Quick background story, I took what was supposed to be a short break from doing game reviews because I was prepping for a data transfer between computers:

Curse you!!

I have been delaying the inevitable for a while as my desktop computer slowly tries to die. It was top of the line for its time, but its time was 10 years ago. In recent years, my computer has started throwing “no boot disc” errors. usually in the middle of the night, sometimes while I’m in the middle of something. I’ve found workarounds to make my computer work again, but I suspect this won’t work forever (as is the case with my mom’s computer, the exact same model and it ate itself last year… however, I wasn’t there to do the resurrecting.) I didn’t want to get another computer until I could get one comparable to the quality of mine back in the day. I have things to do!

So the new computer came… and it had no hard drive. For the computer illiterate, it is the memory storage. It would be like buying a really good smart phone with an excellent camera, speakers, beautiful display screen, but there is no memory storage. No room for photos, no room for apps, and it can’t even function. But it looks pretty!

So off it went to the manufacturer’s and that phone call took my husband over 2 hours just to reach the right person. We are still waiting on the “repair”.

While we waited… we hatched a plan

We decided we wanted a fun way to store our specialty dice (meaning the dice outside your typical six sided dice with pips/dots on them), so we decided to make a mimic.

I have worked with pottery and ceramics before, even took a pottery class in college. My professor disliked everything I did involving the pottery wheel. His disapproval was delivered softly, “Hey, that’s pretty not bad. Put a hole in it and make it a planter because it’s not good for anything else.” This went on for months until we were allowed to sculpt. I sculpted a koi fish and his approval was worse than his disapproval. “Woah! Who made this?” I told him I did. “No, seriously, who made it?” I had to sculpt a few more pieces before he believed it was my work.

I dedicate this piece to my old professor who didn’t believe I did the work… said half jokingly.

Details:

We got some inexpensive wooden chests from the craft store and some air dry clay. I didn’t feel comfortable using the polymer clay with wood… I know it can be done at low temps over a long period of time, but I don’t feel like monopolizing an oven all day for that yet and it is getting too warm to have the oven on all day. I don’t own a kiln to use traditional clay, nor would the wood survive temps over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit (over 1000 degrees Celsius).

So I made the conscious decision to take longer and do air dry, without fully being prepared for everything that it would entail.

this is a backdraft, btw

I sculpted directly into the chest after disassembling it. Good thing is it has a firm grip on the wood. Bad thing: the moisture was now sealed between the clay and the wood. Drying time for 1 cm of clay is approx 24 hours. Of course this is a lot more than 1 cm and this dumb dumb put one side of it against wood.

For those unfamiliar with pottery and ceramics, natural clay has to be dry before being able to do anything else. If it isn’t, you will end up sealing in the moisture and the clay will essentially rot from the inside out.

It thoroughly gave Thing 1 the creeps.

bacteria and mold growth on wet clay

After four days of the mimic’s eyes taunting me every time I walked by, I took a hair dryer to it.

Side note:

I asked Thing 1 to model her frenulum for me as my hands were covered in clay and I couldn’t look in a mirror. Thing one told me to “Stop being weird and go look it up.” I asked Thing 2 and she gladly modeled. So yes, the tongue is so creepy in thanks to Thing 2.

Anterior view of open mouth showing underside of tongue. SOURCE: Original art. Fairview.org

The moisture in the box caused the wood to crack and the clay drying causes shrinkage… causing cracks. It was an endless cycle of repairs and hair dryer for a little while.

Bob Ross was amazing

Finally!!!! I was able to paint! Now, painting with acrylics on natural clay is very different from using a glaze and firing it and also different from painting polymer clay. It was being absorbed into the clay as I painted thus drying almost instantaneously. There was no room for error. Blending was a nightmare.

Adjusting shadows and highlights often took several tries. “Oops, too dark, now it’s too light. Great, now it looks cartoony.”

I used a polyurethane seal in multiple layers (thicker on the bottom) to a) seal the clay from exposure to moisture in the future b) to make a protective shell c) used a high gloss formula to make the inside of the mimic perpetually moist. It turned out great.

Did you know?

An upwards of 20% of the American population have a word aversion to the word “moist”. Word aversion is also known as Logomisia. Greek – ‘logos’ = word and ‘misia’ = hatred or disgust for.

Top words in Logomisia: moist, drool, cheese, suck, squab, cornucopia, navel/naval, brainchild, crud, slacks, crevice, fudge, and ointment
Lily from How I Met Your Mother, also hates the word “moist”

I had already stained the wood by this point along with using a gold leaf paint (far easier than using gold leaf foil). However, I had planned ahead by using the painters tape to make sure everything was safe while I worked on the inside… I did not take into consideration that the gold leaf would be even too delicate for the painters tape. When I peeled off the the tape, the gold leaf came off in chunks and what was left flapped in the breeze. (Remember when I had just said it was sooooo much easier than using gold leaf foil?)

After re-doing the gold leaf, I painted the fixtures to make them look oxidized (since this chest was supposed to be a water chest). I reassembled the chest and found that the drying process shifted the way the two pieces fit together. The frenulum ended up rubbing on the upper gum and the paint wore off a little (I’ll fix that another day) and the chest ended up with a gape between its… teeth. I had to adjust where I put the closure so I could latch it. And then I sprayed it with a clear, non gloss acrylic sealer and am calling it done. (Please watch the video for the final results. It’s a short video, I promise).

My thoughts

I would not recommend this for anyone who has never done handicrafts. If you are learning any of the techniques I used, this is not a beginner project.

Was it difficult? Yes it was. Do I plan on making more even more grotesque in some way? I sure do.

Fact:

The first mimic appeared in D&D in 1974, but wasn’t fully “fleshed out” until 1977 in the Monster Manual.

That’s right, the mimic is older than Star Wars.
Discussion

Please answer in the comments, on our Facebook page, or Twitter.

Where did you see your first mimic?

Where is your favorite mimic?

The Handeater

Q: Where did you see your first mimic?

A: My first encounter with a mimic was in the 1991 Sega Game: Shining in the Darkness. It was known as a Handeater. It was probably the creepiest compared to the others in the 90’s from the Dragon Quest series, Azure Dreams (which was never a chest), etc. There were some other dungeon crawlers I played with my dad that were under the D&D franchise (on the Commodore 64 and Amiga 2000) although I don’t remember their names nor did I personally encounter them.

Q: Where is your favorite mimic?

A: I honestly don’t have a favorite. I do like the old school style ones because I like old school games. I think my least exciting mimic is from the Breath of Fire series, even though it’s one of my favorite game series.

I’ve been told by several little ones to list the Mimic Queen from World of Final Fantasy because she’s pretty.

Mimic Queen – World of Final Fantasy

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