Behind the Art: Super Mario Themed Lighted Ceramic Cactus

I love Super Mario Brothers games. I used to fight with my younger brothers over the Super Nintendo. One of my favorites was Super Mario Brothers 3. The desert levels were always so challenging. The angry sun would chase me and frustrate me to no end! When I moved to Arizona, I was fascinated by the desert landscape. I love how each cactus is unique. 


Every year since I started selling my light up cacti, I try to experiment with them. One year, I did a pink cactus. Another year, I experimented with adding purple and turquoise into the mix of greens. This year, I thought I'd try painting some elements by hand like I do my embellishments. In keeping with my recent gaming themed trend, I wanted to do something Super Mario themed. I thought of the Pokey cacti in the games.


Initially, I tried to modify a ceramic cactus into a Pokey by using clay, but had a hard time getting the clay to stick to the ceramic. After trying to make it work, I scrapped the idea... for now.

Attempt 1: Adding clay to the unfinished ceramic cacti.


I then thought I'd try painting directly on the cactus. I painted the whole cactus in shades of blue first. Then it was time to add some Mario flavor. I started with a Pokey, and loved how it turned out. Since it's been several years since I've played Super Mario 3, I did some googling into the desert Mario levels. Summer is here in Phoenix, so the angry sun seemed like an obvious addition. It perfectly symbolizes how I feel about the summer sun here. I'm always dodging it and hanging out indoors in the air conditioning. I thought the cacti needed more though, so I added a few more creatures. 

Attempt 2: Hand painted background with a Pokey. 


For my next cactus, I decided that I would pour the background. I used shades of blue and white. Then I added the same Mario flavor for this piece. I added Pokeys, the sun, a spiny shell, and more. I loved how this piece came out. It's much more interesting than just hand painting the background.

Third time's the charm! A poured background creates a more interesting appearance than just hand painting the background.


My next experiment might be a sunset cactus with mountains. I'm thinking of the mountain ranges around Phoenix... hmm.


The original piece is now available online! Shop Super Mario Themed Lighted Ceramic Cactus now.