DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe)

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These simple DIY brass nutcrackers look just as good as their Arhaus inspiration for a tiny fraction of the cost!

What a world we live in when the antique brass nutcracker you just spent a small fortune on is not, in fact, brass nor is it remotely antique, vintage or even slightly aged.

But I suppose if you’re the kind who drops Benjamins at Arhaus on the regular, such trivialities simply don’t matter. It’s expensive, therefore it’s good.

My babes recently came across this admittedly beautiful “Antique Brass Nutcracker” on the Arhaus website.

antique brass nutcracker

And of course, she wanted me to dupe it. No problem! One dupe coming right up. But then I took another look at the item (it’s a totally shrimpy nutcracker, by the way), and that’s when my eyes began to roll uncontrollably in their sockets.

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

Two things jumped out at me:

  1. Each nutcracker IS crafted, not WAS crafted. So antique is out the window. These things are about as antique as yesterday’s news.
  2. The Indian artisans toiling away with such artistry somewhere near the Nepalese border are making these “brass” nutcrackers out of aluminum and iron. Now, I may not be the sharpest potato in the tool shed, but even I know that brass is an alloy of copper and zinc.

So not only is Arhaus selling an antique brass nutcracker that is neither antique nor brass, but the dinky little thing would have trouble cracking open a peanut, let alone more macho nut like a walnut!

Still, a good dupe is a good dupe, and this nutcracker is a perfect subject for a quick, easy and inexpensive holiday dupe.

So let’s get down to brass tacks, so to speak, and get on with our duping!

By the way, while making my antique brass nutcrackers (I’m not even going to bother with the word “faux,” because apparently it’s no longer necessary!) I had a Bob Ross moment – a happy little accident that makes my antique brass look even older and brassier than the lumps of iron coming out of India! More on that in a bit.


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DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

We love to see our craft projects out in the wild! If you try this seasonal craft project, take a picture and post it on Instagram, be sure to tag us @TheNavagePatch!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers VIDEO Tutorial

Watch our short and fun video below for an overview of our DIY antique brass nutcrackers before you read the detailed step-by-step tutorial.

Watch Our Tutorial On YouTube

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We made these gorgeous Antique Brass Nutcrackers with Michaels unfinished nutcrackers. They’re a cheap, easy and beautiful dupe of a very expensive antique brass nutcracker. Be sure to follow @michaelscraftstore for more craft fun and inspiration! #sponsored #MakeitwithMichaels #Christmas #Christmas2022 #Christmasiscoming #Christmasishere #Christmas #christmascrafts #christmasdiy #diychristmas #learnontiktok #christmasiscoming #holidaycrafts #christmasdecor #christmasdecorating #christmasdecorations #nutcracker #christmasdiyideas #diychristmasdecor

♬ original sound – TheNavagePatch – DIY & Crafts

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers Tutorial

I made my nutcracker dupes over the course of two days. On the first day, I did the one really big nutcracker we had and one of the medium sized ones.

man holding a wood nutcracker

On that first day, I simply painted two nutcrackers with Rustoleum Metallic Antique Brass spray paint. There is no substitute for this paint color – it is absolutely perfect, and it’s one of our favorite Rustoleum colors!

man painting a nutcracker

And they turned out beautifully! Check out the perfect color tone and nice, even coverage. It looks like meticulously maintained antique brass!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

There was just one problem that I needed to fix on the first two and the ones that would come later: all the end grain areas sucked up the paint so the end grain was very visible.

nutcracker base
nutcracker base

I was aware of this issue while painting them, and I must have hit those end grain parts at least 10 times, up close with paint. But that end grain was thirsty! No matter how many times I drenched it, it just kept slurping in the paint!

I figured if I hit those areas the next day with some spray shellac, that should work to seal off the grain and allow me to get proper coverage.

man holding shellac in front of nutcrackers

Because remember, we’re trying to make this look like realistic antique brass, and I wouldn’t be fooling anyone with the end grain popping out like that.

I shellacked the end grain areas of the already-painted nutcrackers, and then on a whim, I shellacked the other nutcrackers, head-to-toe.

man shellacking nutcracker
man shellacking nutcracker

The Bob Ross moment is coming up…

The can of shellac said to wait at least an hour before painting, but I had no intention of waiting more than a minute. What could possibly go wrong, right?

man painting nutcrackers

Well, that impetuous decision led to an amazing discovery!

The spray paint reacted with the shellac in a weird way that seemed to push a silvery-metallic color to the surface here and there.

spray painted nutcracker
spray painted nutcracker

It was incredible to watch!

spray painted nutcracker

Whatever was happening amplified the antique aspect of the bronze. This was really looking like old metal!

spray painted nutcracker

So we now have two beautiful antique brass nutcrackers painted in the traditional manner, and five more painted with my Bob Ross Happy Little Accident method!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by
DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by
DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

Aren’t they incredible!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by
DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

And you can’t beat the price! You can make the little ones for just a few dollars!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by
DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

Once you try Metallic Antique Brass spray paint, you just may start to use it on everything!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

We also used it to paint all the frames for our recent guest bedroom makeover.

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by
DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by
DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

Let us know in the comments if you’ll be giving this simple dupe a try, and also let us know if you’ll use my wet shellac technique!

DIY Antique Brass Nutcrackers (Arhaus Dupe) by

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  1. I love it when little happy accidents occur while crafting! They look great, both ways! But I think the silver/brass is my fav!

      1. It always seemed to me he had access to a whole lot better “therapeutic botanical” than the rest of us in the 80’s. Love these and plan to try 3 small ones if I can find them. Thanks! Cheryl

    1. He was a painter with a TV show. Had a huge head of permed hair. Very mellow dude who taught the world to paint and that there were happy little accidents! 🙂

  2. I’m definitely giving this one a go! I love love love these nutcrackers! You nailed this effort, especially with the “serendipity” moment.

      1. My grandson (who is 18 and in college) absolutely loves Bob Ross. We visited him for Thanksgiving and Bob was painting away on his TV the whole time we were at his dorm. He’s autistic and finds Bob Ross very calming.

        Love, love, love the nutcrackers. They are absolutely gorgeous!

    1. Okay! I remember his show. He made painting look as easy as making a grocery list. And I do remember his hair. (Remember ‘Bernie’ from “Room 222”? Now that was some big hair!).

  3. Oh that’s a cool trick to know!! These turned out incredibly cute and better than the originals 👏👏

    These would make great gifts as well!

  4. Well..”Bob’s your uncle”, are a smart little cookie. I will have to save this one for next Xmas, I guess. I’m in Southeast Asia now until mid March! No shellacking going on here! Thanks for this tho! They look really really good!

  5. Hi Greg, I love the metallic brass the best. But what I fell in love with is the picture behind them with the star out of greenery. Did you by chance make it or purchase it? Love it and all the things this holiday you have made. How’s the posting of the 23 year calendar. Got posty notes all over my 22 calendar. Seems like I may be busy next year Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family.

  6. I Love nutcrackers and I will be doing a few of these they are so beautiful Thanks for the shareing of these!! You did great Greg…

  7. Karen#2
    I guess I’d better identify myself since I see you already have a Karen follower. Love love love. I’m also drawn to the antique looking black/gold Christmas ornaments in the greenery in front of the crackers. Did I miss a post last year, or is it coming soon?

  8. I’m loving these. Looks like I’m going to be out tomorrow looking for wooden nutcrackers. Yours turned out great. Thanks for sharing the “dupe”.

  9. You are my HERO!!! I love this nutcracker. I can’t wait to complete the project. Thanks for your creativity and humor.

  10. Just ordered both shellac and the metallic paint off Amazon before your post generates a sellout 🙂 LOL, now to get to Michael’s before they sell out there ;-0 Thanks again for another AMAZING post!!

  11. Definitely on my list for next year and I’ll be using you happy little accident all over my army of nutcrackers (might need to add silver beards after painting).

  12. I just finished mine! Soaking off happy little accidents…. I grabbed the antiqued bronze off the shelf and didn’t double check the back of the can. Ended up with rose gold, but they look spectacular anyway! My daughter asked if we could have a “more professional looking” tree this year, so I grabbed a bunch of the little packages as well and she’s in love with the whole theme, thank you!!!

  13. Awesome!! I just bought the last 2 nutcrackers on sale at Michael’s (yesterday) and plan on doing this.

    How many cans of Shellac and the Rustoleum metallic paint should I get??

  14. FAB-U-LOUS!!! Ok, I picked up Nutcrackers of all sizes at Michael’s yesterday!! They were buy 1 get 3 free!!! Amazing!! Made a trip to Menards this morning and picked up the Shellac and Antique Brass spray paint. So, Mr. Ross……is your advice to spray the boys with shellac first??? That is what I got from reading your experience, but I want to make sure! Thanks ever so much for sharing. I haven’t unpacked my white nutcrackers from last year yet. Do I put them on opposite sides of the room, in different rooms or all together facing each other ready to duke it out. So many discissions! Thanks again, Bob!!

    1. Wow, buy one, get three – now that’s a good deal! Yes, you want to shellac first and then follow up after a minute with the paint – don’t wait around for the shellac to cure. Good luck and have fun Wendy!