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Another source for a base for your totems - try one hour photo places.
They purchase their supplies on a roll - - - (we use them for support
with clay vases, I have a friend that cut them on a table saw -
different angles, lengths - for sculptures... printing wheels...) they
are about 15" long and maybe 4" diameter.
For small-scale totems, how about sculpey clay on dowel rods? You can
glue the clay onto the rod and bake assembled. It really takes very
little clay to make some terrific designs. I use sculpey with my
classes because it is so soft, but I guess any polymer clay would work.
You could also make clay rings that would stack together -
What about PVC pipe and found objects to make a contemporary version?
You could paint the pipe, drill through the pipe to attach things with
string or wire... but I don't know about gluing.