Wednesday, February 10, 2016

DIY: A Harry Potter-Inspired Mandrake Root Valentine Bouquet!

Let me start by saying I honest-to-goodness set out to make something super cute for Valentines Day.

But instead, I made this!


Actually, I still think this little guy is hella cute - but it's been pointed out to me that I have an abnormally high tolerance for creepy dolls.

Plus, can I just say? Making a "cute" baby mandrake root is DARN NEAR IMPOSSIBLE. Kindly ignore all the adorable examples on Etsy and Pinterest while I'm trying to make this point.

If you haven't run screaming from your monitor yet, allow me to show you it's not THAT bad... from a distance and before you add water:


And you don't *have* to add water, of course. I just like that it adds to the realism. (Or you can splurge and fill the vase with resin!)

The water distorts and magnifies, which is actually really cool. And, er, really creepy:

Hopefully I'm hitting just the right note of horrifying sweetness for some of you Potter heads out there. If so, keep reading; I'll show you how to make your own Mandrake bouquet for less than $10.


- a small floral bouquet
a vase that fits the bouquet
- paper clay (or any kind of clay that air-dries)
- craft paint 
- a little twine or sisal rope
Mod Podge or other clear sealant (if you plan to add water)

My vase and flowers are from JoAnn's, and cost less than $5 for both. I already had everything else on hand, so this was an extra cheap craft - MY FAVORITE KIND.

Step 1: Cut apart your floral bouquet. Ideally you'll have 5 or 6 stems total. Set aside.

Step 2: Form a fat sausage of clay that can still fit through the neck of your vase. Pinch out a rough figure, leaving the arms and legs very short. Use your fingernail to indent a little mouth and eye slits.

Step 3: Holding the clay figure firmly in one hand, insert each of the floral stems into its head, like so:

...then pinch the clay up around the stems a bit, too.
(You can always add more clay when it dries.)

If you left your stems long, you should be able to push them down into the clay figures neck and abdomen. Be careful they don't poke through anywhere on the body, though.


You should be able to test your flower heights by gently setting your figure inside the vase:

Step 4: When you're happy with the arrangement and your figure, leave it to dry completely.
(Mine took two days.)

Step 5: Once the clay has dried, reinforce the stem attachments on the head by adding glue around each one.

Step 6: Paintin' Time!!


I used a mixture of browns and grays, and even experimented with rubbing Fuller's Earth (basically clean dirt that scenics use) into the figure. My figure is pretty smooth, so eventually I added a bunch of striations to make it seem more root-like. Remember to add a little black around the eyes and mouth to help those stand out.

OPTIONAL STEP 7: If you plan to submerge your Mandrake in water, clear coat it now with Mod Podge or a spray lacquer.

Step 8: To add the finer root strands, cut and separate the fibers from a small piece of rope:

Twist some of the fibers back together at one end - as I've done here - to form a point. Then use a dot of superglue to attach that point to the very tip of the arms or legs.

I added about 3 small bunches of fibers to each limb, and also made the leg roots longer:

Mandrake butt!

These connections are very fragile, so be gentle when handling your Mandrake!

 Testing the fit.

To assemble, add the water (or resin) to your vase first, before gently placing your new Mandrake Baby inside.

As a finishing touch, you can add a gift tag with one of the following groan-worthy puns:
Valentine, You're A Scream!

I'm POTTY For You

Valentine, I'm ROOTING For Us
Because what's Valentines Day without puns?

Or, if you're feeling a little more sappy (OH SNAP MORE PLANT PUNS), you can go with a "You Make My Life Magical" or "You Make Every Day More Magical" like I did for John. Because awwwww. 

(Btw, shout out to my awesome hubby for helping make these photos happen even after my head cold-induced rage quit yesterday. He lugged in shop lights, held reflectors, and basically did everything except press the camera shutter for me. THANK YOU SWEETIE.)

 Here's an outside shot we attempted, before realizing the glass glare was too much:

And one final finished shot, pre-adding water:

I expect we'll keep our Mandrake water-free for display, unless we get ambitious and decide to add resin later. Resin would definitely help protect lil' Rooty the best!

Hope you guys enjoyed my creepy/cute Valentine craft!

If you'd like to see ALL my DIY projects in one place, then check out my Crafts Page.


And the winner of the Harry Potter poster from my last post IS...

Kate Mulhauser


the Christina who said she and her daughter would probably frame this and put it over their TV. (And I'll hold ya to that, Christina. ;))

Yes, I decided to give both our posters away. You guys are just too sweet, and I'm out of wall space anyway! So congrats to both my winners, and please e-mail me your mailing addresses, ladies!


  1. I think it's adorable! So creative.

  2. I love how doable your tutorials are! I'm far from crafty, but I always feel like I could totally tackle your crafts with the skills I have and supplies that are easy to get!

  3. This is totally adorable and NOT creepy at all!! Love it!

  4. One thing I would like to suggest if adding resin instead of water- it may be beneficial to add it in two parts. Pour in a little at first and let cure, to cement the figure to the bottom of the vase. Then fill up the rest. You may not have this issue working with paper clay, but I did a similar project with a piece I'd made from paper mache, and I had just gone ahead and filled the whole container with resin. Turns out, the figurine floated. Not quite the look I had been going for. Anyway, just a suggesting based on a prior experience, hope it helps!

  5. I don't think it's creepy at all.

  6. Congrats, Kate and Christina! I'm a bit envious... Anyway, love the tutorial here. And that Mandrake is adorable, but I think I also have developed a fondness for even creepier and stranger things than I might normally like thanks to the Bloggess and her love of decrepit taxidermied animals.

  7. I don't Harry Potter(*hides*) but I think mandrake roots are cute. I also have a pretty high tolerance for creepy dolls and things though.

  8. I don't think he's creepy at all! Love him! So cute!

  9. I think it's great. You should have splurged on more realistic flowers though. You did such an excellent job on the mandrake, the craft deserves it.

  10. I have to make that. That is amazing! My sister would love it!

  11. That is adorable as all get out! I kind of want to do tiny ones with a single bloom now.

  12. I LOVE this! I personally think it's very cute, but then again I think garden snails are cute so maybe I'm weird. I also love the card! If you wrote that yourself, color me impressed with your calligraphy!
    I also decided to go geeky with my husband's Valentine's gift. He hinted rather loudly and vehemently that he wanted a sonic screwdriver so on Friday a package will arrive at his office addressed to "Dr. John Smith" with a note that simply reads "Hi Sweetie".

  13. Zee root! He ees cute!


  14. I am madly in love with him! Is it weird if I make this for myself as a Valentine's Day gift? No? Thanks, internet friends, you get me.

    1. Nope. Not weird at all. Mr. Bean gave himself gifts all the time. And Mr. Bean is awesome.

    2. Mr. Bean was my gateway to British TV! It was always JUST a touch pathetic when he "found" his gifts though.
      Now I have to go binge watch Mr. Bean!

  15. Modpodge is not waterproof. I learned this the hard way when I used it to "seal" a set of coasters I made for myself.

  16. The way you did the roots is absolutely perfect!

  17. This is an adorable idea! Just the right amount of creepy/cute. I love it!

  18. Awesome!!! I would love receiving that as a gift!

  19. Oh my goodness, that Christina is me! lol I'm so excited, thank you so much! I love the Mandrake baby. I don't find it creepy at all. :)

  20. That is super adorable!!! Love it Jen!!

  21. p.s. is there something wrong with me that i don't find this creepy at all? more like, i find it totally adorable...

  22. I love it!! Also, did you hear there is a new Harry Potter book coming out containing the script of the new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!!!!!!

  23. What about using clear candle wax? My SIL made everyone clear candles with seashells stuck in them some years ago, so I know the product exists! I think it's cute!

  24. I tried this, except as a Father's Day gift for my Dad! It's not as good as yours, but I loved the idea! I'm going to link this page to my blog, because everybody needs a mandrake.


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