Pringles Tower: Part 4

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Wow, folks are actually reading this thing. Had quite a few questions yesterday. I’ll try to address some of them today. The rest will have to wait.

Someone asked for a video showing the actual sculpting process – let me put that on the “to do” list. Nudge me if I get distracted.

Before we get started today more about those hand made tools I mentioned. Some of you wanted better pictures.


First up, my preferred tools for texturing stone and mortar lines on the stonework.

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Tool on the left is a dentist/sculpting tool. I believe this came from a set distributed by Gale Force Nine.

This little nub makes excellent half-cresent marks on clay if held at just the right angle and applied with a jabbing motion. To my eye the result looks a lot like chisel/tool marks on stone. You may know (or come up with) a better tool/technique. If so, please share it. 😉

The tool on the right is just a tappered wooden dowel. I have a few hundred of these – a friend gave them to me. I believe he said they were from a close out sale at a Hair Beautician’s shop. I have no idea. But they are damn handy. I use them for all sorts of things. Anyway, great for making small deep marks in clay and the taper helps widen gaps and nudge material.

One more tip when using tools like these. The more you work your Sculpey the softer (and gooier) it becomes. This might cause the clay to stick to your tool and rise back up as you withdraw it. One solution is putting the piece in the fridge for a few mintues so it hardens/stiffens up again. Another trick is keeping a cup of baby powder or talc handy and dip your tool in it occasionally.

The next tool folks asked about was that stamp I made to imprint the windows/arrow slits. Here’s a closer look.



Nothign fancy here. Simply snip off the end of a popcycle stick to get the hieght/size window you want. Drill a hole in it and insert a dowel for a handle. Sand smooth – bingo, new tool.  If you want peaked windows just take a razor blade knife and carve away. Again simple tool but it’ll save you a LOT of work if you’re doing all your windows from scratch.

And finally, here’s another handmade tool that we’ll be using in the next step.


This strange tool is a bit of Aluminum Blind material wrapped around the end of a carpenter’s pencil. It’s used like a cookie cutter.

For what you ask…? To add these to our tower.


See those little fluted stone features? Those are corbels. When I got to the top of my tower I wrestled with adding these features and getting them equal sized and uniform spacing. Nothing I did looked right — until I came up with the cookie cutter approach. More on that in a bit.

By the way bits of  aluminum blind are incredibly useful when sculpting. You can cut them with scissors, bind them, shape them in a variety of ways. You can do the same thing with aluminum can material. Little tip: Your local Home Depot cuts aluminum blinds to size for customers. They usually have piles of 2 to 3 inch pieces lying next to the cutter. Asking an employee nicely if you can take a handful rarely gets a “no” (just some strange looks).

Okay back to the tower.

Completing the Turret


So here’s our tower. We’ve detailed/textured it from the ground up to the top of the can. Now it needs a crown. It needs a proper turret.

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We’re going to do the same thing we did with the foundation — pour a plaster form for our turret which will sheath in clay.

For mine I used an empty plastic tub that once held sour cream. I watch the turrent to just out a 1/2 to an inch from the tower walls with a nice flare/transition.

The angle/flare of the sour cream tub was just about perfect to my eye. I poured my plaster in the tube to a hieght of about two inches.

This was the result.

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Next I put a thin lay of Sculpey over the metal lid of the Pringles can. I applied white glue over that and pressed my plaster form down onto it. Take special care that it’s centered. Then just follow the same process you did coming up the can. Sheath everything with clay. For those ‘flutes’ roll out a strip of clay about a half inch wide and long enough it can be wrapped around the side of your turret. Then use the ‘cookie cutter’ tool above and cut away your flutes – I equal spaced min about 1/8th of inch apart. Don’t worry if, when you wrap it around the turrent things don’t match up exactly. Rememer — Sculpey is forgiving. Simply cut your fluted ribbon a little short and then give it a gentle stretch to make the ends meet perfectly.

Here’s a photo of our turret with some stonework/texturing applied. Notice that just underneath our form I added a band of stones that just out to help with the transition. Now that smooth part about the topmost band of stone work? That’s the wall of our turret. I’ll confess, as I was building this tower the turret had me worried. I had no idea how I was going to approach it. So at this stage there was a HUGE sigh of relief as I realized it was going to come together.

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This picture should help illustrate exactly what I did. Here’s a top view looking down.

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I layed a layer of clay over the top of our plaster form. I decided I wanted the roof to be wood plankng and textured it accordingly. (I’ll explain my method of doing wood textures in a future blog entry).

I also wanted an acess hatch so I used a dremel tool to carve out an opening. (Had I thought of it before I started this project I could have allowed for an openign when I poured the form).

For the walls, I used the clay press to roll out four layers of clay and then sandwiched them to get the desired thickness for my walls – then I cut a ribbon about the height that I wanted (approxmately abdomen high on a man-sized mini).

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Next I cut blocks of clay to form my crenelations. For the interior wall, I found getting a tool in there to do proper stone work was a PITA. In the end I just textured it with chisle marks. To my eye it looks fine. At this point I baked the entire thing again.


Here’s the tower out of the oven with just a black wash to pull out some of the texture. Almost ready to be occupied.

Here’s what it ended up looking like painted up.


Ultimately I decided I wanted to make a roof for this piece. We’ll cover that in the next installment.

The tower up to this point took me about four weeks – working roughly an hour a day, with longer stretches on my Sunday afternoons. Now a lot of the time was spent problem solving and doing trial and error work. If I had to do a tower like this again, I think it could easily be done on a long weekend.

Thanks for reading. Again if you have any questions about the process or feel I skipped over some details, just drop me a note.

** Addendum: I left off one thing I did before painting the piece. I mentioned previously that Sculpey can be carved. It reminds me of carving soap. The baked material is strong and firm (albeit flexible) but it also takes to carving really well. Using an Xacto knife with a sharp point/blade I like to go in after a piece is baked and ‘rough it up’ here and tere. Just a little scratching motion with the point to knock off any smooth surfaces. I also like stabbing Sculpey stone work wit the point of the blade and then slightly flexing the blade so it chips off a piece. The resulting craters/dimples look very much like natural weathered stone. I jsut randomly go over the piece flicing off pieces here and there to give it some age. And if you over do it? fill in with clay, texture it again and bake. No worries.



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