Making Your Own Potted Plant Monster

As promised, here is the “Making Your Own Potted Plant Monster” post.  Or at least make something that somewhat resembles a potted plant monster.  Remember my disclaimer in the “How to Make Your Own Crystal Shards” post about my sculpting experience being limited to making a teddy bear in 6th grade?  Yeah, that still stands.  Unless you count the crystals which was really just rolling out clay then chipping away at clay with a knife.  Then this would be my second sculpting experience with clay.  But I figure potted plant creatures are supposed to look deformed so if I monstrously screw up I can hold my head high and proclaim, “Ahah! Perfect!”

Why bother making something with so little experience?  Customization.  It allows you to create something that would be difficult to find otherwise… say like potted plant miniatures needed up for upcoming 13th Age game. Technically the next organized play session calls for an “Animated Potted Plant”, but where’s the fun in just putting a miniature plant on the map?  Second is cost.  For the most part DIY projects are easy on your wallet.  Third is the experience.  The first couple times you try making something new it might not be perfect, but you always learn something.  Like when I told Ben this past Spring that we were going to build our own custom 10’ wide elevated planter box with a cage to keep the pesky squirrels out of my garden.  I have zero carpentry experience. Zilch.  Nada. But I still dragged Ben out to a lumber yard, bought pine boards, rented some tools, and got to building.  We built a fantastic planter box that has been the envy of all our neighbors.  Plus it kept the squirrels out.  I can’t say the same about the chipmunks.  Little buggers ate all my tomatoes.  But I learned something!  Next year we’ll use smaller chicken wire.  Or maybe put some potted plant monsters in the planter box to teach the chipmunks a lesson.

So, getting back on track –

For this project I am working with Fimo clay again.  For more detailed results I would recommend using two part modeling putty such as Green Stuff, but green stuff and I don’t get along.  Yet.  I have only used Green Stuff to fill in mold lines for purchased miniatures and each time it feels like I am working with sticky mess.  No one told me the trick was “Just add water!” so the only packet I had turned into a wad of bubblegum.  I feel that anything that has the requirement of “Just add water!” does not work well for me.  See my previous crystal shard post.


Tools!  The one tool that I would recommend is an X-Acto knife.  You do not need to go out and buy a full set of sculpting tools for this project.  If you paint your own miniatures you probably have a file set lying around somewhere to get rid of mold lines.  Those files can work well to create detail work.  Alternatively you can use something with a pointy tip like a toothpick.  Or a paper clip.  Or wire.  Open your desk drawer.  You’ll likely find something that will work.  Finally you might want to grab some cotton swabs.  A damp cotton swab is a great way to smooth out clay.  Using your fingers works just as well if you don’t mind leaving finger prints all over the place.


The last item before you get started is these little itty bitty tiny 1 ¾“ terracotta pots.  You’ll find them online or at your local craft store.  Other people like using these to create plants for fairy gardens.  You’ll be using them to create monstrous plants that want to devour your party members.


Now that you have all the items needed we can get started –

Step 1.  Watch the Little Shop of Horrors.  For research.  “Feed me, Seymour!” 


Step 2.  Using the indents in the Fimo clay as a guide cut one and a half strips of clay.  The square pack will have indents that create 8 strips of clay which make it easy to portion.  This will help keep all of your miniatures the same scale.


Step 3.  Roll the one and a half strips of clay into a ball, and then shove it into one of the terracotta pots.  About 1/3 of the clay will fill in the base of the pot.  This will support the clay while you shape the top.  If you need added support just wrap the clay around a wire.


Step 4.  Using your fingers, pinch and roll the clay to form the body of your plant.  The idea is to shape a stem and a head with a gaping mouth.  Mine came out looking more like a chorus of sock puppets.  Off to a good start.


Step 5.  Give it teeth.  There is a few ways to do this.  My way involved a lot of cussing so I will let you figure out your own way.  Trust me, it’s better this way.


Step 6.  Give it vines.  Using your knife, gently slice through one side of the stem and pull a thin piece of clay away without breaking it.  Twist and pinch the thin piece you separated until it looks like a distorted vine.  Vines will help it look more like a plant and less like a worm with teeth.


Step  7.  Give it leaves.  Starting towards the head, use your knife to make a shallow cut diagonally into the clay until you create a leaf pattern.  Then use your blade to gently lift the edges of the leaf upwards.  Alternatively you can use extra clay to shape a leaves individually and attach them to the stem.


Step 8.  Detail Work.  Using a pointy tipped tool sculpt some additional vines into the stem of your potted plant monster.


Step 9.  Carefully remove the clay from the terracotta pot.  Place on foil and bake at 230 degrees for 30 minutes.


Step 10.  Once the clay has cooled, slap on some paint then glue the terracotta pot back on.  Tada! You now have a potted plant monster.


Remember to feed it regularly.


(Sarah)    (Ben)

Making Your Own Crystal Shards

Sarah here.  Deviating from our normal blog updates I wanted to make a post about crystals.  The next Tales of 13th Age adventure, Wyrd of the Wild Wood, includes a lot of them.  Since Ben and I enjoy painting miniatures I wanted to have some crystal terrain present for our first game.  Thinking I was clever I ran out to a local craft store first thing Monday morning and bought several packets of grow your own space age crystal kits.  The powder ones that you mixed with boiling water as a kid and watched crystals grow in front of your eyes.  I rushed back home, boiled some water, followed the directions and set it aside in a plastic container for a week.  Today after I came home from work I came home to….. no crystals.  Apparently only kids get the magic growing crystals.  Adults get a giant color dye mess and stained plastic containers.  Ben, who never knew the joy of growing crystals as a kid, looked at me like I was crazy.

So…. I went to Plan B.  Plan B involved running out to a different craft store and coming back tonight with Fimo.  Fimo is a sculpting  polymer clay.  Now I suppose I should put a disclaimer here.  Not counting play-dough, the last time I worked with sculpting clay I was in sixth grade.  I made a teddy bear.  That is the extent of my sculpting skills.  Got it? Okay. Moving on.

How to Make Your Own Crystal Shards

Step 1. Buy some sculpting clay.  For this project I will be using the purple one shown here because it’s sparkly.  Crystal sparkle = good.  Vampire sparkle = bad.


Step 2. Slap the clay together in rough crystal shapes.  If you are feeling fancy use a straight edge or mold.  Bake at 230°F for 15 minutes to harden slightly.


Step 3. Cut facets into clay using a sharp tool such as a X-Acto knife.  Save the scraps.


Step 4.  Kitty break!  Everyone say hi to our cat Daniel.


Step 5. Using some more clay as a base assemble all your crystal shard pieces using whatever pattern you like.  I went to a tilt rather than star-burst.  Did you save your scraps from earlier?  Good.  Slap them onto the base to cover up that messy base job.  It’ll look like you actually spent time sculpting tiny little shards into the base.  Don’t you look clever?


Step 6.  Back in the oven!  Bake at 230°F for 30 minutes.


Step 7.  Base.  Viola!  You have yourself a nifty little crystal shard.


UPDATE! Step 8. Repeat steps 1 through 7 with as many color variations as desired.  Then hide a crystal golem in the midst.  Your party won’t know what hit them.


A block of Fimo clay costs about $2.80.  I used a quarter of a block for each crystal shard.  Not bad for 70¢.  Considering I had no idea what I was doing I’m sure your crystal shards will look even more fantastic! If you’re really feeling ambitious do this with white clay, prime, then paint.  Hope you enjoyed this little post!  😉

Next time I do a craft post I’ll show you how to make a potted plant monster with these little cute tiny terracotta pots.

(Sarah)    (Ben)