These are true stories on the most cute sirian hamster girls who came out of the blue and turned my life upside down. While I had always been dreaming of having a kitten, one day I saw Lilly in a pet store and couldn't take my eyes of her. So I took her home. And, yes, you may say that I named and got friendly with a cat food but to me sirian hamsters are just perfect. Even if they are half blind like Kropeczka or left behind like Nutka. Welcome to the Fluffy Toughie world!
As you know, clay burrows are one of hamster favourite hideouts. They are natural, non toxic, feel good under paws and give this pleasant, cool chill in hot summer days. That's why I'm gonna show you the clay burrow processing.
FOR CRAFTING A CLAY BURROW LIKE THIS YOU'RE GONNA NEED:
- 1 kg of self hardening clay (f.e. JOVI Terracotta)*,
- a bowl with a little bit of tap water,
- a dish min. Ø 20 cm wide,
- a cutting tool (f.e. blunt knife, line),
- a ruler,
- a board (any that can be washed later),
- disposable gloves if you're alergic to clay (or dirt), otherwise I recommend using bare hands 'cause not many things compares to the feeling of smooth, wet terracotta under your fingers ;-)
* There are many different products on the market nowadays. Make sure the one you choose is non-toxic and animal friendly.
Take all of your accessories and make yourself comfy at the table. Use the board as your coaster and unpack the clay on it. It looks like a chocolate in the silver paper, doesn't it? Watch out 'cause it can get messy ;-) Good clay should be soft and humid, just like plasticine.
What you need to do is to cut out a small, about 1 cm wide and 10 cm long (on the later stage about 5 cm long), piece of clay using your cutting tool and separate it on a board. Having it done, always wrap the clay back in the paper so that it won't dry! In case it did, you've got this bowl of water, to wet your fingers (just a little bit) and water the clay again.
Now, what we've got to do, is to make a long, caterpillar-like roll from this little piece of clay. Depending on what size burrow you're making, the rolls will be shorter or longer (that's something you must figure out yourself) but all of them should look somewhat like this:
SCALING AND FITTING
And here comes the plate! I bet you wondered, what the hec we need it for ;-) Well, it's very handy in scaling our rolls to the size of the burrow and also helps putting them in right place while crafting. Remember that our burrow is supposed to be wide at the bottom and narrow on top. Also don't forget about the entrance hole big enough to let your fuzzy friend in and out.
As you've probably noticed, the real fun has already started. At this point you must repeat steps 2 - 4 as long as needed for receiving something that looks like the clay burrow in the first and the last pictures of this tutorial ;-) That means you add new layers of clay rolls one by one, fastening them together thoroughly (outside and inside). The higher you go, the shorter your rolls should be. Continue, until you reach the hight of the entrance. When you do that, prepare the next roll, bend it like shown in the picture below and fasten it to the side layers:
This is our entrance, our triumphal arch, 'cause if you got to this point, certeinly you will be successful having your own clay burrow soon ;-) And don't worry if your little work of art is lop-sided; there's nothing what can't be fixed while crafting in clay. See how I improoved this crapy arch from the previous picture...? It looks much better now:
If only you keep your terracotta humid and soft, and stick to the steps 2-5, everything should go peachy but once your roll layers reach the hight of the entrance you must change your tactics. See what happened? We don't need to go around the entrance hole anymore! :-)
From now on we need our caterpillar-like rolls to be more like closed rings, like links in the chain. You have to shape each next one properly before adding it to the construction.
At this point you're actually there. You may add a few more layers and leave your clay burrow open if you wish so, or you may also continue until your layers meet on the top, eventually closing the construction. I chose another way: I wanted my burrow to be generally open but also closed when needed so I made this little top-cap:
Start with a small ring made of another clay-roll, fitting the highest layer of your clay rolls. This one may seem tricky since we don't cheat with the plate this time but I'm sure you'll manage.
Going up, add more layers of clay rings, every smaller than the previous one, as long as needed for receiving a cap-shaped object. You may also make some kind of an ornament to decorate your art work. In the end, leave all the pieces for few hours in medium sunlight so that the clay rest and self-harden.
And that's it, ladies and gentlemen. That's the whole philosophy of crafting a self-made clay burrow for your hamster, rat, mouse, gerbil or any other kind of our dear rodents that likes cool, shady hideouts.
Remember, be creative! :-) Don't be affraid of trying new ways of using the clay: squeeze it, toast it, roll it, stroke it and pull it to discover new possibilities. It's YOUR clay burrow and now that you know how to make it, no one's gonna tell you how it should or not should look like. Good luck with that one! :-)
Ups, I almost forgot: in the picture below there is an example of using such an object inside the cage. As you can see, I put some fresh dill/parsley into the clay burrow. Kropeczka loves this trick, because their stalks are like little roots inside this 'cave' and she may also collect the leaves freely (she drags them to her nest and makes her bedding of them).
I WOULD LOVE TO SEE YOUR CLAY BURROWS
IF YOU HAPPEN TO CRAFT ONE (OR MORE :-))
PLEASE, LINK IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW
THERE MAY BE SOMETHING FOR YOU AND YOUR PUPIL IN IT :-)