In this instructable I am going to show you, how to make self-watering Mario planters, paired with fun magnetic building blocks.

In 2010 I build a planter for my carnivorous plants out of wooden blocks:

Sadly, even though I coated the inside with a thick layer of paint, the wood has started to mould because of the watering water. So now that I have an awesome 3D printer thanks to instructables I decided to build a new version.

Btw. don't worry, if you don't have a 3D printer. I am sure that you can build all the elements out of wooden blocks, craft foam, tubes and store bought figures. Or you can build my older version, just remember to properly coat the inside.

In case you are interested in the science of the self-watering planters, this is how they work:
Like most self-watering planters, this one works due to capillary forces. The cotton or wool thread we are going to use consist of many thin hairs and therefore a lot of thin channels in which adhesion and cohesion forces occur. Note that the bigger the specific surface area compared to the volume is, the bigger the resulting capillary forces are going to be. Btw. this is the same effect, that prevents the paint or water from immediately dripping from your paintbrush or the reason why trees can't get bigger than 130 meters: After 130 m the strength of the osmotic pressure and the capillary forces are not big enough to overcome gravity [1].

Step 1: Stuff You Need


  • Magnets (I used 8x3mm ones. I could only find 1/4 x 1/16 inch ones on amazon.com. If you are in no hurry you can get 8x3mm ones on ebay.com from China) (I also used 6x1.5 mm ones for the coins)
  • Paint (For the Europeans among you, I used Revell enamel paints and am very happy with the result. The only exception are the Tubes, which I painted with Warpstone Glow from Citadel)
  • Optional: Citadel Technical: Liquid Green Stuff
  • Clear coat
  • Plastic Filament depending on your 3D printer
  • Venus flytrap
  • Carnivorous plant soil (50% Peat Moss (e.g. on amazon.com) and 50% Perlite (e.g. on amazon.com))
  • 5 mm thick cotton thread

  • 3D printer
<p>Just love this planter, exceptional work. Printed all the pieces and now sanding and prepping for paint. Question; Do you have the STL files for the frame that glues to the bottom of the inner pipe and the peg to push the string through.</p><p>I'm totally new to 3d printing, I got a 3d printer manly for my son to play with and this as been the first set of prints we have done and they all came out great. Once painted I will post a picture. Great work!!!!!</p>
<p>Thank you! Sorry, I completely forgot to upload them. They should be there now. I would love to see some pictures of the finished planters. </p>
Thanks, it's looking ok, your models are perfect I have to improve my painting skills. The tube came out great as I used Krylon for plastic spay. The brown of the brick and the yellow block came out great, I came back over with brush to add detail. At a viewing distance looks good but close up not so good. Been looking at buying a airbrush set up as I like the finished 3d printed object far better than the raw. I have mario to do which will be hand painted&lt; I should be done in a few days so I will upload some pictures. Once again great work, love it.
<p>Hi!</p><p>I really like your work here. I'm in the process of printing the parts right now. Everything is really larger than it seems in pictures! I have some questions though. The &quot;1&quot; on the coin is not centered, is this on purpose? Also I think the coins from the game are oval. Is there a specific reason why yours are circular? I can't seem to find the files for the pin and the pin holder. Could you guide me to the right direction.</p><p>I can't wait to paint these, but I doubt I will reach the level of detail you have.</p>
<p>Hi, you are right I didn't notice that it is not perfectly centered. I think they are round, take a look at that picture:</p><p><a href="http://www.mariowiki.com/coin" rel="nofollow">http://www.mariowiki.com/coin</a></p><p>They just seem to be oval, because they are always shown from the side, but feel free to design them however you like. Please post a picture when you are done. I would love to see the result. </p>
Your finished 3D printed parts are astounding - I ordered some of that green goop myself. I have been experimenting for some time with post-processing 3D printed objects...what's your process? And how did you apply the paint?? <br>
Thank you! I noticed that it is best to use a plastic primer first, since it helps the Liquid Green Stuff to stick to the pieces. Afterwards I use about three thin layers. If you want you can sand the pieces but unless you use too much of it, it is not really necessary. <br>I used a paint brush to apply the paint.
What plastic primer do you use and how do you apply? Also, what type of paint to you use? It would be great to see your whole process of Mario from print to finishing (maybe another instructable?!). Totally amazed, thank you !
Hi, I tried multiple different primers and they all worked great. So I guess as long as it says that it is for plastic you are good to go. I used a spray and just applied one layer. <br>I am planning on doing an other instructable on different ways how to smooth PLA, but haven't gotten around to it yet.
pretty cool i will do that to my plants
I love the idea of warp tubes as planters, and I like how you've included different types of interchangeable blocks. Are there magnets under Mario so he sticks to the blocks he stands on? <br /> <br />Also, any chance we can see your attempt at making Mario? I like seeing 'mistakes' as much as I finished projects :D
Thanks a lot! Mario is attached to the block he is standing on (to add stability). This block can however be attached to all the other blocks. I am thinking about making a few magnetic Goombas, but haven't gotten around to it yet. <br> <br>I just modelled one foot and half a leg and noticed that modelling the whole Mario would take me forever. So I decided to take a lot of pictures and use Recap, but as you can see on the picture, it didn't work very well. Especially the gaps between the base plate and leg and between the arm and face doesn't show up. <br> <br>I am currently building a better scanner, but first I need to finish the write-up for at least one of the projects I wanted to enter in the &quot;build your lab&quot; contest as well as a scanner for humans (to scan my family on Christmas). <br>
Superman is clearly confused about what he's seeing.
lol, I didn't realize that. I guess he isn't happy with the results either. Kudos for knowing that it is superman!
BrittLiv, I love the idea, but I found that Venus Fly traps don't like my dry climate. In my area (central California) they are sold in a small pot with a clear plastic dome over them to increase the humidity for the plant.
Ah, that's too bad. I have been growing Venus fly traps for years now and noticed that the ones under a dome actually grow worse than the ones without one. I think it might be because it is blocking the light, but I am not entirely sure.
This is a nice instructable and ill have to try it sometime. Where did you get the Venus fly traps? I've been looking for a while and can't find them anywhere.
Thank you! I got mine in a gardening store. You can also get them online, e.g. <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006QB9B1Q/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006QB9B1Q&linkCode=as2&tag=myinstrucacco-20" rel="nofollow">here</a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=myinstrucacco-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B006QB9B1Q" style="border: none;margin: 0.0px;" width="1"> or <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005L9YN6M/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B005L9YN6M&linkCode=as2&tag=myinstrucacco-20" rel="nofollow">here</a><img alt="" border="0" height="1" src="http://ir-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/ir?t=myinstrucacco-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B005L9YN6M" style="border: none;margin: 0.0px;" width="1">. If you buy them online make very sure that it says plant and not seeds. Getting it to grow from seed is really difficult and the plants are not that expensive that it would be worth the trouble.
This looks awesome!!!
Thank you!
Very nice! <br>This is I think the first painted 3d printed project I've come across on the Internet. And I must say it looks very impressive. <br> <br>Thank you for this (and your other) instructable(s). <br>
Wow, thank you! I haven't seen that many painted models, either and thought I give it a shot.

About This Instructable




Bio: Hi, my name is Britt Michelsen, I'm a Chemical Engineer especially interested in Computational Fluid Dynamics. To balance all the theoretical work I like ... More »
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