Modeling clay molds for quick and easy casting

I did this as a tutorial for another website I have joined, The DM’s Craft. I wanted to post it here too, and that gives me the chance to upload my photos.

I joined the above board and was reading through their messages on crafting stuff, and thought that it might be helpful to post my own experience with making stuff using clay and plaster. I posted a few photos but was asked if I could post more demonstration so that people could see the process.

First, the materials. For this effort I use standard Hobby Lobby modeling clay. Not the oven-baked clay like Sculpey, nor the air-drying clay for making sculptures or pottery. Just the regular clay that takes forever to dry out. The clay I am using has probably been in use over a year and still works fine.

Step 1: Roll out your clay. (The miniature is to provide a sense of scale)
Rolled clay

Step 2: Make your molds. (This first image shows me simply using my thumb to create a depression which is how the coin pile and the skull pile will be started).
Thumb in clay

Step 2a: This image shows all the “molds” pressed into the clay. In each case I’ve shown what I used to make the mold next to each one. For the coin pile I used three different sized wooden dowels, for the skull pile I just used one skull on a stick (I couldn’t find the ones I made, so this is from a set of miniatures I painted a long time ago), for the coffin lid I used an unpainted miniature and for the lion-head shield I used a small toy lion. All I did was carefully press each item down until I felt it was good to go. For the coin and skull piles that meant a lot of individual pressing into the clay to create the effect of a pile.
Imprints in clay

Step 3: Pour the plaster. I use “Hydrostone” which is a super hard plaster that is much sturdier than regular plaster of paris. I also mixed up enough to cast a couple of Hirst Arts molds at the same time so I got a bunch of blocks out of this too.
Plaster poured in clay

Step 4: Demold the cast items. I just popped them out.
Plaster casts from clay

Step 5: Paint the tiems. I did a pretty simple black primer, then did a couple of layers of wet and then drybrushing. On the coin pile I used some glitter. The coin pile looks better than the photo, but it didn’t turn out as good as I wanted. Flash photos sometimes pick up certain pigments better than others, and in this case the black paint I used as a wash overwhelmed the gold and silver paint making it look all gray. In real life it looks gold and silver, with glitters. Trust me.
Painted casts from clay

Regardless, I think they came out OK.


I had posted this in my other blog before I started this one. These are some beholders I made a long time ago.

The little one on the left is a very early one long before I started to get “serious” about sculpting. The unpainted ones are the original sculpted model and one I cast from resin.

Elania 2: Session 11

After defeating the female spellcaster and the two animated statues, the party reviewed their options and status. While they did so, Talon did a thorough search of the walls of the small room, eventually discovering a mechanism which operated a hidden door at the end of the room opposite the hallway. Quickly figuring out the mechanism, Talon opened the door revealing a smaller room which contained nothing except an object that looked like a large mirror with a rippling, coruscating surface. Halmod immediately surmised that this must be a teleporting portal similar to the one they used to reach Grygsdraal from Elania’s mansion.


Unfortunately the party had been blindfolded when they went through that portal, and it took a while before Kugel managed to recall that the team members had individually teleported by uttering the word “Grygsdraal” while moving into the portal.

Still, having not yet found the Book of Ceorl, the party did not want to return to Grygsdraal, and they also lacked a suitable gem to activate the device. Eventually a more thorough search of the dead sorceress revealed some gems and a bit of paper in a hidden pocket in the hem of her robe. The paper had the word “****” (Need to retrieve word, doing this at lunch from work) written on it.

On a hunch Halmod took a gem and uttered the word while entering the portal. After some fits and starts the rest of the party managed to follow him, and they found themselves in a room similar to the Grygsdraal portal room. Doors on each side of the portal were closed. Opening one door the party found a large hallway with a door flanked by two statues similar to the ones they had just fought. Unwilling to trigger another such fight in their depleted condition, they checked the other door. That door led to a room with a bed, a desk and an armoire, all of which appeared to have long ago been thoroughly searched.

As they contemplated what to do, a voice suddenly began to question them. The voice indicated displeasure that the party had killed members of his family and warned the party to withdraw. A quick conversation about the “Book of Ceorl” and the looming demonic apocalypse finally convinced the voice to listen to the party. Soon a middle-aged man appeared at the door dressed in expensive robes. Claiming that the area belonged to him, he admitted that he had taken over the rooms after finding them abandoned.

The reason he decided to talk to the party was that within the center of a large room nearby, an apparition had been appearing for many years with a cryptic statement about “the red light will reveal the page’s secret” or words to that effect. In the past few days the growing light of the object in the sky had begun to rival the sun itself, and the party’s comments made him wonder if there was any connection between the strange message and the object’s appearance in the sky.

Kugel immediately surmised that the red light might reveal the contents of the strange empty page the party had found days earlier in a locked chest. Unrolling the parchment he was rewarded as the light from the “second sun” caused the words of a recalling spell to appear. Upon invoking the spell on the parchment, with a flash the paper was consumed and Kugel held in his hands a small box.

Opening the box triggered a minor trap that caused Kugel to feel weakened, but within the box he found a leather bound book with the name “Ceorl” written in draconic. Also in the box was a small cloth bag with a number of small but valuable gems. (15 gems in the bag, each worth right at 100gp.)

The man in the robes suddenly demanded the book from Kugel and the party refused. Angered again at the party, and professing to wreak vengeance for the death of his daughter, the man ignored Halmod’s attempts to negotiate a peaceful settlement and the party found themselves on the verge of combat.

Luckily though, before the man could get off a single spell, Halmod successfully hit him with a “Hold Person” spell, and the party headed back to the portal room with the book and gems.

Putting his memory to the test, Halmod managed to activate the portal by sacrificing a gem. The team observed that once activated the portal remained open for one minute, and during that time any creature uttering the destination word was teleported to that destination.

Thus did the party return to Grygsdraal, victorious and in possession of the much-sought after Book of Ceorl.

Appearing suddenly in the dwarven portal room, the somewhat shocked dwarf guard agreed to relay their message to the dwarf king. Soon the party found themselves summoned to the king’s royal throne room.

There they discovered that the town of Elania had been overrun and all contact with the outside world from Grygsdraal had been lost. Demonic hordes were attempting to invade Grygsdraal and nobody knew where Geltran Rovell was, or if he even lived.

Kugel then decided to read the Book of Ceorl, which appeared to be a non-magical journal. The journal covered the heroic exploits of Ceorl and his group and ended with dire warnings about a future return of the demons. In the event that the demons did return, the journal revealed that Ceorl’s exhaustive research of ancient scrolls and texts revealed that the previous demonic invasion had only been defeated through some mysterious means that was associated with the haunted mesa of “Flattop”. The journal revealed Ceorl’s suspicion that Flattop contained a teleporting portal.

Geltran Rovell’s elf companion (*need to retrieve her name*) had long studied Flattop but was unaware that there might be a portal there, since the area was basically a bare and forbidding hunk of rock thrust out of the ground in eons past.

Kugel and Halmod decided it was worth a try to see if they could reach Flattop through the portal in Grygsdraal, and so after resting and healing overnight, they met at the portal room and attempted to reach Flattop by using Flattop’s draconic name. This resulted in opening a gate where they found themselves staring into a reddish light and a room full of demons.


Kugel immediately realized the danger of allowing dwarf-killing demons to enter the soft underbelly of the dwarf city of Grygsdaal. And so battle was joined.

The demons managed to rush through the portal into Grygsdraal, but the party held them at bay while the dwarf guard and Rovell’s elf companion went for help. A furious battle ensued with the party finally seeing the awesome power of Gregor’s “smite evil” ability while Malf’s arrows peppered the demons and Talon moved into a flanking position and dealt repeated deadly sneak attacks. Unfortunately Kinestarre, Kugel’s loyal eidolon, was soon beaten down and dispelled. Kugel summoned yet another rhinoceros to compensate while Halmod desperately hammered away at the demons with his quenching hammer.

The demons were soon routed and fled back through the still open gate, with the party hot on their heels. That’s where the game ended for the night.

Elania 2: Session 10

Wow. Double digits. We have actually played enough sessions that it takes two bytes to type out how many sessions we have had. Awesome.

Session 10 was, however, an abbreviated session due to time constraints of our new meeting format (Every other Thursday instead of the old process of whenever we can manage to get together). Anyway, getting on with it:

Talon considered the possibility of another blast of fire upon attempting to re-open the door. Halmod and Kugel quietly backed away from the area, voicing encouragement for Talon, or perhaps Gregor, to open the door. Malf suggested attempting to use a remote opening technique. Talon recognized the wisdom in this and rummaged around in his pack, emerging triumphantly with 50 feet of rope. Tying one end to the door’s lever, he moved fifty feet away and pulled it open. A moment later he had 30′ of smoldering rope and an open door.

“What is your purpose?” The door asked.

Talon responded “We seek the Book of Ceorl”.

“Enter, friend of Ceorl.” the door replied.

After some trepidation the party all decided to enter the hallway beyond the door. Traveling down the hallway they eventually encountered a small rectangular room which seemed to be a dead end. As they passed through the hallway, they noticed that there were alcoves on each side of the hallway with large statues of humanoids. A quick search of the alcoves provided no indication of buttons or levers, so they went on. As they gathered around the entrance of the small room, a robed female suddenly appeared in the corner the same moment that a blast of fire engulfed the entire party.

Immediately the party counter-attacked, but as they did so, one of the statues in the hallway strode into the hallway, blocking their path back to the cavern. Soon they were dealing with both the robed female and the statue. Each attack from the statue dealt both physical damage and energy damage, sometimes fire, sometimes acid, sometimes cold. It was also soon clear that the party had encountered something that shrugged off some of the damage they did to it. Talon took it upon himself to quickly search the room for secret doors, but found none.


As Kugel began to summon a rhinoceros, Malf’s arrows sent the robed female crumpling in a heap on the ground. The party then turned all its attention on the statue. But just as they were fully engaged, the second statue also came to life, and advanced on the party. The first statue hurled some sort of splashing/exploding object into the room damaging several party members. Gregor decided it was time to channel positive energy to heal the party, but this also healed the robed female who suddenly turned invisible.

Halmod, also invisible (as was Kugel) snuck past the attacking statue in the hallway and attempted to locate some means to deactivate the creature in the alcoves, but found nothing. Malf cast “glitterdust” on the area where the robed female had last been seen, and managed to outline her invisible body, making her a target. Talon instantly attacked her with his short swords doing significant damage.

“Don’t kill me,” she said. “I can help you find…”

Malf’s arrows cut her off and she fell dead to the floor.

Kugel summoned a second Rhinoceros and soon both were goring the first statue mercilessly. Still it took a long time to go down, and it took one rhino with it. In the tight quarters of the hallway, the summoned rhinoceroses kept the statue from attacking the party directly and while they missed more than they hit, when they did hit, they did massive damage.


Eventually both statues were destroyed.

The party then realized the door to the cavern was shut.

And that’s where we stopped for the night.