Introduction: Fantastic Beasts (nearly) Life-sized Kelpie From Recycled Materials

About: I am a working single mom. Creativity and problem solving are stress relievers for me and so I often have projects were I make something from scratch.

Science is creative problem-solving and sometimes requires looking at a challenge from different directions in order to find the solution. That is why art is such an important part of STEAM. This project uses creativity to create a unique creature out of materials found around the house. It also is a model to students of a creative way to reuse items that are normally thrown away.

I tend to go a bit overboard (ahem) for my kid’s birthday parties because I enjoy being creative. A couple of years ago, the theme for my daughter’s party was Fantastic Beasts (the previous year it was Harry Potter, but that's another story), I loved the scene in the movie when the Kelpie was jumping out of the water with Newt Scamander on its back and decided to make a near life-sized Kelpie to hang from the ceiling.

I scoured the internet for instructions on how to make a Kelpie (or even find a decent picture to study), with no luck. Not to be deterred, I paused the movie at that scene and studied the Kelpie. The Kelpie’s head was shaped like a horse and its body seemed to be made of flowing kelp.

Challenge Accepted!


  • Brown craft/packing paper - saved from Amazon packages
  • Packing materials (bubble wrap from packages)
  • Spray paint - I used 2 shades of green and a gold
  • Clothes pins
  • Glue - I recommend Beacon’s 3-in-1 glue or a glue gun
  • Floral wire and fishing line (for hanging the Kelpie from the ceiling)

Step 1: Step 1: Shaping the Head and Body

During my preparations for the Harry Potter party, I found the brown packing paper that comes in some Amazon shipments a useful material. The paper is the right thickness for projects and comes pre-wrinkled, giving wonderful a texture to projects.

Take a piece of the brown packing paper approximately 4’ long and fold it in half. Loosely filled it with bubble wrap to ensure it will keep its shape. Glue the side seams, shaping eyes and nostrils as you go.

Follow the same technique for the body, starting with two pieces of paper at least 6'-7' long. As you can see from the last photo, I did not have two pieces of paper the correct length, so for the belly side I overlapped two pieces (this was covered up later).

Glue the sides. Gather and glue the top edge for the neck. Repeat for the narrowing of the tail. (Note: This will create the top of the tail, not the full tail length.)

Step 2: Step 2: Attach the Head to the Body

Insert the neck into the back of the head and attach. (I used packing tape and glue.) Next cut into the edges of head piece to make a kelp fringe (see second picture), At this stage the head is taking shape, but the body looks more like that of a manatee.

Step 3: Step 3: Paint the Kelpie

Tear additional strips of paper to simulate kelp. The strips should not be uniform in length or width.

Use spray paint to apply a base coat of green to the Kelpie body and the paper strips, leaving some areas uncovered.

Add a second shade of green (if desired) and gold for highlights to give the appearance of under water.

Step 4: Step 4: Finishing Touches

Attach some of the painted strips to the inside of the top of the tail and glue. (I used clothes pins to hold the paper in place until the glue dried.) Cut the tail top so that it also looks like shorter strips of kelp.

Glue additional strips over the body to simulate the kelp (see pictures).

Finally, attach hangers to the Kelpie. I used floral wire to create two rings (one at the neck and the other about halfway down the body). Fishing line was then used to hang the Kelpie from the ceiling.

Back to Basics Contest

Participated in the
Back to Basics Contest