Step 1: What You Will Need.
Ok so this is a pretty simple project that pretty much anyone can do.
-2.4 gallon bucket or whatever size you want to use
-Some styrofoam whatever you have laying around will work.
-Craft sticks (Popsicle sticks)
-Non-toxic water based paints
-Hot glue gun
-Airbrush or paint brush
-Large bowl or square container for water
-Some type of hand saw I prefer a Japanese style push/pull
-Hand held rasp
-Very sharp scissors or hobby knife
-Large pair of dikes
Your also going to need a good afternoon or do this project over a few days.
Step 2: I Has a Bucket!
First off take your bucket and simply cut it in half. Since I used a soft plastic 2.5 gallon bucket I cut it with a hobby knife and a pair of scissors. Also remember to use your ruler to get your lines nice and straight.
Step 3: Foam Base
Now place your chosen bucket half on top of a piece of foam that allows at least 3 inches around the curved side. Then trace it. Remove the bucket and trace another half circle approximately 3-4 inches larger than the bucket line. Go ahead and cut out the shape you have.
Step 4: Shape-up
Now we're going to shape the base to make it look like a natural bank. Using your saw cut the outside and inside on an angle as shown in the photos. Once you have a rough shape use the rasp to smooth it and clean the lines. Be sure you leave a flat surface where your original line is for the bucket to sit on.
Step 5: Hole for a Hedgehog.
Now for an animal to live inside he needs a way to get in. So naturally set the bucket on the base and trace yourself out an opening. Using scissors, the hobby knife, and/or the saw cut out the bucket and foam base to your liking. Once your happy with it go ahead and glue the bucket on.
I'm sure you notice the large piece of foam attached to the side of my stump. That is the start of a ramp so that Leo can get to the top.
Step 6: Get to Clippin!
Step 7: Plaster Time.
Now time to fill your bowl with warm water. Get your plaster cloth out. If it isn't already cut into strips approximately 12 in. long and 2 in. wide go ahead and do so now. While holding a strip at both ends run it through the water then hold it over the bowl and let it drain a little. Now lay it over your creation. Gently smooth the plaster with your fingers. Your going to want to make sure the entire thing has two layers of plaster cloth on it. You won't need to worry about plastering the inside. Just use your judgment and if you see a spot you think needs more layers, go ahead and add them.
Once done your home should look like one cohesive structure.
Now is the time to take a break. Plaster relies on the water evaporating, so it takes some time to dry. You can sit there with a hair dryer to try and speed it up but I would recommend leaving it over night unless you're really strapped for time.
Step 8: Time to Get Creative.
Now is when you can pretty much do whatever you want. I painted mine with my airbrush since it gives and nice natural look and it is easy to blend colors together. Remember to only use water based non toxic paints because your don't want your little friend breathing fumes.
Step 9: Safety First!
So after trying Leo out on top he fell off the side. Luckily I was monitoring him and caught him. Since I won't always be there to catch him I decided to put in a little railing. This is completely optional. But if you do decide to make one I recommend painting it to make it fit the theme. Remember only non-toxic stains or paints.
Step 10: Finishing Touches.
Just to add to the natural look I glued some fake grass on mine but not too much. I also made sure any that didn't get glued down was removed.
Keep in mind that this project has endless possibilities you could use the whole bucket and make a full stump. Also I am a hedgehog owner and haven't owned many other small pets. I know that unlike hedgehogs some other rodents and small animals have a tendency to chew on things. If this is the case I suppose you could use paper mache instead of plaster cloth. Just remember to be safe and have fun.