A thoughtful plant display can add freshness and light to your home’s interior, and an original design makes your flora especially unique. While you could easily paint a set of terracotta planters, a more creative, more structured upcycle will help your display stand out even more. Consider using balsa wood and twine to craft a set of geometric planters—perfect to showcase your collection of pretty (and prickly) succulents. In fact, a trio of small cacti gets a total makeover with this simple tutorial, which guides you through building a mid-century-inspired balsa wood woven frame for each terracotta pot. While little crafters can definitely help with indoor craft, it does require the use of a sharp craft knife and unfinished wood, so the majority of the action is best left to the adults here.
Equipment / Tools
- Craft knife
- Hot glue gun
- Sharp pair of scissors
- Cutting mat
- 3 Terracotta plant pots
- 25 feet String or twine
- Balsa wood scraps
Measure and Cut Balsa Wood
Measure the diameter of your terracotta pots just under the lip, and trim 8 pieces of balsa wood to that length. These bits will form the top and bottom frames for each plant holder, so double-check that your pot can slip in and out easily before gluing anything together. Next, trim four more lengths of balsa to give your plant holder height. To make a perfect cube, use the pot’s diameter for the height of your planter, but don’t hesitate to go higher or lower for a more interesting arrangement. Repeat for the other two wooden stands (if you are indeed making a set of three planters).
Carve Notches for the String
Mark the top and bottom sections of balsa wood every inch or so with the pencil. Using the craft knife, carefully carve notches at each pencil mark. To make notches (as opposed to full cuts), slice in at a slight angle to just the middle of the balsa wood, then meet that cut from its opposite angle. You’ll carve a small triangle into your wood, which you can then adjust. Use the back of the blade of the craft knife to deepen and widen the notches as needed. Use a gentle touch, however, as the balsa wood is quite delicate and can break easily.
Build the Planters
Use a dab of hot glue to attach the notched lengths of balsa to each other to form two same-sized squares for the top and bottom of the planter. Attach the top and bottom squares with the un-notched lengths of balsa. Repeat for each planter to form cubes (or rectangular prisms). Try varying the height of each planter by an inch or two for a more interesting cluster. Use the craft knife to clean up any dried hot glue at the joints of your frames.
Weave the String
Using the notches as guides, weave the string from top to bottom, crisscrossing as you desire to create an interesting pattern. Use a tiny dot of hot glue to secure the ends of the string to the interior (unseen) part of the frame, and trim any excess with a sharp pair of scissors.
Add the Terracotta Pots
Gently place the terracotta plant pots into the balsa wood frames. To update the project or better coordinate your planters with your home, you can paint the terracotta pots with a quick coat of spray paint and a clear topcoat. Be sure to do all spray painting in a well-ventilated area (or even outdoors).
Plant one small succulent, or any other easy-care plant, into each pot. Be sure every pot has a drainage hole at its base, and add plenty of soil to keep your plant secure. Give them a light watering and let them drain before displaying.
Place your plants on a window sill, kitchen table, or other sunny area for maximum natural appeal. These beautiful geometric planters are best shown off in groups of three, and can absolutely be updated for each season (think: a coat of paint, a different weaving pattern, or even a bit of metallic hardware).