How to Make Fake Coral for a Centerpiece

Coral grows in many shapes and colors.
Coral grows in many shapes and colors. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Coral makes a lovely alternative to flowers for a decorative centerpiece, particularly if you are throwing a beach- or sea-themed party. A wide variety of colors and shapes of coral are available, so you can find something to suit any design scheme. However, genuine coral can be prohibitively expensive. Get all the style without the cost by making your own fake coral at home -- not only is it quick and easy to do, but it also allows you to create exactly the look you need to complement the rest of your decor.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Sea sponges, manzanita branches or willow branches
  • Sandpaper (optional)
  • Spray paint
  • Paint tray
  • Secondary paint
  • Art sponge
  • Spray lacquer (optional)
  • Cylindrical glass vase or goldfish bowl
  • Sand
  • Seashells
  • Tropical flower blossoms
  • Saltwater taffy
  • Votive candles

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Cover your work area with newspaper to protect it from the paint. Lay a sea sponge on the paper.

Spray paint the sea sponge in a base color. For example, to create warm-colored or purple coral, begin with red spray paint; for green coral, begin with blue spray paint; for pale coral, begin with white spray paint.

Rotate the sea sponge and spray fresh surfaces until you have covered it thoroughly. Allow the sea sponge to dry.

Pour a secondary color of paint into a paint tray. Use orange to create bright, warm coral; use pale pink to create pink coral; use blue to create purple coral; use yellow to create green coral; use gray, cream or a pastel color to add texture to white or pale coral.

Use an art sponge to apply the paint to the sea sponge. Dip the sponge into the paint tray, dab off the excess paint onto the newspaper and press the paint unevenly onto the sea sponge. Apply this second color lightly or liberally depending on what shade you want to create.

Rotate the fake coral and sponge on the paint until you have covered all sides. Allow the paint to dry. Spray on a layer of lacquer if you want a shiny look, and let the lacquer dry.

Insert the fake coral Into a cylindrical glass vase or goldfish bowl. Pour sand into the vase around the base of the coral, holding it in place. Tuck seashells into the sand.

Place the vase or bowl in the center of a table. Scatter tropical flower blossoms and salt-water taffy pieces lightly around it, or evenly space three votive candles around the bottom of the glass.

Tips & Warnings

  • To create branch-like coral instead of thick, spongy coral, paint manzanita branches or willow branches instead of sea sponge. Sand them first with sandpaper, then spray and sponge them the same way.
  • Apply paints in a well-ventilated area.

References

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