The minute I laid eyes on West Elm’s white, lacquered nutcrackers, I was smitten.
Then I saw the price tag – $29 for the small version (currently on sale for $19.99!), and $69 for the oversized soldier. I quickly decided that was a little too spendy for me, so I earmarked these fellas for a DIY project.
This year, as we were unearthing our Christmas decorations from the attic, I spied two super-cute nutcrackers we’d found in a past year at Garden Ridge.
I liked their bright colors, but envisioning them in all-white had me at hello. Since I’d paid just $16 for the pair, I figured they were inexpensive enough for a little spray paint experiment.
I started by sanding the areas that had painted-on accents to get a nice, flat surface. Unfortunately for my soldier friends, that included their eyes. And yes, I felt like a total grinch sanding the eyeballs off of a pair of nutcrackers. Please don’t tell Santa.
Once my soldiers were smooth to the touch, I wiped each of them thoroughly with some liquid deglosser, in lieu of sanding them from head to toe, which I instantly deemed as way too much work.
Next up: spray paint, and lots of it. I used Rustoleum’s Gloss White – paint and primer all in one, thank you very much. Unfortunately, my little shortcut didn’t shave too much time off my project. Covering bright, primary colors apparently takes several coats, and cold temps here in Dallas had me doing a lot of sanding and repainting, due to some serious bubbling.
In case you’re taking on any spray painting projects of your own this winter, here are a few tips for cold-weather spray painting:
- Keep the item that’s getting a paint-over indoors until you’re ready to spray it.
- Keep your spray paint indoors, too – this is a must!
- Aim for a day that’s 50 degrees or warmer, and try to find a sunny spot.
- If you can’t wait until a warmer day, try spray painting in the garage (door open, of course). Odds are that your garage will be at least a little warmer than the great outdoors.
- If you experience bubbling or flaking, don’t panic. Let your item dry overnight, and then hit it with some high-grit sandpaper. Then re-read tip #3!
After my soldiers were ready for deployment (I couldn’t help myself there – sorry, folks), I decided they needed a spot front-and-center. Which meant our mantle got yet another makeover.
Gotta keep a close eye on things around here, because anything that isn’t too heavy for me to lift is in danger of relocation at least once a week. I added a 6-foot garland I picked up at Big Lots for $7, and I swapped out my Christmas cloche for 3 smaller vases full of glass ornaments. The final touch was a piece of jute, strung between our stocking holders, to showcase a few of our favorite holiday cards.
All told, my nutcrackers set me back a whopping $6 for spray paint. Compared to buying two of the smaller West Elm nutcrackers, this little DIY project saved me $52 (or $34, if you picking up a pair at the sale price!).
Here’s my last tip for today: if you have your heart set on making your own modern nutcrackers, try to find a pair with no hair. Because I’m pretty sure Santa doesn’t take nutcracker-scalping too lightly, either.