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updated: 6/13/2017 8:31 AM

Turn pinecones, paper and felt into faux succulent plants

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  • This June 7, 2017 photo shows a collection of faux succulent plants surrounding the real thing in Hopkinton, N.H. While the drought-resistant plants are popular as home decor, they can be hard to raise indoors without a lot of light, making fake versions a crafty alternative.

    This June 7, 2017 photo shows a collection of faux succulent plants surrounding the real thing in Hopkinton, N.H. While the drought-resistant plants are popular as home decor, they can be hard to raise indoors without a lot of light, making fake versions a crafty alternative.
    Associated Press

  • This June 7, 2017, photo in Hopkinton, N.H, shows a faux succulent plant fashioned from a bit of felt. While it won't fool the eye, it makes a cute decoration, perhaps as an end-of-the-year teacher gift.

    This June 7, 2017, photo in Hopkinton, N.H, shows a faux succulent plant fashioned from a bit of felt. While it won't fool the eye, it makes a cute decoration, perhaps as an end-of-the-year teacher gift.
    Associated Press

  • This June 7, 2017 photo shows painted paper that forms the leaves of this faux succulent plant shown in Hopkinton, N.H.

    This June 7, 2017 photo shows painted paper that forms the leaves of this faux succulent plant shown in Hopkinton, N.H.
    Associated Press

  • This June 7, 2017 photo shows a trio of faux succulents lining a picket fence in Hopkinton, N.H. From left to right, the pots hold artificial plants made from felt, a pinecone and painted paper.

    This June 7, 2017 photo shows a trio of faux succulents lining a picket fence in Hopkinton, N.H. From left to right, the pots hold artificial plants made from felt, a pinecone and painted paper.
    Associated Press

 
 

CONCORD, N.H. -- Not only am I without a green thumb, but I have a black cat that nibbles on anything vaguely leafy that enters my home. Might faux succulent plants be the way to go?

Real succulents - drought-resistant plants with thick stems and leaves that sometimes resemble squat, miniature cabbages - are super trendy, but they're not necessarily easy to raise indoors in limited light. A few that I salvaged from a flower arrangement in February survived being planted in small pots, but soon grew unattractively leggy due to lack of sun. So I turned to fake varieties, trying out three techniques for making succulent plants out of paper, felt and pinecones.

None of them would pass for the real thing, and I wouldn't have the patience to make a dozen of them for a centerpiece or to adorn a wreath. Still, each had its own charm, and as one-offs, might make cute end-of-school-year gifts for a favorite teacher.

Here's what I found, with each method rated from 1 to 10, with 10 indicating the least expensive, easiest and best results:

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PAPER

Following a tutorial on Craftberry Bush blog (http://bit.ly/2s00WuO ), I painted several sheets of cardstock with shades of light green paint, and then cut out a variety of leaf shapes using a template downloaded from the website. The tutorial calls for using thick cardstock with the texture of handmade paper. I used standard, smooth cardstock that I had on hand, but crumpled it up a bit while the paper was still damp to make it more pliable and give it a bit of texture.

While I enjoyed painting the paper, assembling the plant was challenging. The instructions call for rolling up a rectangle of cardstock to make a stem and then gluing individual leaves to it, but holding everything in place was tricky. The result looks cute in a little pot, but the thin paper doesn't much resemble succulent leaves. Using thicker cardstock or handmade paper would have helped, though that also would add to the cost.

COST: 8

EASE: 5

RESULTS: 6

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FELT

I have a soft spot for felt, which I've used to make a variety of faux foods for my son when he was little, plus many Christmas ornaments and decorations over the years. For this project, I followed a tutorial (http://bit.ly/2szvgte ) on a blog associated with the craft company Super + Super.

While the instructions call for printing and cutting out patterns for leaves and then pinning them to felt, I found it easier to just hold the pattern in place while I cut. I didn't worry about being particularly precise, given that actual leaves aren't identical. The site includes templates for several varieties of succulents; I chose one that included an extra step of cutting a slit in each leaf, allowing them to curve a bit.

This project was fairly easy, involving just cutting out the leaves and gluing them to a square base of felt. The result is more whimsical than realistic, but I think a few of them arranged in a shallow box would provide a nice decorative touch to a mantel or side table.

COST: 7

EASE: 7

RESULTS: 7

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PINECONES:

This version would have been the easiest, if I had the right tools. I followed a tutorial (http://bit.ly/2rPTQYM ) on a blog called Running With Sisters, which used this technique to make a pretty wreath decorated with the faux plants.

This method involves cutting pinecones in half and painting them to resemble succulents. My problem was I had neither a handsaw nor a pruning shears to cut the pinecones, and cutting them with an old pair of scissors was a messy, difficult job. Covering every bit of the "leaves" with paint took some time, but the result is probably the most realistic, given that the pinecone petals have a thickness and shape similar to succulent leaves.

Rainy weather kept me from collecting pinecones outside, so I purchased some at a craft store, but had I gone the natural route, this version would have been the cheapest, too.

COST: 9

EASE: 6

RESULTS: 8

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