I needed to create some realistic shepherd staff props for our Christmas musical this past year.
I started by melting some pvc pipes with a heat gun. This takes awhile, but once it's hot enough, you can bend the pipe into whatever shapes you like with twists and curves so that they look more like sticks instead of a store bought pipe. Then I covered them in spray foam and left them to dry. After they dried, I paper mache'd them with brown packaging material that you can buy rolls of in the paint section at walmart for about $3. It works just like newspaper, but it's a continuous roll with no printed wording to have to cover. After a few layers and waiting for it all to dry, I just painted them and added a dry brush technique over it to pick up the textures a little more. Hopefully this will help someone who needs to make something similar.