Upcycled cardboard cactus | the ReFab Diaries
It's March, 2020. Many of us are now living "in lockdown", or we're "sheltering in place" or doing whatever your community calls "stay-at-home 24/7". If you're doing this with young children, I empathize. I'm home with a 9.5 year-old Ms R.

So as we come up with crafts that we love, and that require only stuff that you probably already have in your home, I'll share them here.

First up: how to make a junky little succulent. Doesn't need any watering, and can be made, taken apart, remade and then recycled.

What you need:

  • Any firm, waste cardboard - think packing boxes. We used a sheet of cardboard that was wrapped around a box of eggs delivered recently. 
  • Something to color your cactus. Paint is probably best (poster or acrylic) but markers, crayons or pastels would obviously work too! 
  • A white paint pen. I realize that this is the one item that you may not just have lying around your home. So use a white pastel, white chalk, white paint and a fine brush? Hey, even whiteout would work :)
  • Scissors or a craft knife (to be handled by a grown up only!)
  • Some sort of planter for your new cactus, and a way to ground it. Think stones, sand, shredded paper etc. We used batting (the stuff you use to stuff pillows) and some stones. 

Disclosure: I did not invent this tutorial! We were inspired by Anachicuca.


Draw different-sized cactus leaves onto your cardboard. You don't need to worry about drawing the slits. I only did that to make sure that I made the base of each leaf wide enough to accommodate a future slit.


If you're using paint, this is fun opportunity for kids to play with color mixing. My daughter thinks it's magic that reddish browns and black can help create deep greens.

See?? How luscious is that color??


Get painty!  I chose to have her get one side painted before cutting out all the shapes. If you can do this, it's a good way to reduce mess.


Cut out all the shapes and paint the other side.


Exercise patience. This is probably the hardest part, so give them something else to do while they wait for everything to dry!


This was the step Ms R was most excited about - drawing all sorts of designs and patterns on the cactus leaves. Use ours for inspiration or make up your own patterns!


Cut 1-2 cm slits in the leaves. Start really narrow and test one before you cut any of the others to make sure you get a snug fit, and that you've cut a long enough slit. Do I sound like someone who I learned from a mistake I made? Yup. 


Construct your cactus and pop it into its new home. And that's it!

I'd love to see YOUR creations! If you're on Instagram and you make one of these, please tag @refabbed. Or share a pic of your cactus in the comments below.  :)

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  1. That looks awesome.. Very realistic without the nasty prickers...and kudos on the bubble wrap as a protective use, I keep some for that purpose too!


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