Tuesday, August 26, 2014

100% Upcycled Project #1: Cacti and Succulent Still Life: Kitschy Planter DIY

I'm starting a new project. Determined to stretch anti-consumerism and art muscles, I'm challenging myself to make something new out of objects and supplies I already own every day.  Using what I already have or can obtain from friends is a fun and money-saving way to make life colorful and creative. Today I unveil Project #1: My my first (and not last) 100% Upcycled Cacti and Succulent mix Planter.

[Photo above is from Instagram. Follow me there to see my creative projects in real-time. ]

Supplies, Pre-Owned: white aquarium gravel, homemade cacti soil mix, purple succulent, grey vintage planter, toy
Supplies, Gifted: Cacti and succulent babies from my mom's grown plants.

The Supply's Previous Sad Lives ]

1) I had perfectly good previous mixed cacti soil mix in a planter covered with gravel on kitchen windowsill! It once housed a plant but after I moved it I just used it to hold up my incense sticks while they burned.
2) More dirt was in a big green planter on the windowsill in my office, holding just one sad little purple succulent! All by himself save for his "plant-type" Pokemon toy-friends (gifts from my friend, Birdie). 3) I noticed the succulents and cacti outgrowing tiny pots/jars they were being rooted in at my mom's house.
4) The gray planter was a $1 (or less) flea market score, sat empty in a merchandise box.

Cacti and Succulent Note ] Cacti and succulents  like sandy, well-draining soil and full sunlight. They're hard to kill and grow slowly, making them good starter plants. They're an interior design favorite because you can even fit them in quirky non-planters, like teacups. Their simple, sculptural shapes are inspiring to a designer's eye. I have a post on how to plant your vintage planters with succulents/cacti without killing your precious plant-children here.

My diminutive still life sits on my computer desk and makes me happy when I glance at it throughout the work day. I'm excited to make more plant compositions in the house- somehow without paying a dime along the way. I adore plants, this casa needs to feel like a jungle since I can't get my ass back to gorgeous Puerto Rico (oh Waterfall, Private Island, and Colorful Neighborhoods, muses, all) I'll make one here. It's so satisfying to use what I have for creative solutions versus rushing to the nearest store for a quick-and-generic fix! As a bonus, my cat no longer tries to dig out my succulents with the sharp cacti there to "protect" them.

Join the 100% Upcycled Project:Let's make amazing transformations out of what we already own. Simply:

1) Use items/supplies you already have in your possession to OR
2) Use what your friends/families have. This is all about avoiding retail and realizing and utilizing the abundant resources and community around us. Curbsides/dived finds work, but no buying from Thrifts.
3) Set a schedule. I'm trying for daily (for now!) Yours can be weekly or monthly.
4) Keep it simple. It can be daily drawings using paper and art supplies you already now or something more ambitious. It can be as easy as making a gallery wall out of dusty framed art in the garage.
5) Have Fun! Share the photos with me via e-mail or social media, or link your posts about the products in the blog posts. I may even blog about your creations, anyone interested in me making a Flickr group or other social media group where we can share projects?

Creativity needs limitations to thrive, otherwise the daunting array of selections keeps you from making. Using what we have is the perfect creative constraint; environment and wallet friendly.

Would you prefer weekly updates on my daily DIY projects? How about just spotlights? Or Both? How about a social media group where we can share our upcycled projects? Let me know!
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Excited to make more stuff. Made a halter top out a shirt yesterday. What to make today..hmm.. :D

  2. Love the finished product. More people should reuse things that they own rather than buying new all the time :)

    1. Thanks Gina, agreed! Hope the project will raise awareness, the average North American has LOADS of stuff sitting unused to play with.

  3. I only have one succulent but it is currently shooting off little arms looking for new homes. Part of the plant died off though. Just turned mushy one day. And no, I am not overwatering. I try and stay away from it. These are cutey petooty!

  4. Thanks! As a consolation, even the best gardeners accidentally kill a plant-child every now-and-then. My tallest one in the arrangement had two mushy parts I removed, I think I left it rooting in a jar too long.

  5. I love the pokemon figurine! Perfect touch!! :)

    1. Thank you, Bulbasaur is my favorite out of the three starter types. And a plant type for bonus points :D

  6. Way to go Van, fabulous Idea and fun. Although I did buy a belt from an op shop recently for one dollar, I had been in search of a bag for an event this weekend. After wasting much time trying to find a "perfect bag" in an op shop, I drove home determined not to waste time or money searching any longer. The belt made a bag I had at home perfect. I blogged about it yesterday.

    1. Oh, gonna check that out. Living the cheap life is so rewarding that way, feels much more accomplished than just buying a bag!

  7. Looks really neat, I wanna do something similar. Cactus are so cuteeee!

    1. Yes indeed, agreed on that. I need ALL the plants. :D

  8. So cute! It looks great next to that lamp!

    1. Thank you. :D I moved it to my desk, it's inspiring me and drinking up sunshine right here in front of me.

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