Supersized Paper-Mache House Plant

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Introduction: Supersized Paper-Mache House Plant

About: College Student from VA

I love the way plants really bring life to a room. I’ve always wanted to have a big one in my bedroom, but I’m terrible at keeping even the smallest plants alive, and my cats always dig in the dirt. So I decided to make a big plant out of paper mâché, because I also love the texture of paper mâché sculptures!

I love this as decoration in my room and as a way to hold my necklaces, but it would also be so cute in a nursery or children’s room!

Supplies

I did not want to go to the store, so this is made entirely of supplies I had lying around my house.

I used:

A couple of large newspapers/newsprint paper

Cardboard

Lots of Masking tape and packaging tape

Wire

Wirecutters

A box cutter

All Purpose flour

Acrylic paint

Paintbrushes

Step 1: Sketch Out Your Sculpture

This is just to create a guide for what you want to build! As you will see, mine changed throughout my building process, but this helped me envision how I wanted it to be.

Step 2: Make the Planter Armature

To begin, I cut out a circle for the base of my planter. I then cut out 12" strips of cardboard and used my box cutter to put shallow cuts in these pieces, allowing them to bend. I cut a many of these strips in all different widths, but all 12" tall. Then, I taped these long pieces to the base circle, with the bottoms of the long strips touching to the one adjacent until the entire base was covered.

Since I want the planter to get wider as it goes up, I then taped more cardboard pieces (still 12") to the triangular gaps between each strip. Once all the gaps are filled and I have the planter-like shape I want, I cut a few more pieces of cardboard with shallow slices in it, this time for the top rim. These are about 4.5" tall. I then taped them around the top of the planter.

Finally, I filled the planter with crumpled up newsprint. I put in many layers of this to create a solid base for my plant to stand in, taping around them after each one.

Step 3: Make Your Stem Armature

I began by wrapping two pieces of wire around each other to create a strong base. From there, I wrapped that wire with newsprint paper and masking tape. Following that, I put long tubes of cardboard (with shallow slices allowing it to bend) around that. I used masking tape all over to connect everything and keep it sturdy. On the bottom of the stem, I added around 5 cardboard coverings and used a lot of tape to connect that base to the planter.

Remember, this is all going to be covered by paper mache, so it can totally look messy here! Also, as you add leaves, parts that were once sturdy could droop, and in that case, you can add a rod or thin piece of wood to keep part of the stem straight. As you can see, mine has a slight tilt, but it is still sturdy, and I wanted it to have a more organic look than if it were completely straight.

Step 4: Add Leaves to Your Armature

I took whatever pieces of wire I had leftover and twisted them together to form this leaf shape. I then left extra wire around the bottom to wrap around the stem. It is okay if the leave shapes are little wonky, I actually prefer that because then they look more like real leaves!

After you make the leaf shape, wrap the extra wire around the stem, and use tape to secure it in place. Now, take a piece of newspaper and wrap it all around the leave, taping it to keep the shape created by the wire.

Repeat this step to create as many leaves as you'd like! Try to keep each side balanced so it does not want to fall to one side.

Step 5: Make Your Paper-Mache Paste!

I chose to make a cooked paste because it dries with the smoothest texture to paint over. The ratio for this is 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour for every 1 cup of cold water. I made 3 separate batches throughout my process because it gets thicker over a few hours and is harder to work with. Each batch was 2-3 cups of water and so 4-6 tablespoons of flour. Put this mixture in a pan and whisk until there are no clumps. Then, put it on medium-high heat and continue stirring until you have a thick and creamy consistency like the second photo.

As it cools, you can either cut or rip your newspaper to make lots of strips. I used a paper cutter, but scissors or even your hands will work too.

Step 6: Cover Your Structure in Paper-mache

Dip each piece into the paste, getting enough to cover it, and then put them onto the structure in all different directions. This will ensure it is as strong as possible.

Continue to cover the entire structure, and do at least 2 coats of paper-mached strips. I did around 4-5 layers on areas I wanted to be really strong, like the base and where the leaves meet the stem.

Now, wait for it to dry! For me, it dried overnight, but it is hot where I live, so this can vary.

Also, my cat loved to play in the strips of paper during this step!

Step 7: Paint Your Sculpture!

I began by painting the tops of all the leaves, as well as the stem, with a bright green. Then, I mixed yellow and white with that green to create a slightly lighter color to paint the bottoms of the leaves. I used this same color to paint the veins on top of the leaves.

Next, I mixed brown and black and used that to paint the dirt around the stem. Finally, I painted the terracotta planter using a brown and orange mix.

Step 8: Enjoy Your Plant!

Once has the paint is dry, you're done! Use this simply as decor, or to hang jewelry on!

I hope you like it!

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