Cactus Matchbox Diorama I


The first time I attempted doing a matchbox diorama was through a swap on swap-bot 2 or 3 years ago. I remember making a mini television and filling it with all things purple, pink and sparkly. Thinking back, it sounds awfully bubblegum pop. I am obsessed with miniatures, so it’s no surprise that I enjoy making dioramas and decorating them. My dream house would be filled with miniatures hidden in every nook and cranny, waiting to be discovered by my guests! I’m really excited to share this simple matchbox diorama tutorial, but it’s long winded, so I will be splitting it up into two posts.

Today’s post is all about making mini cactuses and I made use of the following materials:

  • Polymer clay
  • A nail dotting tool
  • Nail polish or acrylic paint
  • Small caps from used tubes
  • White glue


I made my clay green by mixing shaved down green chalk pastels into it. My matchbox is around 3″ by 2″, so make sure your cactuses are much smaller in size. To make the cactus, roll up a small ball and slowly roll the sides into a bean shape!


Roll another two small balls into a pill shape, these are for the arms. Attach both arms to the side, you will need to use your finger to mould the end of the arm into the body. Just be gentle and patient in smoothing out the lines. Make sure that it’s completely seamless!


Lastly, you need to push the stiff arms up and there you have it, a cactus! Now, pop this in the oven to bake as instructed for your brand of clay. It should be as hard as a rock when it’s ready.


Now, we are not going to be doing a realistic looking cactus with spiky thorns. Instead we will be adding polka dots to represent the thorns! A little yayoi kusama inspired, perhaps? Get ready your nail polish and nail dotting tool, you can easily substitute these with paint and a toothpick as well.



Start off with a tiny drop of white nail polish and use your chosen dotting tool to start dotting the cactus.


Finish up one side and let it dry before starting on the back. It’s fine if you choose not to do the back too because you wouldn’t be able to see it when it’s sitting in the matchbox.


Next, get your cap from any used tube (for example; a toothpaste tube, a mini travel lotion bottle cap, an antiseptic tube). Remember to wash the caps clean and dry before applying glue! Bust out your glue and apply around the rims of the cap. I used E600 glue, but white glue would suffice honestly. I chose E600 as it was conveniently lying around. I hate how smelly it is! Plus it says on the backing that it can cause cancer, why the hell am I still using it?!


Hold your breathe in and push the cactus tightly into the cap. Leave the sucker in to dry for a couple of hours.


And boom girl, you got yourself some baby cactuses to fawn over! Hold onto them till we get to part II!