How to Make Fake Cattails

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Cattails are entirely edible and were widely used by Native Americans.
Cattails are entirely edible and were widely used by Native Americans. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Cattails are tall, stalk-like plants that are found near marshy wet lands, lakes and ponds. They grow on tall, stiff stems with leaves that resemble long blades of grass. The flower of the cattail consists of two parts; the female part is a brown, fuzzy, cylindrical-shaped flower, while the male portion (the stamen) is a yellow spike. These unique plants are often used for ornamental purposes, but can be very messy as they disintegrate while drying. Crafting a fake cattail is relatively easy and inexpensive.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/4 inch wooden dowel (as long as you'd like)
  • Floral tape
  • Fake leaves (3 to 6 long, blade-like leaves)
  • Mini foam paint-trimmer re-fills (6 1/2 inch)
  • Wooden shish-kabob skewers
  • Small paint brush
  • Sea sponge
  • Water-based latex paint (pale yellow and three shades of amber-brown)
  • Craft glue
  • Wire cutters
  • Scissors
  • Steak knife

Create the cattail stalk by wrapping the wooden dowel in floral tape. About a third of the way up the dowel, begin to attach the leaves, staggering them as you wind your way around the stem. If the leaves are not sticking with the tape, additional reinforcing with craft glue will be required; the leaves are very long and weighty.

Prepare the flower by painting the foam trimmer with the darkest of the three browns using a small paint brush. If you desire to reshape the foam, do so prior to painting. Allow it to dry. Apply a second coat of paint using a sponge to add dimension to the flower. Do this by blotching the paint rather than applying an even coat. Let this dry completely before adding the final, lightest coat of paint in the same manner.

Sea sponges work wonderfully for a variety of painting projects.
Sea sponges work wonderfully for a variety of painting projects. (Image: Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Use the steak knife to cut the wooden skewer to measure approximately 3 inches in length. Paint it yellow, and let it dry.

Assemble the cattail by applying a small amount of craft glue onto the tip of your stem and inserting it into the open end of the foam filler (the flower). Gently place the yellow skewer into the top of the flower, leaving about 2 inches exposed.

Tips & Warnings

  • With a sturdy stalk crafted of wood, these ornamental plants perform best in a large vase or tall pots. If you prefer a more pliable stem, you might consider fake floral stems, which have a wire base.
  • Use a water-based paint on the foam. Spray paint, which would be much more convenient, contains a petroleum-based propellant that causes the foam to disintegrate.

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