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March 20, 2023

Succulents for the plant challenged

Paper succulent in a pink pot
Greenery can be yours, no maintenance required.

My mom has a house full of beautiful flowering plants. They’re all fake, but they seem so real you can almost feel the extra oxygen churning through your lungs.

Mom passed the brown thumb on to me, so if I want greenery, mine also has to be fake. There are artificial plants and flowers galore for purchase, but crafting your own foliage alternatives allows you to skip the expense.

My foray into forming faux foliage features a project from Lia Griffith, crafter extraordinaire, for three paper succulent plants. It’s a fun and easy project, you reap the stress-relieving benefits of crafting, and the results are pretty great. It’s a good project for kids, too.

Step one: Cut your leaves out

Lia offers a template to make your plants in two formats, PDF for printing then cutting, and SVGs for a Cricut or other die cutting machine. For material, Lia suggests upcycling paper grocery bags. Paper grocery bags work well with a die cutting machine; however, I wasn’t sure if a paper bag would work if you’re planning to print the template and then cut the leaves out by hand. I decided to test it out: I cut a piece of a paper bag to roughly letter size, ironed it, then fed it into my humble HP Inkjet.

grocery bag with the leaf template printed on it
If you want to use a paper bag for your leaves but don’t have a die cutting maching, print on the bag and hand cut.

It worked! But if it doesn’t work for you, just print your leaves on light cardstock.

Step two: Add color

Paper leaves in a variety of shapes and shades of green on a craft mat with two ink pads and a marker
From left to right, the leaves are colored with Spectrum Noir markers, dye ink, and pigment ink.

Once you cut the pieces out, the next step is to color. Lia uses markers; you can use whatever coloring implements you have on hand. As I have a huge stash of craft supplies, I had several options, and I tried the following: Spectrum Noir alcohol markers, dye ink, and pigment ink. I recommend pigment ink if you have it, because it allows you more control over how saturated the paper gets with color.

Step three: Add some curl

Leaf with curly edges
To curl the leaves without a curling tool, use a giftcard, credit card, or the blade of a pair of dull scissors.

The next step is shaping the leaves. Lia sells a curling tool for this purpose. If you don’t have a curling tool, try using a giftcard, as she suggests. I put an old Starbucks gold card to use and it worked great. And, as a bonus, curling the leaves allows you to get out a bit of agression.

Step four: Put it all together

Now, it’s time for assembly: glue your leaves together. Lia uses floral wire to reinforce the assembled succulents, but since I didn’t have any, I just stuck (ha ha) with glue. The finished plants held their shape just fine.

paper succulent in a ceramic planter
I sense the gnome is casting his eyes down in shame at my paper plant, but I will not be judged.

And here is one of my finished succulents. Simple to make, and although I haven’t tried it, you could easily resize the template to create them in a variety of sizes.

What are you crafting?

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