Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Homemade Photo Prop for a Shark Birthday Party

This was the first project I started making for Logan's shark-themed birthday party, and once I saw this fellow swimming on my kitchen floor, I knew that I was track for a pretty "jawsome" birthday for my favorite little boy! (This was good news because scrounging up the appropriate amount of cardboard had been somewhat challenging, so once again, it pays to plan ahead, folks.) I found inspiration for this project here, but as always, I tried to figure out how to do it myself for as cheaply as possible. Note: While this project cost me next to nothing, (Proof positive: the best things in life are free!) it did take about 3 hours to complete, and that actually shows that I am getting faster at these cardboard constructions as I make more and more of them.


  • corrugated cardboard
  • scissors
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • tape: clear packaging, masking, Scotch
  • Sharpies: black and red
  • paint brushes
  • white acrylic paint
  • gray primer
  • two white plastic bottle caps
  • hot glue gun
  • 2 blue plastic table covers

  1. First, I cut apart two of the largest boxes I could find to produce flat sections to work with.
  2. Then, I laid them out and found the center with my ruler and pencil. I sketched out the shark's head, followed by the fins and tail section.
  3. Next, I cut out the different parts of the shark's body, using scissors. I also used my scissors to cut out the inner part of the open shark's mouth.
  4. I taped each section to the next, using lots of clear packaging tape. This was on the back (printed side) of each box piece, meaning that the front of my shark was plain brown cardboard.
  5. I laid a vinyl tablecloth (used only for crafts) on my dining table and then painted the shark using gray primer that we already had on hand. A large foam paint brush worked very well for this, and since I got such great coverage, I only applied one coat. (This right here saved me lots of time. Normally when I make this sort of party prop, I need to do at minimum, two coats of acrylic paint.) I let this dry completely before moving on.
  6. For the teeth, I used white acrylic paint and a smaller paint brush.
  7. Afterward, I used a red Sharpie marker to draw in the gum line around the teeth. I followed that with a black Sharpie marker, which I also used for all of the outlining to make the shark look more finished.
  8. The finishing touches were the eyes. I took two white bottle caps from apple juice containers and used the black Sharpie to make slit-like pupils. Then, I hot-glued each one to the top of the shark's head.
  9. For the background, I used two blue plastic table covers from Dollar Tree. (So if you're keeping track, this project cost me a total of $2.12.) I folded them both in half and then I used lots of rolled masking tape to adhere the shark on top of the two table covers, which were held together with Scotch tape. After it was taped down, I cut away the inside of the shark's mouth so that there was no blue backdrop in that part. 
  10. Displaying the photo booth was the hardest part to figure out. Luckily, Brett was able to help with the logistics. After trying several types of tape, we settled on clear packaging tape (and plenty of it!) to secure the layers of plastic table cover to the top of our mantel. (Failed attempts included Scotch tape, blue painter's tape from Dollar Tree, and masking tape.) I added some red table cover (left over from a previous party) to the inside of the mouth area by taping it to the fake fire place with Scotch tape.
  11. The kids, and some brave adults, too, were then able to stand or kneel behind the backdrop, put their faces inside the shark's mouth, and let me take pictures (which were for the thank you cards). It stayed up for many days before I decided to take it down, and I think it was picture perfect.
{Say, "Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"}

{You can't say I never post photos of myself!}

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