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Monday, 15 August 2016

How to Make Miniature Cattails or Bullrushes

Above are the contents of this very limited edition kit: 3 polymer clay cattail heads, 3 stems, and 5 paper twist ties. The kit will be available at Camp MiniHaHa, by request. (It is quite inexpensive!)

You will need to supply: tacky-type glue; green and/or yellow/tan paint (I used blended shades of Ceramcoat Leaf Green and Americana Wasabi Green); scissors; paint brush; matte or satin varnish; vase, tub or landscape to plant the cattails in.

Step 1: Glue polymer clay heads to stems, leaving a 3 mm/3/32" piece of wire sticking out at the top. The stems are already cut at different heights for variation, but feel free to trim some more if you want.

Step 2: Cut a small piece (different sizes) off each twist tie (twist ties are thin wires sandwiched between paper, and are becoming difficult to find; most of them are plastic these days).

Step 3: Shape the twist ties using scissors; cut a "planting" point on one end, taper to the other end of the twist tie, as above. Garbage and small offcuts included for clarity.

Step 4: Paint leaves on both sides; I put a dab of two colours on a paint tray, and mix them to create colour variations for each leaf - subtle but realistic. If your cattails will be planted, they should be more green in colour; if they will be displayed in a vase, the leaves should be yellow/tan to appear dried. Allow paint to dry.

Step 5: Paint both sides of leaves with matte or satin varnish, and allow to dry.

Step 6: Planted version - place 3 cattails in centre, and place leaves around them. The wires in the leaves allow them to be gently bent to look more realistic.
             Cattails in vase - you may have to trim the leaves and stems to fit into your vase.

There it is. Does it make sense? The instructions for the kits will be printed only, with a single photo of the finished cattails as above. People will be able to access the blog to look at the "in progress" photos.

These cattails can be used in gardens, water gardens or ponds, or as dried cattails in a floor vase in room settings.

The polymer clay cattail heads are made by pushing a stem through a 1/4" or 6 mm ball of dark brown. Shape gently by rolling between your fingers. I rolled them with a woodworking file to get a little bit of texture on them. Bake on the stems at the temperature specified by the clay manufacturer for 20 mins (I used Fimo Classic Terra Cotta.) The heads will slide off the stems and will need to be glued on.

I have misplaced a small landscape using cattails, but as soon as I find it, I'll re-post it. I think I may have posted it sometime in the past.


  1. The cattails look great. It is getting next to impossible to find paper twist ties these days but I suppose if push came to shove one could make their own by sandwiching a very fine wire between two thin strips of paper. I'll be sure to check out the kits at Camp next month! - Marilyn D.

  2. I like your cattails too! :D


  3. Okay, so I know your thriftiness will probably cringe at actually paying for paper twist ties, but they ARE available via Staples Canada... A box of 2000 4-inch paper-covered twist ties - you can select what colour, and green is an option. If they don't have them in your local store, then it looks like you can buy them online.'dropdown_686997'

    The product photo does not appear to be paper - they actually used the same product photo for an entirely different produce - vinyl covered twist ties (which don't come in green, apparently.)

  4. Good to know! I actually paid for the ones I have, bought them from Scoop 'n Save years ago. Sobey's also sold me a handful, once upon a time, when they still carried them. How do you know about paper twist ties at Staples, anyways?

    1. I did a Google search for paper twist ties after reading your post, because I like to be helpful that way? :)