DIY Watercolored Cactus Paper Sculpture

Inspired by our new spineless prickly pear cactus, I decided to try to make a mini paper version for my desk. My watercolor work isn't the best, but overall it's pretty darn cute. The bonus :: it requires no sun and water!

Supplies Needed:

  • Printable PDF | Cactus and Pot Templates (click to download)
  • A printer
  • 1 Sheet of 8.5" x 11" watercolor paper
  • Watercolors, paintbrush, paper towel, and water cup
  • 2 Sheets of 8.5" x 11" card stock (you choose the colors/patterns)
  • Scissors
  • Foam tape (I used 10+ Scotch Foam Mounting Squares)
  • Craft glue
  • Double-stick tape
  • Scotch tape (optional)
  • Mini or full-size popsicle stick (optional)
  • A cup of rice

1. Download the PDFs. Print sheet 1 on watercolor paper. (You can also print it on cactus-colored card stock if you don't feel like painting.) Print sheets 2 and 3 on the pieces of card stock you picked out for the exterior and interior of the pot.

2. Watercolor your cactus pieces, then let the sheet dry. Cut everything out, then do a mock-up of the layered pieces. For example: on top of section D, place D-1, then D-2. Use the diagram up there on the right if it helps.

3. Tape the pieces to the main cactus using foam squares. The top pieces are pretty small, so you may have to trim the foam tape a bit.

4. For extra stability, glue a popsicle stick (or card stock remnant) to the bottom of the back of your cactus. Make sure the length of the stick that "pokes out" will fit inside the pot.

5. Time to make the pot! This may seem complicated, but it will make sense when you're doing it. Note: SOLID lines mean CUT and DOTTED lines mean FOLD. Cut out the main pot from sheet 2 (left image above), then cut the slits as indicated by the solid lines. Complete all of your folds until this piece looks like the right image above. Fold up the sides so you can clearly see the hexagonal bottom. Apply a small amount of craft glue in the triangular sections and connect all of the sides. On the inside of your pot, you should now have 6 "flaps" that need to get out of the way. Use tape or glue to flatten them against the side walls. (See image below.)

Next, cut out the pot "interior" from your other sheet of card stock. Fold up the walls so you have a hexagonal bottom. Now, place this piece INSIDE the main pot. (It might take some finagling to get it in there.) Secure the two pieces together with double-stick tape.

Yay! Now you have a paper pot.

6. Fill the pot with rice, beans, beads, pebbles, or anything else you have on hand...then add your cactus!

I did some watercolor touch up once everything was assembled, then bent some of the segments to give it dimension.

Place your new paper succulent on your desk or give one to a family member or co-worker. :)