July 31, 2011

Do It Yourself Whimsical Starfish

In this blog post, I will show you how to make a starfish. I'm calling these "whimsical starfish" because they are not anatomically correct starfish. They are more like an interpretation of a starfish.
They look cute as a vase filler but a marine biologist
 would not approve of them.
How to Make Starfish
They came about more as an afterthought as I was making foam bases for my DIY coral (see post "Do It Yourself Coral" here)
with Great Stuff Foam. 

Once you start with that Great Stuff can, you might as well use the whole thing up 'cause it hardens in the nozzle after a little while
 and there is no getting the rest of the contents out later. 
This photo is so fuzzy 'cause the camera came out  into the hot sun after being in air conditioning.

I had all the bases I needed for my coral so I
squirted out some starfish shapes.
how to make starfish

They turned out better than I thought so I bought another can
($3 at WalMart for the red can) to make some more.
how to make starfish

Some tips:  follow all the safety directions on the can (especially about wearing gloves), squirt it out on wax paper (it sticks to whatever it touches), don't let kids or animals around it until it is dry, squirt it as slow as possible to maintain control over where it is going. You may be a better "foam artist"  than I am but my starfish were far from perfect.
"Draw" a starfish on the wax paper while pulling back on the nozzle that is included with the can. Great Stuff puffs up A LOT. 
how to make starfish

When it is dry to the touch and firm (mine was usually 1-2 hours), pull it off the wax paper.

If you have a build up of foam in the center of the starfish, cut the "hump back" off with a serrated knife.  If the starfish is not completely dry in the inside, wait until it is to start cutting.
You might not abuse your kitchen utensils like I do but my steak knives worked great for this.
I'm a pretty pathetic photographer...can't even get a lump of foam sitting on a table in focus.
You can also do "surgery" on unattractive parts you don't want on your starfish.  Do as little "surgery" as possible 'cause the paint does not stick to the exposed cut areas as well as the areas that have not been cut. 
This is what happens if you do not cut the humpback off the starfish after taking it off the wax paper. 

Real starfish have beautiful nubby backs usually. 
This is a real starfish from Hobby Lobby.  It costs $4.  

With these foam starfish, the best we can hope for is to mimick the underside of the starfish.
under side of starfish

To help the foam starfish look a little more real, cut a slit with a knife (not all the way through and not all the way to the middle) down each starfish leg before the foam fully cures (like within an hour of taking it off the wax paper).
how to make starfish
The starfish on the left shows you what the underside looks like when you take it off the wax paper.
The starfish on the right shows where to cut the slits to cause a more real-looking crease. 
I tried to get a picture of me doing the cutting but it looked naughty for some reason.

This will cause the legs sides to pull inward and make a crease.
 It also makes the starfish shrink somewhat. 
how to make starfish

Starfish come in lots of colors but I made mine white-ish.

I was trying to see if I could do a "batch" of  24 starfish
 for $5 so I bought the $1 can of flat white spray paint
 at WalMart.  The one can covered the starfish front and back. 
how to make starfish
This photo shows the "bad" side of the starfish ...you can see where the humpbacks have been cut off.

how to make starfish

When they are dry on one side, flip them over and paint the "good" side. Prior to painting, I had left some of the starfish out in the sun. 
 I didn't know then (but I do now) that the sun causes the foam to turn yellow.   You can tell the color difference on the inside of the starfish on the left in the photo above. You might like that effect but if you don't, be sure to not leave the starfish out in direct sun before you paint.

If you don't want to use spray paint, regular craft paint (around $1 per bottle) was also very easy to paint on the starfish. 
how to make starfish

So if you are staying with the 24 for $5, we have $1 left if you want to add texture to your starfish (optional). 

 For experimentation, I tried white "decorator sand" from Dollar Tree and yard sand (about $1/bag)  at Home Depot.  Just for fun, I had some crushed shells left over from the coral project.

  I was curious if the fancy shells could help the most pitiful starfish look prettier. As Zsa Zsa Gabor once said,
"Jewelry takes people's minds off your wrinkles".
how to make starfish

Paint the starfish with just a basic glue (that will dry clear) and immediately sprinkle the starfish with texture of choice.

The white sand was so finely ground that it almost was invisible and didn't make much texture on the starfish. 

The regular sand was coarser and had more color so I think it would be the better choice to spend the  final $1 in the budget on IF you want it to have some texture.

 The crushed shell "jewelry" did give the little starfish a different look.  Maybe the extra shine will take people's minds off her imperfections. 
how to make a starfish

This stone texture spray paint totally blows a $5 budget.
It is $8 per can and I did not see it at the craft stores where I love to use my coupons.  It was by far the  most effective and easiest way to get texture and color variation on the starfish.

 So, yes 24 starfish can be made for $5 or you can spend a little more if you want to.
how to make starfish

  One can was plenty to give some texture and coverage to the "good" side of the 24 starfish. Some spray paints "melt" regular foam but it did not  effect these Great Stuff starfish. 

I also had used this paint with success on some of my DIY coral and on the faux sandcastles  I made earlier in the summer.

Here are the starfish in action:
how to make starfish

Starfish in urn from sideview...

how to make starfish
...and from bird's eye view. 

These foam starfish do not have the wonderful beauty that a real starfish has but if you are needing starfish in bulk as a vase filler or party decoration, this might be an idea worth trying. 


  1. So Cute! Thanks for the clear instructions!

    Hope you will please drop by and enter my $50 Overstock.com Gift Card Giveaway!! If there are 500entries, the amount will increase the Gift Card to $100

  2. Great idea!!!! Love the use of the foam. You're so talented!! Think of all the cash you saved too by making them. It would of cost a bit for all those starfish. Thanks so much for sharing.


  3. It's a starfish invasion! I love these and also your other spray foam creations. Great idea and a really good tutorial too. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oh really cute! I wish I was crafty and could do things like that. That's really neat. Thanks for sharing!

    And thanks for stopping by my blog. :-) I love that video!

  5. I love your starfish! What a great idea. My kindergarten teacher friend does an ocean unit and these would be perfect to decorate the classroom with or possibly let the students paint or smear with glue and sprinkle sand!

  6. They are just adorable! I just love your foam starfish. And they look great with all of your other ocean critter creations.
    Marianne :)

  7. I love your adorable homemade starfish!!

    So nice to meet you!

    Kay Ellem

  8. That is awesome! I love it! I have a friend who is moving to the beach. I may have to make some of these for her as a going away gift! Great blog!

  9. You are amazing and so very patient with your projects. Those are very cool. Thanks for sharing with the newbie party.

  10. Cute! These look like a lot of fun to make. I would love it if you would stop by and link this post up to my crafty link party that I just started at Lines Across My Face.
    :) Rachel

  11. These are cute!

    Thanks so much for stopping by the Back Porch and telling me about the wax. I have the clear wax, but didn't order the dark. I am going to play with the clear wax using your idea.

  12. I'm loving this idea. So clever!! I have seen the ones made with dough..., but this is soooo easy.

  13. This is so smart, how clever! I *just* bought a starfish for a project over the weekend, it was $3. I only needed one, so that's not horrible... but if we do anymore beach themes, this definitely looks like the way to go! Thank you for sharing!!

    Happy to be your newest follower ~ Adrianne

  14. You coral project was a homerun and this starfish tute is a great sister to that one. Very clever, Miss Kat!
    Rikka J.
    Ricochet and Away!

  15. You are something and so creative! These are darling! I've never heard of this stuff and may have to go get some and do something! ;)
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  16. I love this idea, too! I was wondering if Maya would see these! Very cool project! ♥

  17. I am totally in love with your coral and your starfish. They are stunning. You did such a great job making them and your vignette is amazing. I also love that chest. Everything is so pretty.

    You asked about the book I had on the end table. Yes, it is one I get a ton of ideas out of. Thanks so much for joining TTT. Great inspiration. Hugs, Marty

  18. Your starfish look like a natural mixed in with the rests of your seascape beauties! very clever!

  19. I forgot to tell you the book title. It is Christi Carter's Art of Accessorizing. I got it on Amazon and they have used ones really inexpensively. I always buy the used ones. It has tons of inspiration and it also has fabulous tutorials all the way through it. Definitely a great book. Hugs, Marty

  20. WOW! Your starfish turned out amazing! I haven't seen any project like this out there and that is hard to say in the blog-o-sphere! I would love for you to link your project up at my Savvy HomeMade blog party at


    I am a new follower!

  21. Thank you for linking up your fabulous starfish at HomeSavvyAtoZ, Miss Kitty! :)

  22. Hi Gayle, These are so adorable! I love all your foam creations. Thanks for the tutorial.

  23. Hi lovely lady.
    You are so Amazing just Beautiful.
    I love all your starfish this will be my next home project sweet lady.
    I would like to thank you for your lovely comments on my new tablescape with all my carol..
    Im your newest follower on this great blog and I will come back..I hope you will follow me also.
    XXOO Diane

  24. wow..what a wonderful idea. Your display looks fabulous. I just love coral...you did great job. Thanks for stopping by at my place, would love to see you more...following you back...

  25. I sure wish I had seen your post yesterday when I went out and bought starfish! Super idea!! I would love for you to link up to "It's a Party" on Thursday!

  26. I really love this idea!! They turned out fabulous!!
    Thank you so much for linking them up to {nifty thrifty sunday} last week!
    You'll be featured tomorrow! ;) Come grab a button!

  27. What a cute idea! I really like the texturing on them too!

    Thanks for linking to "20 Below Thursday"! :)

  28. Hi, friend! You've got so much creativity and I'm admiring them all. Can you please share your creative posts at the Creative Bloggers' Party & Hop? Hope to see you there at the party :).

  29. hi i really really love your creativity.

  30. Pretty but would be easier to got to nautical gift shop and buy some.

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