Rhinestone Rhinoceros Menorah

I never claimed to have good taste.
Extensive glitter collection, yes.
Good taste, no.
But listen y’all, it’s Chanukah, and if I want to remember the miracle of the Maccabees through a something four-legged, spangled and fabulous, well, I’m dang-well going to do it!
The pink elephant came about a few years ago following a long night of Disney’s Dumbo, good gin and too many Velvet Underground albums. It’s not unusual for me to messing around with terra cotta clay late at night, and that particular night, when inspiration struck, I saw the elephant on my kitchen counter…and boom! A menorah was born. 
They are easy to make. It’s just a toy + clay + paint/glitter/fancy-top-coat-of-your-choice. Honest. That’s it. If you are thinking hey, maybe I could make that then that’s a good sign you should have made one already. 
So let’s get started, shall we?
The base toy can be any plastic animal laying around the toy chest or your local dollar store (I happen to have an affinity for dinosaurs and rhinoceroses, but y’all decide for yourself!) For those who don’t keep terra cotta clay on hand at all times, get yourself some play clay or make some salt dough. Doesn’t really matter what sort of clay you use, just make sure it’s something that will air dry (FYI: the stuff pictured is from Crayola and is called “Model Magic” and cost $3 for enough clay to make three menorahs using this method –my first time using it and I was impressed.) I could write a step-by-step tutorial on this, but I think you can get the gist of it by looking at the pictures. To summarize:
  • Lay some clay on the animal’s back.
  • Stick some candles in the clay.
  • Let the candles dry.
  • Paint it up.
  • Snazz it up.
  • Light it up.
Dry time will vary depending on density and humidity levels, but I would allow a good 24 hours at least.
Tip: All clay will expand and contract as it dries, so leave the candles in the clay so you can be sure they will fit later.
Tip: If you find your clay/dough is too elastic to support the candle upright, wrap a small amount of the clay around the base of the candle before inserting into the base clay
Tip: If you have a hard time blending the spots where the clay ends and toy body starts, dribble on some white glue. That’ll patch it up.
Tip: Glitter in two coats with two shades of the same color glitter –it will look sparkly and decadant, as well as eliminate any annoying glitter shedding.

Coat 1: Slather your creature with glue and liberally apply glitter. Dry.

Coat 2: Mix together equal parts glue, water, glitter in a shade slightly different than the first coat, and paint the mixture all over. Dry 24 hours.

Tip: Don’t leave candles burning unattended. Do really need me to tell you this? If you are reading this, you should know this already. If you don’t know this, then skip this project. You should be spending more time on fire safety than craft time.
Tip: Don’t freak out about wax drippings. You spent $2 on making this. It’s not your grandmother’s menorah; it’s a glittered circus animal.  If you really want to remove any potential drippings, you can dip the hole thing in hot water for 5 seconds and it will release in a jiffy. Relax, Max.
Tip: Display your finished menorah in front of a mirror. Reflected candlelight is ridonkulously beautiful.
Tip: You still here? What are you waiting for? Get started!


  1. says

    who would’ve thought a glittery rhinoceros menorah could be so beautiful?

  2. says

    Too…much…can’t process…the redonk. Hahahaha! The rhino is the most hip-crazy-freak of a menorah I’ve ever seen, and I want one! Can’t believe the super simple technique for this, you are so good at the brilliantly easy thing.

  3. says

    This is remarkable. In a good way, I mean. I’m all set for menorahs, but I want a pink glittered t rex in the worst way…

  4. says

    Good taste is highly over-rated! I’m into chintz and glitter myself. Your menorahs are too much fun!!

  5. Kelly says

    Question, Aunt peaches: is it offensive for non Jewish people to keep a menorah in their home? I think they are beautiful but I don’t want to offend anyone. you seem pretty open about stuff so I thought I would ask. Please forgive me if it’s a rude question, i just always wanted to know.

  6. says

    Thank you for making me smile as your post appeared. It definitely was not what I expected. The rhino is great by itself but when coupled with the elephant — I’m speechless. thanks again, I love it.

  7. says

    Good question Kelly! Hmmm….I am hesitant to answer because I am not an authority on the matter, but I’ll tell you what I know, take it or leave it.

    Ahem; three things:

    1. I have a friend who claims to be an authority on everything from kugel to keeping a kosher bathroom (seriously), who has been known to say “displaying a menorah in a Christian home is like keeping a statue of Buddha in the Vatican.” (Offensive –no. Inappropriate–yes.)

    2. My friend also claims computers are radioactive and will fry your brains from the inside out. And because I am confident she is not reading this, I will tell you: my friend is full of crap.

    3. Any gesture to learn and preserve and celebrate cultures and beliefs beyond our own, is, in my opinion, an act of love. It is selfless and admirable and you should feel good that the thought ever crossed your mind 🙂

    And, I might add, just because you have a menorah does not mean you are worshiping one, just as you will find that not everyone who owns a Bible is a Christian who follows the gospel. There are lessons to be learned and common ground to be discovered. These are good things. So what if someone is offended? Is their opinion more valuable than all you have to gain?

    Look, I’m not trying to convert anyone (believe me on that one!) but there is a whole lot of cool stuff about menorahs besides the fact that they are beautiful. Channukah isn’t just ‘the festival of lights’ –it’s a story of endurance. It’s about people who survived a horrific act of violence and humiliation, only to rebuild their community with little more than love, compassion, and candlelight. That story reaches far beyond Judaism…turn on the nightly news and you will see that story repeating itself over and over…families destroyed by violence or circumstance, putting themselves together again. So, all that is to say, Channukah is a lot like like Humpty Dumpty. But with candles. And religion. And multiple spellings.

    OK, Kell, that’s what I know. Again, you can feel free to take it or leave it, or if anyone else has another opinion –feel free to chime in. I do not claim to be an authority on this matter and I would happily challenge anyone who claims to be, but we all have opinions and this is a friendly forum to share them 🙂

  8. Anonymous says

    Well said. These things should be talked about more often.

  9. says

    I’m catching up on my blog reading and came across this. You have made my year. I wish we were neighbors so I could sneak over after my kids go to bed and sample whatever kind of punch you are drinking. Holy menorah!

    • Carolyn says

      Just saw the ‘Bullpotamus’ pic and thought I would die from laughing so hard! Love it!

  10. says

    LOVE THIS! Just want to mention that Hanukah candles are supposed to be left to burn until they extinguish themselves (not blown out). Obviously, they should NOT be left to burn all the way down on a menorah like this, particularly if you use Model Magic to hold your candles, because I believe it is flammable when dry. You might be able to get away with it with air-dry terracotta type clay as this is generally not flammable.

  11. sara says

    Any ideas where I could find these kinds of animals? I would love to do this project but am only finding very expensive. Stores or website recommendations are very welcome!

    • aunt peaches says

      I find mine at Dollar Tree. They carry animals of all sizes at Michael’s in the kid section – I have seen as little as $7, but if you want one that is more, time your visit to when they have 40% coupons (pretty much every other week at this time of the year). Good luck!


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