Thursday, 20 February 2014

Triffids Tutorial

Back in Sept 2012 (YIKES has it been that long??) I made some model Triffids from some odds and ends. These models can be seen here. Back then I promised a tutorial but time passed and it never happened, until now. 

So are ready to have a go at building these critter plant thingies?? 

The first step is to go raiding into the kitchen....

You will need the following items.

A plastic Drinking Straw
Some wire plastic food bag ties
A plastic Birthday cake holder
Something to use as a base

In addition you will need some modelling putty and the following tools:
A pair of scissors
A cigarette lighter, candle or matches. 
A screw driver
A Hot Glue Gun.

Superglue can be used in place of a Hot Glue Gun but I find that Super Glue gets everywhere and you end up with all manner of unwanted items stuck to your hands. 

Cut a piece of drinking straw to make the center of the flower. Make sure that this is cut quite a bit longer than required. If it is too long you can easily trim just before final assembly. 

Slide the bit of drinking straw over the screw driver. This will enable you to hold it for the next phase. 

IMPORTANT: The next part will require using a naked flame and a little melting. Take care when working with a naked flame and ensure the necessary fire precautions have been taken. When melting work in a well ventilated area - preferably outside.

You are aiming to melt one end of the drinking straw. Move the straw towards then naked flame with the flame nearer one end. You will notice that it will start to melt a few centimeters from the flame. This is what you want. DO NOT move the straw closer. It will catch fire and you will lose control of the melting. 

Make the naked flame safe once you are done. 

It is an idea at this stage to trim the unmelted  end of the drinking straw with the scissors. 

Trim a bit of the spike off the cake candle holder but leave enough to glue it the stem. Note: If using superglue then it would help to sand down the surfaces of the candle holder to aid glue adhesion.

Now take a few wire ties. These will make the stem. I used six but you can use more if you wish. More can be added at a later stage if you want a thicker stem.

Twist the ties together about a third of  the way up and leave the ends untwisted. Fan one end out. This will make the plant roots/base. 

Twist all the way up but leave some ties out too the sides. These will make leaves.

Twist the leaves at the sides at their base (closest to the plant). Use the scissors to shape the ends to give them a leaf appearance. 

Hot glue onto the base of choice. I am using a plastic Warlord base but a miniature base, washer or coin would also work. 

Now hot glue the candle holder to the stem. Note: At this stage more ties can be added to the stem if desired.

Now hot glue the center of the flower into the candle holder. 

Take some putty and roll it into strands. Twist these strands to give  a fibrous look. 

Now start to wind the strands around the plant stem. They can make extra roots too. 

Keep adding strands until you are happy.

When the putty has cured undercoat, base and paint as desired. 

Soon your tabletop warriors will have a new threat to contend with. 

One of the good things about using cake candle holders is that they come in many different petal designs. This can allow a mix of different plants. These plants are intended to be carnivorous like the Triffids on the silver screen. However if you desired to make normal plants there is nothing stopping you using the heads/candle holders in a upright position rather than at 90 degrees. 

I hope this tutorial has inspired you. If you have a go at making these plants I would love to see them.



  1. Thats a simple but clever idea well executed, plus a comprehensive tutorial.

    Top marks, thanks! I will definitely add some of these to my Deathworld jungle project. When I do I will report back.

    Thanks again.

  2. I like the candle holder idea, very nice. The effect overall is fantastic!

    Could offer an alternative to the green stuff though? I reckon you could substitute it with twine (the plastic type) and coat it with PVA. Just an idea.