I’ve been loving decorating with deer themed things this Christmas, so I thought how perfect to actually use real deer antlers for a Christmas decoration too! Nope, hunters we are not, so we didn’t come by these antlers that way… But they are real, and here’s how I did get them and what I did to embellish them…
I actually found the mounted deer rack at a garage type barn sale!
Here’s what it looked like when I first bought it:
The antlers themselves are gorgeous though, darkened with age, (at least that’s what someone told me. Someone else told me they are mule deer antlers… didn’t know that on my own either…) But the fake wood backer board is not lovely nor was the red velvet.
On a trip to JoAnn Fabrics, I found a larger board, to add an additional layer to the deer antler mount, and these 3 fabrics:
Then it was time to put on my taxidermist hat… first time in my life for wearing that hat, that’s for sure! A few times, as I was taking the original antler mount apart, I did fight a little of the gross-out feelings when the cover was off and I was faced with this:
Ewwww… the skull part of the deer wasn’t as lovely as the antlers that’s for sure.
Well, back to the pretty things…
I dug through one of my bins of extra trims and tassels and found a few options that looked great with the fabrics.
So, once the original backer board was covered with the red paisley fabric, I added double layers of trim to that edge. After all, this is meant to be a Christmas decoration, so I felt totally comfortable in using heavy embellishments and patterns on it, and felt that it was totally in keeping with the Christmas ornament(ation) idea.
The houndstooth check fabric is for the small head covering part of the antlers.
It was a little tricky using the hot melt glue for this Styrofoam covering piece, I think the glue would have melted the styrofoam really easily… (there’s probably a better glue choice out there, but it wouldn’t have been fun to have to hold it in place as it dried either, so I’m not sure how they do it? Maybe some sort of spray adhesive or contact cement?)
Once the pieces were all covered, it was time to reassemble.
There were huge gaps on each side of the head covering showing part of the skull bone… Aha, that must have been why the red velvet was so folded and bunched around the antlers.
So I added more check under the styrofoam, gluing directly onto the skull, but, as you can see on the right antler of this picture where I haven’t added the trim around it, that didn’t look great either, because of the seams and patterns of the check not matching and how it needed to be folded… just really unprofessional looking. But I fortunately had just enough trim leftover from when I trimmed the edge of the red paisley board to fill in around the antlers and it looked pretty good.
After dry fitting the trim, and seeing it would work, I finally put hot glue around the back edge of the skull covering styrafoam form thing and glued it to the face of the backer board, covering the deer skull, well most of it. This foam covering isn’t to hold the antlers up or anything, so just a bit of hot glue is all it needed to hold it in place.
The trim around the antlers got more hot glue, and careful bending around the curve of the antler bases, but they fit and sure looked a lot prettier than without it.
To connect that last larger board to the red paisley board, I screwed together the two boards from the back…
Being sure to make pilot holes with the drill first, into both layers of wood.
Now it was time to mount the whole thing to the wall.
The rack with the 2 backer boards is fairly heavy, so it needed to be a sturdy mounting system, and I didn’t want it to gap away from the wall much. I found these Command temporary hooks (available here at The Home Depot) which I’ve used on the french doors of our former house, outside, and they really worked well. So I thought I’d try them for this. (They are rated for different weight capacity, so be sure to get the right ones for your project)
The hook sticks out quite a way from the wall, so I knew I’d need to use a D-Ring mounted on the top back of the antlers backer board.
That meant the Command hooks would be totally exposed on top of the antlers, all of the large white plastic hook would show a bit too well against our dark brown walls.
Since this is a Christmas decoration, I easily opted for ribbon to cover the hook up:
Florist bows are quite easy to make, click here to review the detailed instructions I drew out, showing you how to make a florist bow. (In that post, I show you the triple wreaths on our front door) For this deer antlers for Christmas hanging, I used the same plaid ribbon that I used on the front porch for the deer themed tree, the triple wreaths on the door, and the Victorian hanging lanterns…
So, here’s the finished project of the deer antlers for Christmas:
The trim around the gap by the antler base turned out to be an asset, if the check fabric covering the styrofoam would have covered it properly I wouldn’t have thought to have done it, so I’m glad it was a problem to be solved…
I have the Christmas antlers hung in the living room of our 100 year old house, which is the first room you enter from the front porch, so they are a focal point upon entering the house…
And they get noticed. It is maybe a kind of unique Christmas decoration. But I like unique.
I did joke with my 10 year old granddaughter, (who firmly doesn’t believe in Santa anymore, so don’t worry) that maybe I should put a tag under the deer antlers on the bottom board, you know how they do with trophy racks? Only this one could say something like: “‘Dasher’ R.I.P. Hit an airplane on Christmas eve“. I’m only joking!! Of course I wouldn’t do that! Or would I?? Sick Grandma, really, really sick!
Here’s the whole corner of the front stairway where the antlers are hung for Christmas.
It’s a Christmas collage with deer antlers and the tin angels and original nativity on the built in bench, but I think it somehow does all work together!
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