Faux Fern

My favorite kind of houseplant – a paper one!

A faux fern made of paper is impossible to over or under water | suzerspace

I really enjoyed making those paper cactus plants – partly because I like 3-d paper crafting, and partly because it’s hard for me to keep indoor plants alive. I’ll blame the northern exposure of my home (too shady in most windows), but really, it’s me. I’m very likely to over- or under- water plants.

So after I made those two desert dwellers, I decided to go the completely opposite direction and go for something more lush – a fern.

I’ve said it before – I’m just stunned by the availability of free cutting patterns online. Some are better than others, but it’s great to not have to reinvent the wheel every time I start a project. I found my fern file here.

Frond drawing for a faux fern

After I downloaded their file, I made a few adjustments. I added a little bit of length to the bottom so I’d have a more substantial “tail” to work with in my final assembly.

After choosing a few variations of green paper from my stash, I sent the first sheet to cut.

Cutting file for a faux fern

After weeding, I discovered a problem. The paper I wanted to use (the only paper stock I have that is green) wasn’t thick enough to bend gracefully like a fern frond. It just flopped over. Not in a cool fern-like way. In a sad, nearly dead plant way. Oh wait – did I just invent a new category of paper plants? 😉

On to plan B – double up the fronds. To get the thickness I wanted and the dimension it would need to look more real, I used two cutouts – one flipped over so the curves matched. I curled the individual leaves using my fingers, being sure to make the two versions be opposite so that I got full dimension from this trick. I used a thick line of glue just down the spine of the fronds, which let the little leaves still be curly, and the combination of the double thick spine plus the heavy glue gave me the bulk I needed for this too look good.

Paper Fern fronds for the faux fern
Close up of the doubled up fern fronds with curled leaves.

Assured I had a plan, I sent the rest of my sheets to cut. Toward the end, I resized a few fronds to give the plant a more natural look, making sure to cut pairs of anything I designed.

I switched up the colors of the top and bottom cutouts to give the plant more variation, and bent and glued them as I described above.

For final assembly, I played with the fronds until I found an arrangment that worked, and then used clear packing tape to group them all together at the bottom. I then wrapped a length of floral wire around that a few times, and then dropped that wire down into a toilet paper tube  which I cut a hole in near the bottom. I threaded the end of that wire out through that hole and twisted it so it wouldn’t come free easily. This construction doesn’t really result in a heavily anchored plant – if I was going to put this in a more high traffic area I’d have to rethink this part.

I dropped the whole assembly into a tall pot, and then filled around it with crumpled strips of grocery bag for the “dirt”. I used a few smaller accordian folded strips to cover the toilet paper tube so it isn’t visible.

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