Easy DIY Giant Paper Mache Cactus

DIY Giant Paper Mache Cactus

If you have been following my blog you will know that I have a bit of a thing about cacti and did a round up of great cactus-themed crafts. I can’t justify the cost of buying a giant cactus, real or artificial and I don’t have the greenest of fingers.
Therefore I decided that the only way I was going to get a giant cactus was by making one. My friend Wendy and I made a paper mache cactus each but we didn’t stop there, after making Marimekko shoes a couple of weeks ago we thought it would be fun to pimp our cacti with paper napkins.
So we now have a fantastic Marimekko giant cactus and a giant pear cactus.
Add some fun to your home and garden decor with these easy to make giant paper mache cactus.  Great for parties.
2 cacti patio

What you need to make paper mache cactus

Plaster of Paris
Plant pot (off ebay)
Large stick (broom handle)
Chicken wire
Craft wire or thin wire
Masking tape
Green tissue paper
Napkins for decoration – I used Marimekko ones. (optional)
PVA glue
Waterproof PVA Glue or Mod Podge
Glue brush/ foam pad
Any old stick or broom handle will do just bare in mind this will determine the height of your cactus. The chicken wire I used was just an old roll I managed to scrounge from my local junk shop. As I use a lot of PVA for my crafts I buy it in large tubs from the DIY store as that’s much cheaper then buying it from craft stores.

For these cactus we used Marimekko napkins and some green pear print napkins from IKEA, one packet should be plenty enough for each cactus.

How to make Paper mache cactus

DIY giant paper mache cactus

  1. To create a firm base you need to set your stick in Plaster of Paris into a pot/small bucket. To do this mix Plaster of Paris as to the instructions on the packet. Stand your stick up in the creamy mixture, prop up the stick using either a table or chair and tie with string. You want to make sure your stick remains upright as the plaster sets.

  3. Once your stick is set, use the chicken wire to create a frame. To do this we wrapped the chicken wire around the stick to the desired thickness and tapered the top. Then with more chicken wire we created two arms and attached to the frame with loose bits of wire. Chicken wire is very easy to manipulate into shape.

  5. The gaps in our chicken wire were quite large so it was very difficult to paper mache straight on to the frame, to overcome this we used masking tape. We covered the cactus frame in strips of tape about 2 cm apart. This then provided a surface for the newspaper to adhere to the frame.

  7. Cut your newspaper into strips approximately 3cm X 20cm. Paste the PVA glue onto the newspaper strips and stick to the frame until covered.

  9. Once dry, dilute your PVA glue 2 parts glue to 1 part water. Cut your tissue paper into strips approx 3cm X 10cm. This time paint the diluted glue onto the newspaper layer and then place the tissue paper on top until completely covered. Leave to dry

  11. For the final paper mache layer we used paper napkins. Most napkins are 3 ply, separate out your napkins so you only use the top printed ply. This time doesn’t cut you napkins into strips but tear them so you get a feathered edge. Using the same glue mixture and method with the tissue cover your cactus in the napkins.

  13. Finally when the napkin layer is dry cover the whole cactus with waterproof PVA to provide it with a protective finish. Waterproof PVA glue is thicker than normal PVA so it’s best to apply with a foam brush so as not to tear the napkins. This PVA appear white when applied but don’t worry as it dries clear.
    Paper mache cactus
    Marimekko Cactus Pillarboxblue.com
    Paper mache cacti
    pear cacti patio 2
    I think that these cactus are a fun decoration, they look great in the garden for a summer party. You could just have them casually in your home for more unique decoration.
    The cacti could be used as an unusual hat/coat stand. The green pear one is for my sons room, which has just been revamped with a cacti theme. I am coveting the Marimekko one my friend Wendy made and may have to make another one myself.
    Paper mache Cactus
    You can find other great summer crafts at allfreeholidaycrafts.com


23 Responses

  1. Love these! I see you mixed the plaster of paris in a metal bucket, but then your cacti are in the ceramic pots. Did you just lift it out? Or is the metal pot inside of the ceramic one?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you 😊 Well spotted Kate the metal bucket is inside the ceramic pots.

  2. […] made this paper mache rabbit head in a very similar way to my giant paper mache cactus but on a much smaller scale. […]

  3. Love these, I started to make two of them for our school fundraiser. Wondering what you mean by diy store vs craft store… what is a diy store? Did you use elmers glue-all (pva glue) I understand that prevents mold? Thank you! You can get a mold

    • Hi Sarah, DIY stores are what we call home improvement stores/builders stores in the UK. You can often buy white glue (PVA glue) in larger quantities in these stores so it’s cheaper. As I use a lot of white glue I buy a 5lt bucket from my DIY store. You should be able to get mold resistant glue or an additive to add to it to make it mold resistant in your home improvement store.

  4. […] these colourful fabric cacti, which was used to display jewelry in a Desigual store.     13. Giant Paper mache Cactus – Pillarboxblue   I know I said 12 crafts but since posting this roundup, I created my own cactus craft. […]

  5. […] Get the full tutorial here: DIY Giant Paper Mache Cactus at Pillar Box Blue […]

  6. I made 2 cactus avout 5.5 feet tall and pur lights in tgem abd drillwd smalled holes all over for a friends mexican theme party looked great!

    • Wow I bet they did look good. I love my cactus, and they’ll be a good excuse to throw a Mexican themed party in the summer.

  7. […] I made this last summer with my crafty friend Wendy, it provides a fun focal pint in her kitchen. Pillarboxblue       4. When you’ve finished drooling over the Marimekko catalogue […]

  8. […] of a recent bedroom make over for my son Fergus, I made some cool stuff for his room such a giant papermache cactus and a denim pocket organizer. He had a load of sport medals that just hung from a hook on the end […]

  9. […] Click HERE for the instructions […]

  10. These are amazing! What a fun and crazy crazy craft 😀
    I hope you will share your cacti with Idea Box this week:

    • Claire Armstrong

      Thank you

  11. Those are so creative…I LOVE them!!! They add such a whimsical touch!
    Visiting from Mom Blogs Party
    Lisa @ Fun Money Mom

    • Claire Armstrong

      Thank you

  12. Reminds me of an art project I had to do in college–something big made of paper mache. I think I did a dinosaur or something. I hope you had more fun than I did.

  13. Oh my goodness Claire! This is an awesome prop for a western party!!! Perhaps for my next one I throw, I will venture to make this. 🙂 Definitely pinned! Thanks for sharing this tutorial.

    • Claire Armstrong

      Thanks my son has one of them in his room as a hat stand and it makes me smile every time I go in.

  14. You are just the best crafter ever, LOVE this! The results are fantastic, though I would recommend putting those little pots into bigger pots for a more realistic look, as a cactus that size could never sit in such a small pot. You could even use some rustic buckets or trash bins that you may already have! Thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday, I think this might be something I could actually get my boys interested in doing!

    • Claire Armstrong

      Thanks and thanks for the potting suggestion I think I will look out for a bigger pot.

  15. […] DIY Paper Mâché Cactus @ Pillar Box Blue […]

  16. You continue to dazzle me with your uses for napkins. These are SO cool.

    • Claire Armstrong

      Thanks, we didn’t intend to pimp our cacti with napkins when we started making them but the idea just came to us awhile we were making them and we really liked the end result.

  17. What a quirky and fun idea! I love it!

    • Claire Armstrong

      Thanks they are a bit quirky that’s why I love them

  18. So pleased with the end result, everyone comments when they see it. It just makes me smile x

    • Claire Armstrong

      I know they are just a bit of fun that brightens the place up.

  19. Alison at Home

    Haha love these, what a fab idea!

    Alison At Home!

    • Claire Armstrong


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