Ah, the animal print. Some style decades have embraced this wild pattern, others have turned up their noses. It’s pretty clear that these days designers are again embracing animal prints of all shapes and sizes. Today, you can find no shortage of cow hide rugs, zebra print fabrics, and leopard print fashion accessories. These stylish animal print items can cost more than you’d like to spend, though, so like any great DIY-er, I wanted to find a cheaper option by making it myself– painting it on a canvas drop cloth. I wanted to have some fun, too, with a DIY project. So here is a step-by-step guide to creating your own zebra print rug. But this isn’t any old zebra print — it’s a metallic gold zebra print!
Materials for the Zebra Print Rug Project:
- Painter’s Touch Flat Metallic Gold Paint
- 6 x 9 drop cloth (2)
- At least 1 quart of white base paint
- Polyurethane (optional)
- Paint brushes
- Rosin paper
- Permanent marker
- An iron
Draw out the shape of your zebra rug on the drop cloth. I used a cow hide rug that I already own to help guide the shape. If you don’t already have a cow hide rug, don’t worry! The basic shape isn’t too hard to copy.
First, I traced and then cut out the basic shape of only one side. This way, I could fold the cut side onto the uncut and un-traced side in order to get a symmetrical shape. If you want to just wing it and are okay with a shape that isn’t perfectly symmetrical (and let’s face it, many animal print rugs on the market aren’t perfectly symmetrical), then don’t be afraid to do that!
Using the first side as my guide, I first traced the shape with a permanent marker, then cut out the shape with scissors. Now, some slight fraying will occur when you cut this drop cloth, but it’s OK. I actually think this gives the rug the effect of a cow hide in that it has small fiber that soften the edges, like the hair on a hide would.
Once you have the shape cut out, reassess it. I decided that the “head” on the right, wasn’t quite the shape I wanted, nor were the “hind legs” on the left, so I went back and adjusted those spaces. I was happy with the sides and “legs” of the shape, so I kept them as is.
Once you have the shape like you want it, iron the drop cloth. This will make both painting the fabric and drawing your striped pattern easier.
Now you can start painting on your base color! I chose just a basic white that I already had, but know that the drop cloth absorbs a LOT of paint, so you will need at least 1 full quart to cover the entire the cloth. If necessary, do two coats in order to completely erase signs of the natural oatmeal color underneath. I used sort of a stippling technique, making quick downward jabs to get the paint down into the fibers of the cloth. Allow to dry completely.
Once your base coat is finally dry, you can begin drawing your zebra stripes!
Now, I bet this is the step that seems a little intimidating, but one of the things that makes the zebra print so perfect for this project is that it lends itself to a more organic feel. It’s really not as difficult as it may seem to draw. I even practiced a few times drawing a zebra print on a piece of construction paper, just to be sure I could tackle this step!
When I was ready to start my lines, I pulled up a few photos of a zebra rug on my computer and began to draw away. Use a pencil not a permanent marker for this step.
Just have fun with it — you’re really just drawing wavy lines!
Once your stripes are drawn, you’re ready to move on to painting the stripes. I chose metallic gold because I wanted to bring a little shot of glamour into my space. Feel free to go in any direction with this. A pink zebra would be an adorable addition to a little girl’s room!
If you’re using Painter’s Touch Metallic Gold, here are a few things I learned:
- Leave the paint can open for 30 minutes or so before painting. Because this paint is meant to be used on wood, it has a very thin consistency which enables it to spread out and leave a more glossy finish. Because you will be using this on cloth instead of wood, you want a bit of a thicker consistency so that it won’t bleed. I found that leaving the paint can open for a bit before painting helped it thicken up. Or transfer some of the paint into a smaller container, and let that container sit out for a bit.
- As the instructions mention on the can, do not brush the paint on too much. In other words, once you apply the paint to the canvas, and fill your entire stripe, don’t continue to brush it out, this will dull the sheen and give it a more brassy effect, rather than a true metallic gold.
- The instructions on the can suggest not to re-coat, but I did. I found that with the second coat, I was able to go back over some of my earlier stripes that were a bit darker and less metallic and give them a more golden sheen.
Below is a dried portion of the drop cloth — see how it has a very shiny, metallic finish? That’s what I wanted.
Now, if you are putting this rug in a high-traffic area and you are worried about scuffing, flaking, or general wear-and-tear, you are welcome to coat it in a polycrylic or polyurethane. I did not completely cover my rug in a poly because I found that when I brushed it onto one corner of my rug, it dulled the sheen a bit, reducing the reflecting quality of the gold. If that doesn’t bother you, then definitely proceed with a top coat.
Once your final coat is dried, give it a full day to cure. Then, experiment with it in your home! You may find that you like your animal print rug in an unexpected space!