Craft Section

Sculpting Tankards

By Andrew Pieper aka TaleSpinner

Ever want a custom tankard for a tavern diorama? Does your dwarf have nothing to drink his ale from? This tutorial will guide you to sculpt your own cups and tankards.

Materials Needed:

  • Epoxy sculpting putty (I use Kneadatite Green Stuff.)
  • Petroleum jelly (Use this lightly to lubricate your tools and keep the epoxy from sticking to them.)
  • Metal sculpting tool (I use a leaf-bladed dental tool and a custom made tool, but any tool you are comfortable with when placing and shaping putty will be fine.)
  • Hobby knife
  • Flat and cupped color or clay shapers (These are indispensable if you will be doing any serious sculpting or conversion using epoxy putty.)
  • Metal rod the diameter of the inside of the tankard you will create. Cut or grind the end square, with slightly rounded edges. Sand the end of the rood with_400 grit sand paper to ensure that it is very smooth.
  • Cutting board or other flat work surface on which you do not mind getting petroleum jelly.


Thoroughly mix the putty as directed by the manufacturer.
Take a small piece of the putty and form it into a square, flat sheet as shown:
Dip the end of the metal rod into the petroleum jelly to coat it.
Wrap the putty sheet around the end of the rod and roll it in your fingers to seal it around the end of the rod. Ensure that a small amount of the putty sticks out beyond the end of the rod. It will form a blunt point.
Apply a very thin coat of petroleum jelly to the surface of your cutting board.
Roll the putty and rod on the cutting board to make it smooth and uniform as shows:
Lightly press the end of the putty down into the board. This will flatten and flare the bottom of the tankard.
Using the hobby knife, lightly scribe a line around the base of the tankard where the flare meets the tankard body.
Use the cupped clay shaper to smooth the sides of the tankard as needed to even them out.
Take a very small amount of putty and roll it into a thin thread, about 1 mm thick and 1 cm long.
Cut the tapered ends off of the thread. The finished handle should be about 7 mm.
Using the sculpting tool, press one end of the handle to the side of the tankard near the bottom (the handle at this point should be stuck on and extending below the bottom of the tankard).
Curl the handle upward so that the top end points back toward the bottom forming the handle. Smooth the end into the tankard.
Use the cupped clay shaper to smooth and blend everything together.
Use the knife to cut around the top of the tankard, separating the tankard from the excess putty.
Use the flat clay shaper to smooth and even-out the edge of the tankard.
Using the knife, scribe a line around the lip of the tankard.
Allow the putty to cure, usually 1-2 hours, though you should follow the manufacturer's recommendations.
Remove the tankard from the rod, and wash it thoroughly with dish detergent to remove the petroleum jelly.

Paint as desired.

Here's the final product, deftly painted by Michael Pageau.

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