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Giant Paper Mache Cactus

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Giant Paper Mache Cactus

Kendle Starcher

Just what you've always been looking for.

I'll admit, it's odd. It's also one of the DIY's in my home that I am the most proud of, besides my jewelry. And our coffee table and entertainment center. But really, Luke built me those things so I cannot claim that as one of my DIYs. Ok, Ok. Moving on.

Back in 2015 right after we had just signed the paperwork to start building on our house, my mom and I were in HomeGoods. Clearly just torturing myself because I just gave all my money away to build a house and now I had no money left to decorate it so why else would we have been there? On our way out, I saw this beautiful, giant, 6-ft-tall metal cactus hanging out by the lamps. It was love at first sight. I had to have it. Too bad it was also $200. My mom was like, "What in the world are you going to do with a giant cactus?" Obviously, I needed it for my new living room. So I snapped a few pictures of it and filed it away in the "One day, I'll come back for this" folder. On the way home, mom and I started brainstorming. Really, a cactus shape is not that complicated. It wouldn't need to be sturdy, it's not going to hang or support anything. Paper Mache! My mom is a paper mache whiz. At home, we started gathering up supplies. Chicken wire, 2 liter Sundrop bottles, smaller water bottles, poster board, masking tape, newspapers, glue. All the usual suspects. It was Christmas time and I was approaching my sacred "christmas break" where I always save myself a few vacation days to take a week off of work for the holidays. I could not wait to get started on this project. 

Also, I was really bad at photographing the whole process. This was it once we got the arms attached. 

Also, I was really bad at photographing the whole process. This was it once we got the arms attached. 

It was decided that the base would be a Sundrop bottle full of water. Then we took a piece of chicken wire and made a tube that would fit over the bottle and stand up straight. Next up was a piece of poster board wrapped in a tube and attached to the top of the chicken wire to make the cactus as tall as I wanted it. We topped off the poster board tube with the round bottom of another Sundrop bottle. (clearly we have a Sundrop problem, but that's not what you're here for today) Now that my middle was done, it was time to add the arms. 

This is the "arm" mentioned above. It's 2 2-liter bottles taped together end to end to create a sort of "elbow" and then a peanut butter jar on the end to give it some length.

This is the "arm" mentioned above. It's 2 2-liter bottles taped together end to end to create a sort of "elbow" and then a peanut butter jar on the end to give it some length.

The arms were made out of more 2 liter bottles attached together with tape and glue and then attached to the body with more tape and glue. Seriously, next time you're paper mache-ing anything, save yourself some trips and just buy all the masking tape the store has. It won't go to waste.

Beginnings of a water bottle wrapped in tape. These were attached to the body up near the top as little baby arms. 

Beginnings of a water bottle wrapped in tape. These were attached to the body up near the top as little baby arms. 

Once we got the arms on how we wanted, it was several, several layers of newspaper. Tear it in strips so it's easier to handle, dip it in the watered down glue mixture and press it on. The goal here is to try and make a relatively smooth surface. You're really just trying to smooth out any tape sections. 

After the newspaper dried, we took heavy twine we got from the craft store and glued on a few long pieces running from end to end. This is essentially the prickles or raised edges cactuses have. 

After that all dried, we went back over it with strips of tissue paper. Same as with the newspaper, but again it was just to smooth out the surface and give a little more depth to the "prickles".

This was after the last tissue paper layer. See how the surface and around the "prickles" have more depth? Also, you can't see any of our seams in the elbows or where the arm branches off the body. 

This was after the last tissue paper layer. See how the surface and around the "prickles" have more depth? Also, you can't see any of our seams in the elbows or where the arm branches off the body. 

Now, we paint!

First it was a layer of black spray paint, then we just tested out different shades of green until we got the look we were going for. That's the beautiful thing about paint. You can't mess it up, just keep adding more paint until you get where you wanna be. Or, spray it all black again and start over. NBD.

Also - Go Clemson!

Also - Go Clemson!

There she is! My pride and joy! I just love seeing it when I walk into my house every day. 

What's a DIY you've tried and wound up loving?

Happy Crafting, babes!

PS - Isn't she so fun decorated for Christmas?!

PS - Isn't she so fun decorated for Christmas?!