DIY Mandrake Root
I have been promising some more Harry Potter themed decoration posts since I posted the DIY Potions Bottles, and here I am delivering on the next in the series (there is more to come). One part of my Harry Potter themed house is the inclusion of a shelf out front lined with potions, ingredients and spell books. I was trying to include some recognizable Harry Potter items to set it apart for those that know the books and movies from just a ‘magic’ theme and so I decided to make my own mandrake root!
This one was fun for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that it was a fun, messy, hands-on project (I must have had to clean my workspace at least a half-dozen times throughout working on this while my husband just shook his head and walked the other way). Now, I will admit that it would have been a little less messy if a couple puppies didn’t feel the need to get involved in the process.
You Will Need:
- Paper towel and/or newspaper for stuffing the pot and for paper-mache (I used paper towel for the paper-mache simply because I feel like the texture added to the final effect)
- Acrylic paint (I used a deep chocolate brown, a slightly lighter brown and a gold)
- Paintbrushes and sponges
- Thin wire (this can be found in the jewellery supplies)
- Vegetation such as Spanish moss, small branches, etc for the pot around your mandrake root
- Leaves for the top of your mandrake root
- Some sort of body form or support: You can make your own out of wire or cardboard, or you can do as I did and use a cheap doll ( you have to disassemble her and cut her hair off lol, be prepared)
- Paper-mache mixture: I used 75% white glue and 25% water
- Masking tape
- Glue gun
- Some form of sealant/clear coat
(ignore the bad quality of this photo – I couldn’t sleep so I was working on this at 3 AM while my husband was sleeping, so I tried to take this in a super dark room with my cell phone)
If you are using wire or cardboard, assemble your form. If you are using a doll, you must prepare the doll at this point. Remove the arms and legs and cut off all of the doll’s hair to provide a solid inner form. Feed the wire through the armholes securing it on each side of the doll’s body. This will provide you with the flexibility to create the bendy branch style arms.
Using paper towel or newspaper slowly add bulk to your body form securing it in place with masking tape. Don’t forget that your ‘arms’ are branches and should slowly taper off in the way one would expect a branch to. If you look at the images of the mandrake root as it is portrayed in the movies, it is a little on the ‘plumper’ side of life, so feel free to run with this. Also, don’t concern yourself with making it overly even – this is a plant root so lumps and bumps will add to the character. When working on the had carefully tape your leaves in place, these will be further secured during the paper-mache process.
In order to add some animation to your mandrake root bend the arms (this is why you used the wire to start forming them) in some sort of creative way. Using the masking tape or glue gun create a 3-D face by adding a bit of bulk around the mouth, raised eyebrows and a nose.
Using paper towel or newspaper (I used newspaper for this step) stuff the bottom of the pot until such time that your mandrake root will sit comfortably on top of it at the height you would like it to be in the pot. Pack in more newspaper around it to hold it firmly in place and then, using your masking tape, create the base of the area in the pot around the mandrake root. This works to a) hold the mandrake root in place and b) provide an easy to use foundation to affix the vegetation to later.
Paper-mache the entirety of your mandrake root and the base area paying careful attention to the face area and around the leaves on top of its head. If you are using paper towel for the texture as I did, don’t concern yourself about getting it smooth and even. Wet down your paper in the paper-mache solution and allow it to lay across the larger portions of the project slightly unevenly.
With the paint, first paint on a solid base coat of the darker chocolate brown. You want to ensure that you cover all white areas, so do multiple coats if you feel it is required. Take your light brown and water some down slightly. With the sponge, dab it on lightly over the entire paper-mache portion careful so as not to leave clear sponge marks. Finally, repeat this process with the gold as well. If you need to add more definition to the face, go in with a dark, dark brown (I mixed a bit of black in with my chocolate brown) and add some shadowing in the mouth and under the eyebrows. Once the paint has dried, spray your whole project down with a sealant or clear coat in order to protect it, especially if you plan on putting it outside where it may be exposed to rain and dew.
Taking your vegetation, fill out the rest of the pot around the mandrake root glueing the various types of moss and vegetation in place. Ta-Da! You have your very own mandrake root!
This has me in a complete Harry Potter mood SO – Who is your favourite Harry Potter character? Who is your least favourite Harry Potter character? Would you be scared to re-pot mandrake roots based on the risks involved?