This is the side of the dried mushrooms that DID take paint.

Mushroom Coral

Persimmons before paint...

...after paint...

become Cavernous Star Coral.
A little of their original color is showing through but it makes it have just a slightly different color than the other items in the coral display which I like.

I don't know what this purple paint sucking item's official name is but it became...

 Sea Whip Coral

I think this is maybe thistle but it became...

Polyp Coral

Twigs and foam and paint became...

Branch Coral

Bamboo covered with tiny broken shells became...

...Pipe Organ Coral.

Baby acorns glued onto foam holding up a painted plastic fern becomes...

...barnacles on the base of Gorgonian Coral.

A blob of spray foam painted and dusted with sand becomes...

...Brain Coral.

Tiny foam balls on a foam base becomes...

...Tentacle Coral.
This ended up being so heavy, I had to put it on a different base to keep it from tipping over. 
Here is a picture of all the coral together in a display.
You can see more close-ups at this post.

This little arrangement of all the types of coral
 was made to fit under my new glass cloche. 

You can see more pictures of the coral in the cloche in this post.


  1. Your corals look incredible! What a neat idea!

  2. So creative and different! This is my type of project! I love the way you think!

  3. Wow! You did a great job! Your imagination just soared with this project...or um...sunk-being as it is underwater stuff! Love it-very creative job-xo Diana

  4. Wow you definetly earned the title of Miss Kopy Kat-this is fantastic. The one under the cloche is beautiful!

  5. Copied this to my favorites! I MUST do this!! Thanks for the insight and all of the "in-process" photos!

  6. Well well, you sure are the clever one, and patient one indeed. I love how this turned out. Thanks so much for sharing with my newbie party.

  7. Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing how you did this. It looks fantastic!

  8. Wow! I'd never know it wasn't the real thing. What a fun idea with that spray foam. Your mantel looks wonderful!!

  9. Wow...very creative!! Great job!
    Visiting from Debbie's Newbie Party.

  10. OMG, so awesome! I love this post. Thanks so much for taking the time to post all the photos. I'm going back to the other links to look at the rest of the pics right now.
    Rikka J.
    Ricochet and Away!

  11. These are brilliant! Plus I am such a fan of coral and seashells! Thanks for the tutorial!

    Hope you will please drop by and enter my $50 Overstock.com Gift Card Giveaway!! Hometalk has said if I get 500 entries, they will increase the Gift Card to $100.

  12. This has to be the most unique and creative thing I have ever seen! I could swear that some of these pieces are real coral. I hope you don't mind if I borrow some of these ideas.

  13. What a sweet idea. The foam ones look great. Hope you are surviving the heat wave. Now I know why you are dreaming of coral. I think a swim amongst it would be just the thing for all those high temps you guys are having in the States.

  14. This is brilliant. There are so many great ideas in this one post. If you have a moment, I would love for you to share this project on my Inspiration Board {link party}.
    Thank you!
    carolyn | homework

  15. hi Miss Kitty, You did a great job on the tutorial for coral. Your coral looks fabulous and rivals Pottery Barn. Love your cloche on the tabletop. Love the new look on the blog too.

    The French Hutch

  16. This was just brilliant! You soooo made a follower out of me! I like to think I can visualize things in an out of the box fashion, but I can see I have A LOT to learn! *winks* Vanna

  17. Man, you sure did your homework with this project! I learned more about coral than I knew, plus it all looks great! Love the display in the end!

  18. CONGRATULATIONS on being featured at Open House Party. Your display is amazing and so is your tutorial on how to make your coral. Today I'm visiting from Open House...........

    The French Hutch

  19. I'm totally knocked out! you're a genius!!

  20. That is amazing. I love all of it and you are way more patient than me. My real coral was cheaper than the fake at PB. Thanks for joining the party.

  21. So glad Sherrie featured you. I am a new follower, how creative you are!

  22. Hopped over from Sherry's blog. Wow, you really took on a big project. I can't believe how real they look. Very impressive!

  23. Hi Miss Kitty! Oh, I saw your lovely works over at Sherry's and just had to come and see. You are amazing - these pieces are beautiful!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia :)

  24. Wow, that's pretty darn cool! Love all the "coral" you found in Key West LOL! Great job ! You come up with the neatest things!

  25. Hi Miss Kitty...

    OMG...your faux coral has got to be the most awesome thing that I have ever seen!!! I would have never dreamed that you could create such real looking coral out of dried and plastic greenery and spray foam! I love, love, LOVE IT, my friend!!! Wow...I also love your table top vignette that you created with your faux coral...it's GORGEOUS!!! Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful coral vignette with us...and the super tutorial! I stand in awe...really!!!

    Well dear lady, I am coming over from Sherry's Open House party. I just had to meet you. I have added your delightful blog to my list of blog follows and really do look forward to all of you upcoming posts..as well as going back through your past posts! You have a beautiful home...I loved each and every room that Sherry showcased for the Open House party today! Thank you so much for sharing your lovely home with us...this was such a treat, my friend!

    Warmest summery wishes,
    Chari @Happy To Design

  26. This is fantastic! You did a great job on this. Love the way they turned out. I had to pin this! I saw you over at No Minimalist Here.

  27. You really did a lovely job with this display of corals.

  28. Brilliant! Love to see creativity like this. Thanks so much for sharing.

  29. i was amazed reading this post... love the idea :)

  30. Wow! You are amazing! I had a hard time seeing the corals until you got the paint on. Now I know what to look for at the craft store.

  31. I'm in awe! I love the shore (I'm originally from the East Coast)and beach decor. Fabulous! Thanks for stopping by blog and for the kind comments!


  32. so clever!! your faux coral looks fantastic! coincidentaly, i recently used chalk paint on some tree mushrooms that my hubby collected in the woods.
    happy weekend to you,

  33. I'm just amazed at how beautiful your corals are. The are so realistic, unlike the ones at PB.
    You did a fantastic job and I'm really impressed. Well done!

  34. Oh how FUN!! Great job on each one! I love how you displayed them with the cloche too :O)

    Hope you're having a fabulous week.

    Marie & Liz

  35. These turned out great, next time I do an event with a beachey theme I will have to try. You might try using Design Master spray paint sometime. It was created for the floral industry and will work on natural and fabric items that regular spray paints don't/won't cover.

  36. You did an amazing job creating faux coral! It looks so much like the real thing. Amazing what you can do with some paint, spray foam, hobby store greenery, and ingenuity :-)

  37. I never want to touch mushrooms in my backyard because I'm afraid that they are poisonous.


  38. Hi, I came over from "It's All Connected". I just love your coral project! It's so clever and pretty!


  39. I just came across this and it is BRILLIANT!!

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  42. Very well written story. It will be useful to everyone who utilizes it, as well as myself. Keep up the good work – i will definitely read more posts. ultra zoanthids

  43. So cute, and so convincing!


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