Ideas are easy to come by, harder to realize. I sold my clothing boutique client on the idea of a dimensional cactus themed summer window and store display. I've been drawn to tissue art as of recently, and liked the concept of watercolor like tones of tissue combined with the harder cacti form. Figuring out how to bring the concept to life became the mystery. It was my mission to find a simple way to create cacti plants that are lightweight and life like in shape.
After a stint of head scratching and store wandering, the idea came to me when I saw a display of foam fun noodles and little swimmer kick boards. I quickly grabbed a shopping cart and loaded up 20 noodles and 20 kick boards. In the checkout line I was asked by the cashier about my pool party. Still excited by the idea, I blurted out that I was going to turn them into cactus. Why I expected anything more than the half smirk and a random direction head nod from those around me, is beyond me. Huff! I guess my prickly pear making high was clearly a one man's journey.
If you can decoupage and cut shapes with scissors you can have a cactus garden! If you can climb over the fence and take your neighbors fun noodles and kick boards you can have a cactus garden for free, or the price of a misdemeanor. Relax, there is no need to pilfer. This time of year many big box and dollar stores have "polyethylene foam" swim noodles and boards for sale. Plastic suppliers like Tap often carry it in large rolls. It's used as a packing material and insulation, you will want 1/2 inch or thicker sheets.
Sedum succulents or small spreading cacti can be made from your scraps. Just cut them into tear drop shapes and round the edges. Create sizes from small to large. The more you make the longer your sedum garland will be. For trunk type cacti, cut the noodles into various lengths. Hot glue a scrap into the hole on one end. Round that end off like the tip of a cacti. To anchor and assemble all of your cacti, cut small wooden dowels or rigid straws into lengths. Hot glue them into the undersides and bottoms of your pads.
Once you have the dowels glued to your pads and trunks, you can begin decoupaging. For the sedum succulents, hot glue a length of light or floral wire into the narrow end, before decoupaging. I used gift tissue in various colors for my cacti. I mixed up a decoupage medium by diluting glue with water. You can create your own or buy ready made decoupage medium. I'd recommend a low gloss or matte. Apply randomly torn pieces of tissue. Allow them to overlap and co-mingle to create new colors. While you are decoupaging, fill your cactus pots with styrofoam and hot glue it into place. Decoupage over the top surface to hide the styrofoam.
To create cactus flowers you will need lengths of light or floral wire. For the petals, fold the tissue over several times and cut out 15-20 of successive lengths per flower. For the flower center heads, fan fold tissue and cut it into small lengths. Stack the small lengths to create a single one that consists of a 8-12 individual sheets. Cut the sheets (note the dotted lines) into strips, being careful not to go to close to center. Scrunch up the newly cut stacks into a bow tie shape while twisting the wire. Fluff the frills into a flower head shape. Trim as needed. Create the flowers by hot gluing a succession of petals onto the back side of the flower head and wire.
Once everything is dry you can start assembly. Punch holes into the styrofoam that fills your pots/containers. Insert and hot glue the dowels of your largest cactus pad into those holes. Hold it in place until it has cooled. Grow your cactus by attaching pads from large to small vertically. Pierce a hole in the tissue covered edges. Fill that hole with hot glue. As you insert each pad's dowel it will force the hot glue into the core. Once cool, your cactus becomes sturdy enough to add the fruit and flower. Hot glue them into place with the same technique.
To create your sedum garland start with a single small leaf/tear drop. Wrap three larger ones around it. Twist the first wire together with the three you added. Now you will a strand of four wires. Add additional garland length by repeatedly adding three leaves and twisting the four wire together. Secure your sedum into your arrangement by piercing a hole in the styrofoam and hot gluing it into place. In my final version I decoupaged a few rocks and hot glued them in place as a filler and for color.
I'd love to see your versions. Upload them to social media and tag me @aaronchristensenart. Please comment, message or email me questions, I'd be happy to help. If you enjoyed this and want to see more tutorials please comment, share, pin and post the DIY for other cacti lovers. Have a great time! - Aaron
Welcome to my Embellishments Journal, it's a new feature. I will be posting about some of our projects, sharing pictures and interesting things. Chime in, ask questions and keep your arms and hands inside the ride until it comes to a complete stop. -Aaron