Thrift stores, resale shops, and garage sales: these places are prime treasure-hunting grounds for an artist! I love to collect odd trinkets and doodads for my projects. I found this small mounted unicorn head and decided to give it a colorful, one-of-a-kind makeover.

mounted unicorn head found in a thrift store


  • 5″ tall animal head or bust to be mounted; made of metal, plastic, ceramic, or wood
  • 7″ oval wooden plaque, 3/4″ thick
  • Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover Spray Paint, pink and glossy
  • acrylic paints: white, light magenta, teal, violet, sky blue, yellow
  • gold paint (I used Martha Stewart Living Metallic Glaze, which has since been discontinued, but this might work)
  • paint brushes: flat, round, and fine-tip
  • sawtooth hanger and nails
  • hammer
  • needle-nose pliers
  • sandpaper, both medium and fine grit
  • old rag
  • E6000 glue

a prepped wooden plaque, about to be painted

First, you need to prep your wood. Start by using the medium-grain sandpaper, going with the grain of the wood and around the edges. This will even out the rough surface. Use the fine-grit sandpaper next, and make sure it is smooth. You can check by running the palm of your hand along the surface. Use an old rag to dust the surface of the wood.

Next, paint the wood with white acrylic paint. It may take two or three coats to reach proper opacity.

start using the pink Rust-oleum paint
start spray-painting the unicorn head

Make sure that your animal head is clean of dirt and dust. In a well-ventilated area, apply a base coat of spray paint over the animal. I chose to use pink Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover Spray Paint. Let this layer dry for about an hour, then apply a second coat of paint. After it has completely dried, the unicorn will be ready to take layers of acrylic paint.

a glossy painted unicorn head, two shades of pink

Use your acrylic paint to make the entire horse light pink, except for the mane and the horn. It will take about three coats brushed on over the spray paint. Apply a few coats of yellow paint to the unicorn’s horn.

a closeup of the unicorn's eye

Add white to the eye area and let it dry. With a slow, careful hand, paint the iris of the eye and line it with violet paint, using your fine-tip brush. I also added a tiny teal heart, as a highlight to the eye. For a more controlled line, add a little water to the paint. After you’re doing with the eye, line the nostrils and the mouth with violet.

making a Victorian pattern on the wooden plaque

To make a pattern for the teal area, I folded a sheet of paper into four squares and drew 1/4 of a scalloped vintage design. Then I cut it out and opening it up — it’s like making a paper snowflake. Trace the design onto the center of the wood using a pencil. If you cannot make the design yourself, you can easily find an example online and trace that.

an oval wooden plaque with a teal design painted on it

Paint the inner area of the wood with a light teal paint. Apply at least two coats to make sure the coverage is even and opaque.

attaching a saw-tooth hanger to the back of a wooden plaque

After the teal has completely dried, you will attach the saw-tooth hanger. Turn the plaque over and measure the center of the top of the oval. Mark the center with a pencil. Using your needle-nose pliers, hold the small nails in place while you hammer the hanger to the wood.

using E600 glue to mount an animal bust

After attaching the hanger, turn back to the front of the wooden plaque. Because of the amount of weight, you will need to use quite a bit of E6000 glue to attach the unicorn head to the plaque. Add the glue to the back of the unicorn and firmly press it into place in the center of the plaque. Let the glue dry for at least three hours, preferably more.

the unicorn head mounted on a teal plaque, completed

Once the mounted unicorn head has been given enough time to dry, you can display your unicorn up on the wall. This is how mine turned out. I hope you enjoyed this fun little tutorial! If you happen to try it out, please show us a picture on Facebook or Twitter.