Having developed a newfound love and deep appreciation for Star Trek TOS over the summer, I decided to honor one of my favorite shows by making my own little Kirk and Spock figures. Making the captain and first officer of the USS Enterprise is easy, fun, and a good craft activity for older children and adults.
Though this particular project is Trek-inspired, you can use the basic instructions to create any character you like, whether it be a famous fictional character, an original creation, or someone you know.
This craft isn’t especially messy, but since it requires paint, you may want to cover your work place with newspaper just in case.
Step 1: Gather Supplies
What you need:
Wood men/game pieces
A note about paint brushes: I would recommend investing in a small set of better-quality brushes than the ones that come with sets of paint just because these generic-type brushes are very coarse. For this project, I bought a package of four white nylon brushes (two round and two shaders) and they worked out fairly well.
You may also want to invest in a fine-pointed brush for the smaller details and to get cleaner lines. I didn’t have this brush with these figures, so some of my lines aren’t as neat as I’d like.
As for the generic brushes, don’t throw them away! They’re great for giving texture.
Step 2: Prep (optional)
What I like to do before getting started on these projects is draw out how I want the figures to look. Just simple drawings, nothing extravagant. Since the figures are so small I like to keep my designs very simple, but you can make the doodle as detailed as you’d like.
Luckily, Starfleet uniforms aren’t terribly intricate.
Step 3: Mold Hair
Knead the clay for a couple of minutes to make it more pliable, then mold it onto the head of the peg. For these two figures, I did the hair a little differently for each.
For Spock, I simply rolled some clay into a little ball, pushed it onto the peg head, and shaped his distinctive bowl-cut. Keep in mind that Spock’s bangs curve, so don’t make the front of his hair a straight line. For the sideburns, pinch out and shape the clay in the appropriate places. Check that they are even on both sides.
For Kirk, I rolled the clay into little strips before placing it onto his head to give his hair a more “combed” look. Using this “strip” method, you can also give a little side part. Remember that Kirk combs his hair to the right.
Have fun with different hair styles and methods of shaping the clay. Experiment and take your time. Personally, this is the part of the figures that I spent the most time doing.
Step 4: Bake
With the clay still on the figure, place the wooden men on a cookie sheet and bake according to clay instructions. Keeping the clay on the wood ensures that the clay will hold its shape.
This process shouldn’t take long, though baking time varies. The particular clay I used (Craftsmart polymer clay) instructs that the clay be baked at 275 degrees F (135 degrees C) for 15 minutes per ¼ inch thickness. The clay on these figures was much thinner than that, so baking didn’t go beyond 10 minutes.
Once finished, allow the clay to cool before gently taking it off the peg. This might take a few tries, but if at first the clay doesn’t come off, let it sit for a short while longer before trying again.
Step 5: Paint Hair
Once the clay has cooled and you’ve successfully removed the clay, you can begin to paint the hair. Let dry.
For my figures, I used the coarse-bristle brush that came with my acrylics to give the hair some texture and give the illusion of individual hairs. You might want to consider painting the hair in sections, painting, say, the right side first and letting it dry before painting the left. This way when you hold the hair, you’ll get less paint on your fingers.
It’s a good idea to have a cup of water nearby where you can rinse your used paintbrushes, especially if you need to use the same brush for a different color. Have a paper towel handy to lightly dry your brushes and to take out any leftover paint in the hairs.
Step 6: Outline
Give yourself some guidelines for when you paint on the body of your figure so that you won’t have to guess the boundaries of each paint color.
With a pencil, lightly draw lines where you want the collar to go and outline the Starfleet insignia. Make sure that you have a brush that is small enough to color-in the latter! If you’d like, you can also outline the divide between the upper and lower parts of the uniform.
Step 7: Paint Clothes
Fill in the lines with the appropriate colors and let dry. Use your smoother brushes to paint the clothes.
For the border between the shirt and slacks, I just took a strip of paper and wrapped it around the figure and used it as a guide to mark the boundary. This way, the line will be straight all the way around the body. Once whichever section (upper or lower) you paint first has dried, you can use the paper again to help guide you when you paint the second section.
Thinner brushes are great to use not only on the Starfleet insignia but on the part of the collar right along the neck and the part where the black meets the color of the shirt.
You’ll probably have to mix paints to get the shirt colors right. If you use yellow for your insignia, remember to make it different from the color you use for your yellow shirt. I added a little brown to the yellow paint I used for Kirk’s shirt so that it was a darker shade.
Step 8: Glue & Finish Up
Once both hair and body are dried, glue on the hair. Voila! You now have your very own Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock.
But don't stop here! Two aren't nearly enough to run a starship. Create the rest of the Enterprise's beloved crew, or shake it up with a few of her enemies.