DIY: Paper Maché Succulent Garden


Does the wilting monstera plant in the corner of your living room keep you up at night? Is photosynthesis your least favorite word in the dictionary? Has your green thumb been ignoring your calls for the past year and a half? If the answer is yes, don't despair, your days of dying plants are over! With a beautiful, super easy to make DIY paper maché succulent garden, you may never have to touch a watering can again. (That is unless you're recycling into a cool found object sculpture...for instance as a pot for your new paper plants!) We featured this in issue #4: The Grow Issue. Just for you, we've expanded the steps in full, glorious, step-by-step photographic detail. Enjoy!

Paper Maché Succulent Garden

Here's everything you need: 
-stack of old newspapers
-mod podge (or your own paper maché glue recipe!) 
-a large bowl
-masking tape
-aluminum foil
-colorful paper
-paint brushes
-acrylic or tempera paint
-terra cotta pots, or any kind of small container for your plants
-tissue paper
-a tablecloth or more newspapers to keep your table clean, this project is messy! 
-optional: blow dryer, for faster drying time!

Step 1 - Mold the aluminum foil into plant like shapes. The masking tape can be helpful for keeping your sculpture in place. 


Step 2 - Cut your newspaper into 1 - 2 inch strips. You're going to need a lot of it, so don't be afraid to cut up a whole stack! (Just make sure everyone is done reading it first!) 


Step 3 - Dip a newspaper strip into the mod podge. Use two fingers to squeeze off the extra glue. Pro tip: You just want to cover your entire strip in a thin layer of 'podge. If you're strips are too wet, you're sculpture will be very soggy and won't hold up. Too little, and it won't stick to the aluminum. 

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Step 4 - Tightly wrap the newspaper strips around your aluminum shapes. The tighter you wrap around, the more your sculpture will stay true to it's original form and not get too lumpy. Cover your shapes completely three times around.

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Step 5 - Lay out your wet, wrapped shapes on a piece of newspaper to dry overnight or simply blow dry!


Step 6 - Once dry, paint your succulents and pots to your heart's content! You can also glue on bits of paper for embellishments. I used Sakura's Pen Touch Markers to add on details, they're so much fun to use. 


Step 7- Put your plants in your pots with some tissue paper as "dirt" to keep them in place. And voilà, it's your own paper maché garden! At long last, your green thumb can come out of hiding. 

This DIY activity is featured in Illustoria's Issue 4 — The Grow Issue! This issue is chalk full of amazing projects, stories, and comics and it's available at your local bookstore or our online store





Drawing Contest! Win a signed book + original art by Martin Cendreda

Contest page in Issue 4: The Grow Issue. Enter to win  An Apple and an Adventure  and a piece of original art. 

Contest page in Issue 4: The Grow Issue. Enter to win An Apple and an Adventure and a piece of original art. 


Do you have a copy of ILLUSTORIA issue 4: The Grow Issue? If so, you can enter our drawing contest for a chance to win a signed copy of An Apple and An Adventure PLUS a piece of original art by the talented illustrator-animator-storyboard artist-comic book maker-author Martin Cendreda!

All you or your creative little one will need to do:

1. Draw what you think will grow in the empty space on the page (pictured above). Bonus points for creating a ditty for the cave girl to sing!

2. Send a photo or scan of your artwork to

Contest runs from May 01, 2017 to July 15, 2017. (Deadline has just been extended so don't delay!) We will choose a winner on/around July 15, 2017. (For further details, see our contest rules.)

Here's a look at Martin's comic, "Seed Songs," which appears in Illustoria: The Grow Issue.


This adorable comic was inspired by the characters in his new book, An Apple and An Adventure, published by Boom! Studios. In this engaging book that grownups will enjoy just as much as little ones learning their ABCs, a cave girl and her triceratops set out on an adventure from A to Z and make new friends along the way. They meet all sorts of characters including galloping goliaths, nine newts, petite plesiosaurs, and more. Martin creates a fantastical landscape that will have everyone poring over the details--large and small, simple yet other-worldly. It's a total joy to read so don't miss out on this opportunity to get a signed copy + an original piece of art!

From Boom! Studios:  An Apple and An Adventure  uses rhyme and the ABCs to create an engaging world of wonder that's both educational and fun. 

From Boom! Studios: An Apple and An Adventure uses rhyme and the ABCs to create an engaging world of wonder that's both educational and fun. 


Martin was kind enough to give us a behind-the-scenes look at the making of this book. Read all about his fascinating process sketching, developing, and creating his book here

So don't delay. Get out your copy of IllustoriaThe Grow Issue, color and draw to your wild imagination's content on our contest page, and send in your entry here!

We look forward to seeing what you come up with. Good luck!!

The Grow Issue: A Cover Comes to Life


We couldn't be more excited to announce that Issue #4 has arrived from the printer! The contents of The Grow Issue are as rich and teeming with life as the cover. I'll share more about all the amazing writers, artists, and makers who contributed to this issue soon. But for today I'd love to highlight the wonderful artist behind this cover and the making of it. 

Fave local artist and watercolorist extraordinaire Lindsay Stripling graces our cover with her lovely art depicting the flowers and insects that she remembers from long days spent playing in her grandparents' backyard in Lafayette during her childhood, and the flourishing flora she finds in Northern California. Lindsay is a master of her craft, who paints dreamy tableaus of scenes set in folk and fairytale worlds from her imagination. She tells us that the best way to tackle her paintings is to allow for mistakes, since they are impossible to avoid. As soon she messes something up, she just turns it into something else. Find her awe-inspiring work here. You'll also find Lindsay's gorgeous watercolors in another spot in this issue, accompanying our illustrated story A Brief History of Ultramarine Blue written by Alexis Joseph, pigment expert and founder of the swoon-worthy art supplies shop Case for Making in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco. 

Here's a look at Lindsay's issue 4 cover sketch, already so beautiful:


We knew we wanted the flora and fauna to contrast against a black background. Our creative director, Elizabeth Haidle, came up with this nuanced coloring of the masthead against black:


 Lindsay's final art in place with a mock cover design:


As much as we loved the simplicity of this cover, we knew we'd want to accommodate callouts for our delectable main features, so Lindsay filled out the space with added pea tendrils. We also included lettering so the plants could be identified on the back cover. 

And so...the final cover!


Elizabeth designed and illustrated the back cover to beautifully compliment Lindsay's art and the theme of nature and the outdoors, introducing the legend for curious kids (and grownups) to pore over. 


We hope you love how this cover turned out and the entire contents of this issue as much as we do! Find out more about all the goodies in issue 4, which includes contributions from creative duo Lisa Brown and Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket); an essay on the making of The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, author of The Curious Garden; an inspiring, illustrated Q & Artist interview with illustrator Diana Sudyka; a new Literary Giants as Kids comic featuring Mark Twain; stories, art, DIY, and activities galore. Click here to see our full table of contents and a few spreads from The Grow Issue. Enjoy!