Introduction: Let’s Make a Piggy Bank

About: When things don't go the way I want, I still hear my father say: ‘There is no such word as can’t.’ The things I make, I make thanks to him. He taught me how to bake and paint and everything in between, I got h…

In a time when everything is becoming more and more expensive, and saving is not or hardly possible anymore, an old-fashioned piggy bank is a godsend. Many nickels, dimes and quarters that have been saved, form some cash to be able to do something extra.

This piggy bank is a real one and has no secret opening to get your money out. You can only shake it, hoping that some coins might fall out. Or smash it rigorously with a hammer.

I made this piggy bank from a calabash and various scraps I had. The cost was $0.00. For example, I used wrapping paper that was left over from an Instructable I made in 2017: 'One removal and a lot of beer makes a cupboard'. The cupboard is still in use today, proving once again that material you normally throw away can still serve well and is sturdier than you might think.

Now I can imagine that a calabash from the calabash tree (Crescentia Cujete) is not available to everyone. In that case a hard plastic or paper ball of +/- 15 cm is sufficient, such as an old large Christmas bauble. I also noted the purpose of the materials to make it easier to come up with a replacement if you don't have a listed one.


Piggy bank:

1 Calabash (from the calabash tree) for the body

1 Piece of thick electrical wire +/- 15 cm for the tail

1 Empty roll of adhesive tape for the nose

1 Matching cap for the nose roll

2 Buttons +/- 12mm (black) for the eyes

2 Elongated wooden beads of +/- 4 cm for the legs

3 Pieces of leather cord or paracord 2/3 mm thick +/- 70 cm long for the tail

1 Piece of cord +/- 60 cm and 4 mm thick for the snout

1 Piece of leather of 14x14 cm for the ears

Piece of paper or (adhesive) label and black felt-tip pen for background eyes, nostrils and mouth

Option flat round, e.g. bead to draw nostrils

Wrapping paper or paper that you find in shoe boxes. The roses on the pig come from this kind of paper.

Super glue

Contact glue

White glue




Saw (I find a hacksaw easy for this myself)

Dremel with drills and grinding disc

Safety glasses


Measuring tape

Paper clamps 1 large / 1 small

Option: spray varnish (fast drying) and masking tape



2 Small calabashes (from the calabash tree)

2 Pieces of iron wire of +/- 10 cm, 22 gauge for the tail

2 Cords of 15 cm 2 mm thick for the snouts

2 Beads flat disc shape of 0.3mm thick ø 0.6 mm for the nose

2 Beads flat disc shape of 0.2mm thick ø 0.4 mm for the nose

4 Small spacers

4 Small glass beads (black)

4 Pieces of double glued leather (leftovers of large pig's ears)

Dremel with drill

Acrylic paint (in color of the piglet) I use Deco Art and a brush

Black felt-tip pen

Diluted white glue left over from large pig

Super glue

Contact glue

Various pliers

Step 1: Picking Out a Calabash

There are several types of calabashes. One is the calabash from the calabash tree (Crescentia cujete) and there is the calabash/gourd from a plant belonging to the cucumber type.
For this Instructable I used calabash from the tree. I have several lying around, most of them dried because they are the easiest to work with. If you don't have a dried calabash, go for a fresh one. That is easier to empty out than one that hasn't been dried long enough. If you use a fresh one, you have to empty it with a crochet hook trough the slot you make for the coins.

How do you recognize the drying stage? As long as the calabash is green, it is fresh and easy to empty. A calabash that is already brown but not thoroughly dried, sounds and feels like it has a ball in it. The content is sticking together and very difficult to get out through a narrow opening. The calabash that has dried long enough makes a soft rustling sound, the ball is completely dry and disintegrated into powder and seeds, this works best.

This time I made a piggy bank, but it is also fun to make maracas out of calabashes. Whether fresh or not yet completely dry, most people find that the contents stink, but as soon as the calabash is empty and washed the smell is gone. Let a fresh calabash dry thoroughly after emptying and washing it. I scraped off the outer layer of my calabashes, but that is not necessary for a piggy bank.

Step 2: The Nose

I start by making the nose, for this I use an empty roll of adhesive tape. The roll is a little too low and needs to be raised. I choose the following method: If you look at the plastic roll, you will see a plastic edge in the middle. Mark that edge on the outside with a felt-tip pen. Then saw off the outer plastic edge around just next to the drawn edge. If necessary, cut the plastic support corners (see photo). A screw cap of a vitamin bottle now fits exactly over the middle circle, glue it on if necessary, the nose now has exactly the height I want. I fill the open edges with glue and paper and let it dry.
For the piglets I make the nose of two flat beads which I glue together.

Step 3: The Legs and the Ears

I mark the centre of the two elongated beads and saw them in half. I now have 4 legs. I close the holes in the beads with some paper and glue so that I have a slightly larger surface to glue.

For the ears I double glue a piece of supple leather and let it dry for a while. I leave a small piece unglued which I can fold out when I glue the ears on the pig having a larger glue surface. I fold the ears in half (lengthwise) and let them dry further in a large paper clip. I also cut four small ears for the piglets that I want to make and I let them dry in a small paper clamp.

Step 4: The Tail

I make the tail from pieces of electricity wire and some leather laces I had lying around. Using glue on the wire bit by bit so I can wrap the entire electrical wire. I make a total of three wraps. During the first round of wrapping I don't use the first 10 cm of the leather lace, I'll need that later as an extra attachment of the tail to the body. With the second wrap I only cover two thirds of the tail this way the tail gets more shape. The third and final wrap only covers a third of the tail. After glueing the tail needs to dry.

For the piglets I take two pieces of iron wire and fold them in half then I twist the iron wire together. With the help of a pair of pliers I make two curling tails.

Step 5: The Eyes

For the eyes of the piggy bank I use two black buttons to make them more sparkling on the pig l glue the buttons on white paper with super glue. As soon as the glue is dry I cut out the eyes but leave a small white border around the buttons.

For the piglets I first glue the small black glass beads with super glue on the spacers and then the spacers with beads on white paper. I also cut these out, leaving a small edge of white paper around.

Step 6: Attach All Parts to the Calabash

First I glue the legs underneath, for the piggy bank I use the sawn beads and for the piglets the wooden round beads. Gluing the legs first makes it easier to determine where the rest should go. As soon as the legs are dry I glued the nose.

Now that the nose is on, I can determine where the slot should be on the back of the piggy bank. I mark this and cut it out using the Dremel with a grinding wheel. Be protected and wear safety glasses! After making the slot I removed the seeds and dust that is inside the pig. Because the nose is not yet that expressive, I draw a circle around the nose. I smear this circle with glue and with a piece of cord I make a circle around the nose which I will call the snout. I repeat the same procedure with the piglets.
The piglets are extra and have no saving function so they do not get a slot, they are made in the same way as the piggy bank

Now it's the tail's turn. For the piggy bank I bend the tail into the correct shape. Then I look for the right drill bit and drill a hole in which I glue the tail. To give the tail extra strength, I glued the remaining leather lace onto the pig around the tail. For the piglets I only have to drill a hole and glue the tails in it. The pigtails have no weight and therefore do not need extra reinforcement of the tails.

The last part of this step: the ears. First the piggy bank. When the ears come out of the clamp, they have a nice curved shape but because of this they are not easy to glue. So I make a small cut in the parts that will be glued on the pig. When both ears are glued on, it is the piglets' turn. Nothing else needs to be done to the ears here. Since they are small and have no curves they can be glued right away.

Step 7: Papier-mâché

Now that the pigs are completely assembled and dried, they can be covered with papier-mâché. I start with the turquoise for the noses/snouts. I tear the wrapping paper into small pieces and mixed the white glue in the ratio of about 3/5 white glue 2/5 water. With the help of a brush I cover the nose/snout with 3 layers of paper. I let these layers dry a bit before I do the rest. Once it's dry enough I continue with dark purple and cover the bodies and legs and of course the tail of mama pig. The tails of the piglets will be painted. The ears, because they are made of pink leather, I leave undisturbed. The purple is also added in three layers, I add florets cuts as a finishing touch and I paint the piglets' tails. The whole must now dry thoroughly before the last step.

Step 8: The Eyes, Nostrils, Mouth and Varnish (option)

As a last step I glue the eyes, nostrils and mouth on with super glue and then the family pig is ready. At the last minute I decide to varnish them. I still have a spray can of varnish so I tape the ears with masking tape to avoid varnish on the ears. I spray the bottom first. I can just turn the big pig upside down but for the little ones I use the carton roll of toilet roll. I cut this in half, one for every piglet. Once the bottom is dry, they are turned over so I can spray the top. Please note: the photo of the aerosol paint was taken indoors but use the paint outside and wear a mask.

Family pig is finished! And in case you wonder where is father pig?
He is spending money. :-)

Happy saving!

On a Budget Challenge

Runner Up in the
On a Budget Challenge