Carousel horses can be beautiful decorations for children’s rooms and parties, but buying one will set you back a cool grand or two. However, if you are a little crafty and up for a challenge, you can totally make one yourself – all you need is one of these plastic jumpy/rocking toys:
We were lucky as we were gifted one of these from a neighbor whose daughter had outgrown it. Ellie played on it a bit, but it was one of those things that seemed like a nicer idea than it actually was, as it took up such a huge space in her playroom, and after the initial excitement wore off, it just started gathering dust. So when a friend of mine started planning a carousel themed 1st birthday party for her adorable little girl, I was so excited to take this guy off his huge stand and refurbish him into a stunning carousel horse.
The first step was to take him apart and de-hair him. I dismantled his legs from his body, then managed to rip off his mane. Finally I cut off his tail so there was just a little nub left. Here he is prior to the hair removal process:
I recruited the assistance of my engineer husband to figure out how to mount him on a pole. I wish I could report first-hand on how that process went, but essentially I left him alone in the garage for an hour or so and when I came back it was successfully mounted. I wish you the same magical success with this step! He told me that under the horse there is a compartment for a round speaker (which played horse sounds) that he removed and then used a circle cutter (aka a large drill blade) to cut a hole in that area on the bottom and the top of the horse. He slid the pole through the hole in the horse, and then added a thick metal pin through the pole to hold the weight of the horse in that spot. And then he added copious amounts of glue at the top and the bottom openings to hold the horse tightly in place on the pole. Here is a close-up of the mounting area underneath – not pretty, but it gets the job done:
I used an umbrella base to mount the pole to get it ready for painting.
I got my horsey ready for spray painting by covering up his eyes with masking tape, as I wanted to keep the eyes the same (and I was worried if I had to paint the eyes myself, I might make them look super creepy). I gave him one layer of primer followed by two coatings of white paint. I used a satin paint and primer in one.
After the white coat had dried, I started with the accent colors. The color scheme for the party was light teal, pink and gold, so I used these colors to start painting the seat, the saddle and the reigns. I did two or three coatings of each color paint using regular acrylic craft paint.
I wanted to hide some of the ugly gap line between the body and the legs, as well as the holes where the jumpy foot stands and handle bars used to be, so I chose to hot glue silk flowers in those areas. I started with a few flowers and then just kept going to town until it felt sufficiently adorned to mask some of the lines and distract the eye from what remained.
I made the mane and the tail using white faux fur fabric which I rolled into a tube shape and tacked together. I simply glued the mane in place along the seam line with hot glue, and then I wrapped the tail around the small nub area of the former tail and glued it on. I added trim around the collar and gold rope for the reigns, and then added pearls and crystals in places for a little something extra. (Ignore the Christmas trees in some of the photos – that’s what you get for working on craft projects in December!).
The last step was to wind white ribbon around the pole and a pom pom at the top, and voila – the horsey was done and ready for prime time!
Ellie got first dibs at trying it out in our back yard:
To make the horse “safe” to hold a child’s weight, we added heavy rocks to the umbrella base (which I had covered with silk flowers to look pretty) and clamped the pole really tightly into the base. If I was planning on using this for a bunch of kids to jump up on I would have to come up with a more stable long-term solution, but this worked just fine for a few smaller kids with adult supervision. I transported the horse over to my friend’s house for the birthday party (it just about fit in the trunk of the car with the pole sticking up all the way to the windscreen!) and they used it in the entryway for the party.
We moved it to the garden later for some adorable photos with the cutest birthday girl!
I was really pleased with how this project worked out and my horsey friend is actually on display in my office now (and hopefully he gets to be reused at some point in the future). In total I probably spent around $50 bucks on this transformation, and I think it was worth every penny!