Arrrr, Walk the Plank Matey! Making Plank Bases With Air Dry Clay

Having some of my Seamus crew painted, I decided I needed to think about bases.  I like the style of homemade wood plank bases, so I drug out the air-dry clay to get started.


Crayola Air Dry Clay

I use Crayola brand of air-dry clay.

Clob, Planks, and Painted Planks

As you can see in the image above, you take a dab of clay, as shown at the far left.  Smoosh it down onto the base to get the exact diameter you need.  The round-lipped base that Malifaux requires will leave an indention in your clay.  Remove the smooshed piece from the base and cut out around the indented ring so the clay fits the base.

Next, place the smooshed piece of 30mm round clay back onto the base.  Turn the base, with clay on it, upside down, and press onto a flat surface to even the top out.  Your new base insert should be nice and round at this point while the top is flat and smooth.

Next you need to decide on your pattern.  You can create bricks, rubble work, cobblestone, garden path, whatever you decide.  To make my plank bases, I found a comb and lightly pressed the comb into the clay to get my lines for the planks.  The first plank I did by hand, so the board widths aren’t even, which works just fine.

Now that you have your lines in the top of the clay, draw a few lines perpendicular to the planks to simulate the ends of the boards.  You should now have a few boards in various lengths carved into the soft clay.

To make more detail, I took a small nail and pushed two “nail holes” into the ends of each board, and slowly twisted the nail.  This simulates the nails that are in the planking.

The next step requires adding more details such as wood grain and knots.  This is done by taking a hobby knife, nail, or other sharp object, and lightly scratching lines into your boards.  This will create some grooves which, when painted, will look more realistic.   The center base above is done at this point and simply needs to dry and then gets painted or molded.

Finally, remove any loose pieces of clay, firm up the edges and smooth out the sides of the insert.

When you get it where you want it and are satisfied with the base work, simply let the clay dry.

I plan on making one more base, then making a mod of my work as the clay may break or end up chipped.  My molds are done using quick set RTV silocone found at hobby stores like Hobby Lobby in the U.S.  The base on the far right that is painted was my first attempt at making my own base.  I think the second one looks much better as I didn’t make the planks by hand, but rather by the “comb” method.

I’ll post more images when I get done.  Enjoy!


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