How to make wire beaded African animals

Updated July 20, 2017

The possibilities are endless in the world of arts and crafts. Many people, especially children, find it amazing how everyday items can become art pieces. Macaroni forms pictures, tissue paper makes colourful flowers and wires and beads become figurines of African animals.

Open the package of wire pipe-cleaners and sort them by colour. Open the beads and sort them by colour as well. The animals are easier to make when the colours are already organised.

Cut a piece of wire pipe-cleaner about 12.5 cm (5 inches) long. This will be used for the animal's head. Use a colour of wire pipe-cleaner that matches the colour of the animal. For a lion or cheetah, use browns, beiges and oranges. Use grey and black hues for elephants, zebras and wildebeest. Use a free range of colours for birds. String the piece of wire pipe-cleaner with the matching beads. Bend the stringed piece of pipe-cleaner into the shape of the animal's head, and use pictures of the animal for reference. Cut and string extra pieces of wire for the heads of lions, elephants and wildebeest. These extra pieces serve as the manes of these animals, and the trunk and extra-large ears of the elephant. Glue the shape in place once the desired head shape is achieved.

Pull two longer pieces of wire pipe-cleaner and string them with the same coloured beads of the animal's head. Pattern the beads after the texture and look of the animal. Use a picture of the animal for reference. The colour of the wire pipe-cleaner should match the animal's head as well. Bend them to the length closest to the shape of the animal's torso. Twist them around each other for a more secure fit. Make loopholes in the torso for the legs, tail and neck attachments. Glue the structure in place once the desired torso shape is achieved.

Cut four more pieces of wire pipe-cleaner the same colour as the animal's head and body. String them all with the appropriate colour beads, then glue each of them at one end. String the beads in a pattern that matches the animal for a more realistic look. For example, to create a cheetah's spots, use one black bead for every three or four beige ones. Attach the other ends of these pieces to the loopholes created on the torso of the animal. Glue in place. The figurine should be standing on its own now.

Cut two more pieces of wire pipe-cleaner for the animal's neck and tail. Use a picture as a reference for how long the animal's neck and tail should be. For example, a giraffe would have a long neck and short tail, while a cheetah has a medium neck and long tail. String these pieces with the appropriate beads in the selected pattern. Attach the tail to the designated loophole on the torso. Glue both ends of the tail in place. Attach one end of the neck piece to the head and glue in place. Attach this piece to the loophole in the torso reserved for the neck and glue it in place as well. Enjoy your African animal figurine!


For older students, a regular metal roll of wire may be used instead of wire pipe-cleaner, as long as it is easily bent. The size, shape and texture of beads may vary.


No child under 15 should use glue without the supervision of an adult. Vapours may be harmful.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 packages of wire pipe-cleaners
  • 2 packages of assorted beads
  • 2 bottles of glue
  • Pictures of African animals
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About the Author

Vree Tounzhel is a radio host and a published author. Her publication is a collection of poetry and commentaries. She currently holds two bachelor's degrees in communications and theater arts, and she resides in Houston, Texas with her cat, Frisco.