Saturday, December 11, 2010

Feliz Navidad!

Aka - How to make a duct tape cactus wreath.

I know quite well that no one will have a use for this craft, but I'm from Texas & I deeply miss it especially at the holidays. As such, I decided to make something that reminded me of home (South Texas), something that's uniquely Texan & that I wouldn't see at the local Evil Empire for $3 made in China! Thus I hit upon the idea of a Nopale wreath - or more correctly for me: a nopalitos wreath.

Nopale is the Spanish word for a Prickly Pear cactus leaf, usually indicating its in an edible form. I wouldn't advise you chop it up for the fruit & put it in your salsa or soup, but I think it came out looking pretty good for no pattern & no plan outside of "Can I really make one of those?" & "Ooooh, sounds like White Trash Craft time!!".

The answer to that question, and I'm learning EVERY question in life, is DUCT TAPE!! :D

Step 1:

Duct tape in (AT LEAST) green, white & red

Plastic shopping bags

Pen/Pencil/Marker to draw out a Nopale leaf

*OPTIONAL* Stiff paper or card for making a Nopale leaf pattern, I free handed most of them, only using my pattern 2 times.

SHARP Scissors

Nopales have yellow flowers & their pears have been seen in reds, oranges and yellows as well as a light pink color so run with it!

Step 2:

Make a duct tape fabric sheet. Complete instructions can be found here. You're going to want a sheet at least 12 inches long, and a minimum of 8 inches high to have plenty of leaf area to work with.

Step 3:

Time to put on your shopping bags! You can wad them up, ball them up, fluff them a bit with air, whatever you want to do with them. Make sure that you leave about 1/4" of tape on the outside of each edge to give you enough edge to tape your next sheet down to. Duct tape bonds best with itself!

Step 4:

Lay another fabric duct tape sheet on top of your bags. Make sure to cover the sticky edges to the best of your ability

If it isn't all covered that's okay, but the glue of the tape will make cutting much harder if the scissors are constantly exposed to 1 sticky side.

Step 5:

Now its time to draw your Nopales! If you're making a pattern, trace it on & cut it out for use. If you're free handing it, go with the gusto!

I tried to place 2 leaves per cutting area to make as many leaves with as little waste as I could. If you don't think you can get 2, that's okay. You may just need to repeat some of the steps.

Step 6:

Now get to cutting! Cut 1, then make the next drawing or fill the whole sheet with leaves & cut out all at once. Totally up to you.

Step 7:

Taking a small strip of green, wrap the cut edge. Overlap the pieces to ensure full coverage. When you're done you'll have 1 nopalito leaf.

Step 8:

Now you've got several (I got 9) leaves of different sizes. That's exactly what you need! If you have more that's fine. If you have less, you may need to repeat the previous steps to get enough to make a wreath shape.

This is a rough mock-up of what the wreath will look like when done. If you don't like the shape now, CHANGE IT. Tinker with it, move the pieces around. Get it to where you like it then take a few small pieces of green (an inch or so square is plenty) and tack them together.

Once you've got the wreath shape you like, you're going to tape it together. I flipped mine over (after tacking with a few small pieces of green) & taped it together well. You won't see the back so it isn't as important to keep it perfectly clean & pretty but don't go overboard.

Step 9:

Time to make your pears! They're simple. Take a piece of red (or other color of your choice) about 4 inches long. Take a small piece of waste pear sheet (or plastic bag, or even duct tape) & roll it into a ball. It doesn't have to be perfectly round, you're going for a natural effect and nothing in nature is perfect.

As you can see I use as much of the duct tape as possible, even the "trash" pieces from previous steps & projects.

Fold your pear color over the waste piece (or whatever core material you've chosen to use).

Fold & wrap your pear a little at a time, until you end up with roughly a diamond or pear or even tear drop shape. Feel free to add extra layers of tape if you want to make sure its totally smooth looking.

Now add your fringe (if you want to). Take a strip of white about 2 inches long & tear it in half down the center length so you have 2 long, narrow strips. Now fold one of the strips over, leave about 1/8" of glue along the bottom.

Next you want to make it into fringy petals. Cut from the folded edge, down to the glue line. You don't want to cut all the way to the bottom, only to where the glue is to ensure that you have something to bond the fringe to the pear with.

Size it down to your pear's head & tape so that the small strip of glue is below the top of your pear, providing a 3D look but hiding the back of the tape strip. Repeat for as many pears as you want to make. Cactus have anywhere from 1 to 5 (sometimes more) pears per bunch per leaf. I went with 1, 2, & 3 pear bunches.

Step 10: (*OPTIONAL*)

Now you want to use your permanent markers to draw in your prickles. Just make 2-3 quick flicks per area to mimic the needles. You can go back in with a darker color (or lighter) and draw in a few circles to make your cactus look more authentic.

I've taped all my pieces together, but you could also use a hot glue gun or contact cement to bond the leaves & pears.

TADA! You've got a finished, embellished Prickly Pear Cactus wreath! Good job!

Not that I expect many people to have a use for this craft, but I had fun making it & I hope you have fun if you give it a try. It makes a great decoration for your door or your wall or just wherever you want to stick it.

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