Faux Coral (“daux” coral… same difference.) How to make coral out of dough.

I love the look of summer decor using coral and shells.
View Image white-coral-lamp-on-lucite-base-522-443 jun_19_2133_white_coral_sea_urchin (1)

image credit                                                                                image credit                                                      image credit

I love the faux versions that Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel carry, but I am not willing to shell out that kind of dough.

Beth at Home Stories from A to Z showed us how to take faux coral from Wal-Mart’s pet section and spray paint it to look like Pottery Barn’s pricey version.  Here’s the problem.  I can’t find any of these cheesy plastic aquarium pieces that don’t have a mermaid, sunken ship or skull attached to them.  (And I am NOT going to pay $40 for something I need to break apart.)  Personally, I think Beth inspired so many people that the good stuff was snapped up in mere days.

So what’s a girl to do?   I made my own coral… out of dough.  What do you think?  I’m going to call it my Daux Coral  (geez I crack myself up.)

This is the basic recipe I used, but I decided to use what I had on hand.  In this case, an old (really old) bag of whole wheat flour, salt and water.
The dough actually looked pretty promising, because the whole wheat added texture.


I pinched off little pieces of the dough and rolled it into several different lengths then flattened them out a little, making sure they were kind of free-form and random shapes.

If they were longer pieces, I inserted a bamboo skewer to help with strength and stability.  DSCN4091

I also made sure I added texture using the end of the skewer to poke little dots and randomly “rough up” the dough.


(Yes, I know they look like a really bad appetizer at the moment… I heard enough from my kids already, thankuverymuch!)

Chicken wire was wadded up into a little ball to form the base of the “coral”


I tried letting all the pieces air-dry over night,  but they were still a little pliable, so I put them all on a cookie sheet and popped them into a 200 degree oven for a few hours.


I cut out a cardboard base and hot glued it to the chicken wire base.


Then it was just a matter of fitting these little puzzle pieces together.


I started on the bottom and worked my way toward the middle.


Once I got all of the pieces wedged into place, I tried to force extra hot glue into any gaps.  When I thought I had it all filled in pretty well, I took it outside and sprayed it with a satin white paint.


Is it perfect….? No.  Was it virtually free to make since I had all of the materials on hand…? Yes.

I think it looks pretty good, given the fact it is flour and salt masquerading as coral….

white coral, decor, summer,faux
I am not sure exactly where I want to keep it yet.

I think if you didn’t know any better, you might think it’s real…

coral, white, summer, faux

What do you think?

This idea had been bouncing around in my mind for a while, but a couple of notes:
This was definitely a “trial and error” kind of project.  If you try it, be prepared to try, try, try again while attempting to “construct” your coral.
I had to mess with it a lot to get it looking what I perceived to be natural looking.
The hot glue left some strings and drips that are not noticeable on a shelf but I think they would be under a cloche. (And I’m a little disappointed because I was making it with the idea of putting it under a cloche.)  I’ll do better next time.

The bottom line? It’s a Monet…. it looks great from a distance, but don’t get tooooo close, mkay?

Linking this project up here:
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Weekend Bloggy Reading


  1. says

    wow, your coral looks really good in a hand crafted sculptural way! and i just saw that wal-mart coral post, i live in australia and would have made my mom go to wal-mart and save some for when i move back

  2. says

    How on earth do you come up with these ideas? The rest of us would have spray painted over the mermaid and called it done.
    Not you. You grow your own coral pieces…

  3. says

    Once again…I am amazed at your talent! This looks awesome!! Perfect for a beachy summer display….you rock lady, just in case you forgot :)

  4. says

    This is one of the posts that keep me reading crafty blogs. Incredibly inventive, creative, nifty, funny and a bunch of other adjectives I don’t want to bore you with.
    Let’s just say you are my new heroine of crafty goodness.

  5. says

    I love this! you are a craft genius!

    By the way I would love to follow you on pinerest but your link appears to be broken. Also how do you get the follow me on pinterest on your blog? I would like to put it on mine too :)

  6. says

    O.M.G. I was looking at the Pottery Barn coral and thinking there is no way I am going to shell out $$$ for some silly faux coral, but I never in a million years thought I’d find a substitute for them! (I do really still want them!) I am so doing this. Thanks for sharing!

  7. says

    I am SO not patient enough to make my own coral. Very impressive! For others like me who are more into buying than making something like this, I’ve found decent prices on coral at HomeGoods, Kohl’s and Z Gallerie. Coral sculptures are my kryptonite!

  8. says

    okay so you totally rock! This is such a great idea and so clever. We just shared it on our Facebook Page. Thanks for always sharing your creativity with us at Inspiration Friday! You’re the bomb! 😉


  9. says

    Love your blog!! Its so cute!!! I am your newest follower!!! :) I would love it if you checked out my blog and followed me too!! :) I am so excited to start blogging and share my ideas on food, crafts, and mineral make-up. I will also be doing giveaways on stuff, like mineral make-up. So look out for it!

  10. says

    I love it!! Looks amazing!!! Such a smart and innovative way to do this. I have been looking at Walmart for the coral, too but couldn’t find it.


  11. says

    Wow, that looks amazing! I am duly impressed, you got mad skillz (yes, with a “z,” you are that good!) girl!

    I have an entire seashell and coral collection that is still packed away from my move of several years back because in this smaller apartment, there is no place to put it. This project of yours makes me want to bust out my collection!



  12. says

    Holy expensive looking coral, Vivienne, this is pure brilliance!! As you’ve already astutely noted, the cheesy fake coral at Walmart has been cleared out. This is such a PERFECT solution. And as an added bonus, this would occupy my three-year-old for a good half hour or more. SCORE!! Thanks again for sharing your genius with the rest of us.

    ~Nicole @ http://www.shabbybeachnest.com

  13. says

    Look at you, miss smarty pants!! Way to come up with a solution. Love what you came up with…it looks like the store bought stuff. :)

    Thank you for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party (and for linking back–I appreciate that!). :)

  14. says

    Looks fab! I’ve been wanting to get my hands on some coral but am too cheap to buy some (!!), thanks to your tutorial I can fake it with a few items in the cupboard! Thanks for the tutorial! 😀

  15. says

    Just a suggestion for the glue webs…….use your hair dryer on high (just be careful not to damage your project) and just wave it around where the webs are, not too close but you’ll see, it’s easy and ends the mess.
    I love the way your coral turned out….very creative of you!!
    Take care, VBg

  16. says

    Wow! I am absolutely amazed! This is brilliant and looks wonderful! I am pinning this for my todo list! I LOVE the look of coral, too, and I love that now I can make it myself thanks to your great tutorial! :) Thanks for following me and linking up! (I’m following you, as well:)) Have a wonderful week!
    Homemaker in Heels

  17. says

    Hi Vivienne, I featured your post on my top ten this week at Boogieboard Cottage. I loved it, thank you for linking it! Have a great week, Mary :O)

  18. says

    This is very cool! You did an impressive job of making it look much like the real thing… that seems tricky. Very fun idea and great results! Stopping by from Boogieboard Cottage :-} ~ osc

  19. says

    Hi Vivienne, {Geez! I can’t believe how many comments you get!} Thanks so much for adding this to my linky party. It’s so creative & ingenious that I CAN’T HELP but share it in my Fab Friday Favorites post tomorrow evening. Please feel free to grab an “I Was Featured” button!

    Warmly, Michelle

  20. says

    Vivienne, I am really impressed,this looks great.I was at PB the other day and just couldn’t spend the money either!!

    Art by Karena

    I have a New, very fashionable Giveaway from the Shabby Apple on my site! Come and enter!

  21. says

    Perfect… what a creativity you have Dear,,, I came here via WOW… and yours is a real WOW:) superb … I am going to archive it and may give it a try… not perfect as yours but a try hope you permit me… Thanks a lot for such a understandable tutorial …
    Visit me whenever you can

  22. says

    This is just AMAZING! I hadn’t clicked on this before it was featured because I just thought you were one of those crazy lucky people who happened to find something gorgeous on the beach and whatever, I live by a nuke plant and have crappy luck, but then I saw it was made of something (so it wasn’t just a PB knockoff) and had to check it out and I love it! Now I can be a lucky person! (Maybe I’ll even try to convince people I found it… send them out on nice little treasure hunts!) : )

  23. says

    I’m obsessed with your daux coral….super clever and just so damn cool. I saw the red stuff too…I love all things cheap and beachy…you are my new hero!

  24. says

    I really liked your faux coral! What is you tried mixing in some sand? To give it some texture? I don’t know how that would affect the structural ability of the dough, but maybe something to experiment with?

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