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Carnivorous Plants of Paper Mache

Author's note: this how-to was written years ago, before I started mastering toilet paper mache. In fact, I wrote this while making my first plant ever. Which explains why it's so pitiful (the pictures, the instructions and my technique). But I've decided to keep the original images and most of the original content for you to see what it might look like the very first time you try to make one yourself.

Materials Needed:

  • styrofoam balls
  • wire
  • a heavy stick or branch
  • fake fangs
  • acrylic paint
  • glue
  • toilet paper
  • hot glue gun (optional)
  • plaster (optional)

Step 1: Choose Your Base

I had an old terracotta pot and a small branch. You could use any old pot or container.

Back then (being the scrounging, recycling, reusing mad woman I was), I packed the branch in with styrofoam I had from packaging. This was back in the day when green florist foam was expensive and impossible to find. You can even get floral wire these days which is super-bendable and forgiving.

If you're making a large plant (like this one), I would suggest you do a mixture of packing material (to fill in most of the space) and plaster. You don't have to fill it all the way to the top. You just want enough so a) the branch/stem is secure, and b) your plant won't topple over once you add the papermache to your styrofoam balls.

Step 2: Attach the Foam Balls

I had styrofoam balls of 3 different sizes. I used the largest ones for the "bloomed" plant heads, and smaller ones for the buds.

I cut mouths into the large styrofoam balls, and then put them on the end of wire. You can use a dab of hot blue where the wire meets the foam.

Then I wrapped the wire around the branch.

Step 3: Add the Foliage

I wanted a lot of fine texture for the foliage, so I used toilet paper as my mache mix. It can completely disintegrate into a pulpy mush so easily with too much glue or too much fussing, so don't be discouraged if you try it and fail at first. After a bit of trial and error, you get a feel for it. Make peaks with it, tear it, layer it...just be sure to give it plenty of drying time. (I have since written a tutorial on this which you may find helpful)

I began covering the wires, the back of the blooms and creating leaves.

I also created leafy shapes coming out from the bottom. As you can see, it isn't a perfect shape. You merely want to make it come to a point at the end, and try to create highs and lows in the body of the leaf, like a wave.

You could make the outline of the leaves with wire, and cover those with mache. You could also use fake leaves from craft stores.

This all took a long time to dry. Be patient. It will take at least 24 hours to dry all the way through.

Step 4: Painting

All dry and ready to go. I began adding a base of green to stem and foliage (Update: When I make plants these days, I start with a base of brown, then green).

I gave a quick coat of browns and blacks to the showing styrofoam, and then painted the large leaves at the base. I'm going to cover most of the bottom with actual soil, but I want to make sure if anything peeks through, it's got colour.

The heads of the plants were golden colours with hints of greens and browns, and subtle highlights.

Step 5: Fangs

I cut fangs off some plastic teeth I got at the dollar store, painted them white and put wire in them which would later be inserted into the open mouths of bloomed plants.