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If you like gardening and also like Harry Potter (or have a family member or friend who does, in my case), then creating a decorative Mandrake Root can be a fun and inexpensive gift that the recipient is sure to love!

Step 1: Bill of Materials

ITEM -- QTY {Approx Price in USD}

Zombie Chia Pet -- 1 {~$12}
Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Terra Cotta (2.5 lb tub) -- 1 {~$6}
8" Bubble Bowl Vase (or fish bowl) -- 1 {~8}
Various weeds, grasses, earthy medium -- few handfuls {forage for free}

Total Est. Cost: $26
Total Est. Time: 30 minutes to an hour molding, recommended 24-48 hours of air dry to fully cure the clay
Skill Level: Easy!

Step 2: Step 1: Make the Mandrake

The mandrake root has a surprising amount of history and references, all surrounding the mythology of a magical plant whose root is a human being (with a deadly scream when heard).

First step is to fin or create your own design for how you want your mandrake root to look. I found it easier to use a zombie Chia pet as a base, which I then added terra cotta-colored modeling clay to enhance the features I wanted and add arms, legs, root growths, etc.

Few tips for clay newbies (such as myself) that I found helpful:
- give yourself enough time an room to work
- hands will be dirty, so dress appropriately (apron or clothes that can get dirty)
- newspapers on the work surface
- Use the chia pet tray (or similar container) to hold water
- use the water to join and smooth clay pieces
- work with small pieces of clay at a time, section by section (like paint, thicker medium = more drying time required)
- if you don't have clay tools, some toothpicks and dental floss can work pretty well
- your hands & imagination are your best tools
- a pocket torch will not accelerate drying time, but it can burn surfaces for a nice aged effect


The thing about terra cotta (or any) clay is that it's really messy and takes a few minutes of hand washing to remove, so caveat emptor. Also, this explains a lack of work in progress photos, so my apologies - will try and find a helper to take photos next time!

Step 3: Step 2: the Presentation

After finishing your mandrake, allow for a few days to let your masterpiece fully cure. A lukewarm, dry environment will work to let it air dry; no need to bake in a kiln or oven.

Once your piece is cured, consider how to present your mandrake inside the planter/vessel of your choice.

Using a bubble bowl vase (similar to a fish bowl), I found the piece required additional support. Lucky for me, I was able to pull some grasses from my backyard and laid them out inside the bowl as cushioning - if I had more time, I probably would have picked up and used fake peat moss. If you want to maintain a live plant inside, real sphagnum peat moss would probably work better. I suppose coconut hair or similar earth-colored growth mediums could work just as well.

After adding supporting material to cradle the mandrake piece, I plucked some healthy tuberous plants from my garden to stuff inside the chia head. (The opening is a little small - I used the threads on a carriage bolt I had handy to bore out the hole some more. Be VERY careful doing this, as not to damage your artwork!) Again, if this is intended for growing plants, I would recommend inserting a growth medium first, then following your preferred method of replanting cuttings (root growth products, etc).

Step 4: Wrap Up

Once your mandrake is ready, carefully insert into your bowl/vessel, arrange any supporting medium and add any final touches.

I will be presenting the mandrake I made to my sister (the Harry Potter fan) later today as a Christmas gift, and I am sure she will enjoy displaying its "ugly baby" beauty in her office (to muggles, that is).

Thanks and good luck on your own mandrakes! I welcome any feedback, questions or comments.
Great Idea!! Simplistic, creative, and fun!! Thank You for sharing........,..
<p>Thanks everyone. This was a fun project, will definitely include my kiddos next time to help mold and to take pictures. </p><p>Also - sister liked it. Success!</p>
Voted this instructable in both categories. Nice work
Very cool... Great job
Haha! So cute! Never could have thought of this=P

About This Instructable

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Bio: Jack of all trades and always eager to learn and make more. Engineer, husband, father, mountaineer, & lover of radio, electronics and woodcraft.
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