Introduction: MAKE YOUR OWN SCREAMING MANDRAKE!
We recently visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and our daughter spied an animatronic screaming mandrake plant in one of the store windows. She stood and stared for quite awhile with a big grin on her face. So i decided it would be fun to try to make one for her this Christmas on a smaller sized budget. (Due to ticket prices to visit the park) If you have any Harry Potter fans in the family this is a fun, personalized gift idea.
YES, IT REALLY DOES SCREAM!
Step 1: MATERIALS
Here are the things you will need:
~1 sound module (find them at radio shack or online @ AMAZPLUS.COM)
~1 pair of tan/beige boot socks
~3 strips of scrap poly foam (6" by 1")
~1 panel of green felt
~poly fill stuffing (melon sized amount)
~role of organic looking twine or hemp (for roots)
~brown pleather/ or felt (14" square or big enough to cover top of your planter)
~role of floral wire
~2 amber colored beads (eyes)
~Planter pot of your choice (mine is plastic, 8" square at the top and is 6" deep)
~(optional) Decorative moss NOTE: if the recipient is a child who will want to play with it a lot I would not add the moss. If it will be primarily ornamental then the moss adds some whimsical appeal.
Sewing Machine with notions (or needle and thread if your doing it all by hand)
Step 2: "LEAF ME ALONE I'M BUSY"
To begin you'll want to cut out your leaf clusters. To do this simply take your green felt and fold it into thirds. Then cut your desired leaf shapes. You'll need them to have about an inch of stem space. I kept mine simple with a cluster of 3 leafs. When your done you'll have 3 copies of your shape, one for each mandrake branch.
Step 3: "BRANCHING OUT"
Now for a little sewing. Turn 1 sock inside out. To form the branches you'll need to sew 2 deep narrow V's on the tube portion of the sock. These V's will portion the tube into approximate thirds and will be between 5-6" long. You'll want to make them wide enough to comfortably cut down the center but not so wide that they take up too much branch width.
Now you'll cut down the middle of the V's so that 3 separate branches are formed. Cut closely to the crotch of the V (NOT THROUGH) so they well lay properly when righted.
Fold up one of your leaf clusters and stuff it into one of the branch ends so that the stem portion of the leaf is pointing out. Now sew the top of the branch closed working over the stem of the leafs. Repeat this process for each branch.
Step 4: "RIGHT YOUR WRONGS"
Before turning your mandrake right side out, you'll need to sew some legs. Sew 1 large V on the toe portion of the sock that goes approximately 3/4 the way up towards the heel. Once again cut between the V this time cut SLIGHTLY (trust me it will stretch and become very large very fast) through the crotch of the V so that this becomes the only opening in your sock now.
Turn your mandrake right side out through this opening being careful not to stretch the hole too much (you have to hand sew it closed later) Once righted you should have a 3 branched/ armless mandrake body.
Step 5: "He's Full of It"
Now to stuff him full of all sorts of goodies.
Begin by stuffing the branches. Take your 3 pieces of foam and work some floral wire through the center of the foam and out the top of it. Cut the wire leaving about 1/2" excess at the bottom and top. Bend down the excess wire so that it's folded into the foam. Repeat this process with all 3 pieces. Now run your foam pieces up each branch. (like you would a finger in a glove)
Next take your sound module and determine which button is record vs. play. (on mine Red was record, Yellow play) Place your module inside the head so that the speaker faces the back or heel side of the sock. Be careful not to pull apart any wiring while doing this. Maneuver the buttons so that they go slightly up the base of the branches. I placed the play button on an outside branch and the record on the middle branch so that I could easily remember which was which. Now stuff a softball sized amount of stuffing in front of the module to form the head and keep it in place.
Note: I like to braid my branches so that the record button is hidden, but the play button is easily accessible. Plus it just adds to the character.
Now stuff the remainder of the body however you would like. I like mine to have a little pop belly and bubble butt.
Step 6: "Lets Put a Smile on That Face"
Whip out your needle and thread so we can give our little friend some character. Keep in mind that you can really personalize it and make any sort of face you wish. If you want to just replicate what I've done it's very simple.
You'll probably want to hand sew his opening closed so that his guts aren't falling out while you work.
Then you can begin his face.To do his pouting lip I secured one end of my thread and then gather stitched a large arch shape, then pulled it tight and secured it at the opposite end.
For the eyes you'll need your 2 amber colored beads. Spacing the eyes further apart then you would like, secure your thread end and add 1 bead onto it. Dive your needle under the stuffing and across coming up at the location of your second eye. Now thread your second bead on. Pinch the bridge of the nose and pull the eyes together tightly. Pass the needle back and forth several times in this fashion and then secure your end.
For his cute little buttocks, secure the end of your thread at the bottom center of the heel. Bring the needle and thread to the top center of the heel. Dive your needle under the stuffing to your secured end. Pull it tightly and repeat this about 3 times then secure your end.
Step 7: "He's Quite the Handyman"
You'll notice a couple things missing from our mandrake at this point.
For his arms you have a couple options.
~ Short limbs ~ for short limbs, simply cut his legs in half and gather together the ends on each cut piece. Then you can relocate the cut off portions to the upper body for arms.
~ Long limbs ~ for long limbs you will keep the legs as is and sew a pair of arms out of the toe portion of the second sock. Just cut about 3/4 of the foot from the second sock off and flip it inside out. Sew a straight edge down either side of the center of the foot. Cut it in 2 then turn them right side out. Stuff them to your liking and gather together the ends with your needle and thread. Sew them onto the mandrakes body were ever you feel it would sprout them.
Step 8: "BACK TO HIS ROOTS"
There are just a few details left to finish this project.
To add roots to your mandrake cut a few pieces of your twine in varying lengths and hot glue them to the ends of his arms and legs. Then fray the ends to look a little more natural.
FINALLY he needs a home to live in.
Take the pot that you have chosen to be his home, and your brown material. Cover the top of your pot by stretching it tightly across the top and hot gluing it down under the lip of the pot. Cut a small X in the top of the material. (Not too large you want him to fit snugly) NOTE: since every mandrake is different it is best to cut a little at a time until it fits they way you prefer.
You can also glue some moss to the top of the fabric if you would like.
Step 9: "I Scream You Scream We All Scream for Mandrake!"
Give your mandrake a voice. Locate the record button and record a very annoying high pitched squeal, or leave a personalized message. You can change it as many times as you want until you are satisfied. My mandrake squeals "MERRY CHRISTMAS"
NOTE: I thought a fun accompanying gift would be a pair of earmuffs!