cactus paper embellishments in green and brown

Happy little cactus garden

Have you ever heard the saying that, “We are all nothing, but pretty and unique cactus plants”? The first time I heard this – in my teenage years – I was shocked and disagreed. Now – in my …beep!… years, I absolutely understand this “theory” and agree wholeheartedly.

paper cactus embellishments

My Cactus philosophy

Maybe the feeling of the “cactus in me” makes so many people like cactuses. This is not only a fashion trend, a modern movement or a market initiated mania. This is something deeper.
Accepting and appreciating the “cactus in me”, we can understand better the specific problems we are going through in our life stages, and the motivation of other people’s behaviour. And – this is very important – we can learn to be less hurt by others, just by learning to imagine their beautiful flowers above the thorns.
I decided to create these little cactus gardens for my bullet journal, but making them, realised how wonderful they also are for a child’s notebook. Back to school! Let’s show the little ones, that everything which looks scary and potentially punishing, can also be a good teacher and something actually beautiful.

How to make these cactus embellishments

To make these little cactus embellishments you first need to cut out the cactuses.
I used my paper dies and my beloved Sizzix Big shot machine, but if you want (and have all the patience needed), you can cut them by hand.
cactus shapes - dark green and light green paper
Once you have visualized the size of your cactus plants and the number you want in one pot, you can cut out the pot too. First, I made a stencil, using one of the many, many pieces of box paper I have in storage. If you read my blog, you know my addiction to recycle all different sorts of paper packages, especially those with natural colours.
stencil cutting
If you want the stencil symmetric, don’t worry about folding it in two. This is the best way to keep the shape.
stencil, folded on two, to be symetric
After that, I draw some “pots” on other pieces of paper, leftovers from other projects.
drawing cactus pot shapes on white paper

My favourite water colouring

The colouring was easy with watercolour markers and a water brush. Every time, when I have a small thing to draw or paint, I can’t stop thinking what a genius was the creator of this water container brush.
paper watercolour markers and water brush
If colouring with watercolour markers, I suggest starting from the edges and working towards the centre, as I did. Or from the centre to the edges. Only don’t fill all the space. This will keep the transitions of the colours nice and soft as they are blended with the water brush. I made my blue “palette” outside of the drawing, to keep the blue colour cleaner and brighter.

See how it happened.
colouring the cactus pots in brown and blue
While the watercolours were drying, I outlined some cactus elements with white and black pens. This is not necessary, just an opportunity to embellish.
decorating the cactus shapes with black and white pens. White in the dark green shapes, black - in the light ones
After the “pots” are dry, you can decorate them with lines and dots.
decorating the brown pots with white dots
Cut little labels, if you want to put a message in your embellishments and make them look a little bit shabby. I will tell you a secret. I already had these labels, so if you look at the picture with the folded stencil, you will see how I drew the size of the label to be sure it will look ok in the cactus pot.
the labels for the cactus pots - white and natural brown paper
For the messages I used simple glitter glue.

glitter glue messages LOVE and JOY

While waiting

While the glue was drying, which takes a looong time, I tinted the cactus shapes a little bit,
blending the cactus shapes with my favourite blending tool - cork with a kitchen sponge
… glued them on the back side of each “pot”
green cactuses glued on the white back of the cactus pot
…and supported the glued area with pieces of thin paper to ensure the elements will not fall apart.
the glued parts are supported with thin white paper ribbon
And also cooked a lunch for my husband and son, read a book for a while, talked on the phone with my sister, had lunch with my family, hung out two loads of washing and had a nice afternoon walk. Yes, you will need at least 4 – 5 hours for the glitter glue on the labels to be completely dry.
After that, when the pots were finished, I glued on the labels.
one finished cactus embellishment - turquoise brown pot and green cactuses with label LOVE
And the project was finished!
Yes, it took me almost one day to complete everything, but I did a lot of other things between the stages. This is why I like to work from home so much … but this is a theme for a different story…

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