Introduction: How to Make (Valentines) Tentacles

Picture of How to Make (Valentines) Tentacles

I recently needed to make a tentacle for a different project, I was rather pleased with the results and ultimately came up with several different ways to use the basic tentacle that I'd made. So this is a quick instructable demonstrating how to make the basic tentacle unit and then illustrating some of the things that you can do with them.

This instructable will also be my entry into the valentines contest. My wife is also pretty geeky so I'm sure she'll love the tentacle heart, but shh! Don't tell her before valentines!

As with most of my project nowadays if you can see it you can buy it, this is due to the fact that I'm currently unemployed and I have a lot of time on my hands, but also because selling little things like this, even with these minimal margins, allows me to save up for workshop improvements. So if you're not creative or you haven't got time to make your own then buy one from me and contribute towards my laser cutter/ leak free shed roof fund.

More information and paypal links about the tentacles can be found here (
The Octopus and the other monsters under my laptop can be viewed and purchased here (

Step 1: The Basic Tentacle

Picture of The Basic Tentacle

Tools you will need:
A smooth board to roll clay on.
A smooth piece of plastic to use like a rolling pin (clear plastic allows you to see the tentacle as you roll it).
A scalpel or other sharp knife to cut the clay.
A paintbrush, used to create the shape of the suckers.
2 colours of clay, one for the tentacles and one for the suckers

Start with a block of clay, I used sculpey which comes in 12 handy blocks straight out the packet), so I just cut one of those blocks off.
Kneed the clay until it become malleable,
Sandwich the ball of clay under the plastic sheet, keeping one edge of the sheet against the cutting matt, slowly start to roll the clay into a cone shape.

Taking a much smaller piece of clay for the suckers, roll that clay into a thinner cone, this will become the suckers.
Cut this cone of clay into equal width pieces, because each piece has an equal width but slowly increasing diameter the volume gets larger.
I like to arrange my suckers at this stage into rows that will go onto the tentacle, each tentacle has 2 rows of suckers so if I'm making 2 tentacles I would arrange 4 rows. This ensures that the first row of suckers on the last tentacle are smaller than the second row on the first tentacle (if that make sense).
Roll each of these suckers into a small ball shape trying to make them as round as possible.
Press the point of the paintbrush into the smallest ball, it should stick to the paintbrush, then press the ball against the tentacle, it should leave the brush and stick to the tentacle. (further internet research advises doing this stage on some baking paper which helps with the stickyness)

Arrange the suckers in 2 lines along the tentacle, once complete you can bake it according the instructions on the packet.

Step 2: Making the Valentines Goodness

Picture of Making the Valentines Goodness

As you saw from the previous step I made two tentacles, one red and hopefully a little more girly and a standard green one, presumably male.

Stand the 2 tentacles upright on the table and press the bases together, I also made sure the bottom 2 suckers were also pressed together. This is the main join for the two tentacles, so ensure they are attached firmly.

Gently bend the tentacle into a heart shape, be careful to do this slowly because the clay can tear rather than bend.

Fold the ends of the tentacle right over and press the tips together, making sure there is enough left over to wrap round each other.

Finally wrap the ends of the tentacles around each other and bake to harden.

Instructables user Clonebear made the blue and red tentacles shown in the images. He added a rather fetching puddle underneath which was made by marbling some of the blue tentacle clay with the white sucker clay to provide a neat little water effect.

Step 3: Valentines Tentacle 2

Picture of Valentines Tentacle 2

inspired by a comment from KahlZun I thought that tentacles holding flowers was a good idea.

The flowers were made by taking a 1cm ball of clay and spliiting it into 7 equal sections. Each of these sections were then rolled into a ball and flattened between the fingers.

Gently flatten a small section of the disk so as the make the circle slightly wider on one side (a bit like a guitar pick)

Roll the first disk into a over upon itself so it forms a little spiral and becomes the central bud for the rose.

Wrap the other disks around the central bud continuing on the spiral shape and making the top edge of each petal slightly longer and thinner than the previous.

Once finished the flower is finished it will have formed a stem that you can wrap the end of the tentacle around. Add the flower to a standard tentacle shape and bake as usual. (photos to follow once the wife isnt looking)

Step 4: Fridge Magnet Tentacles

Picture of Fridge Magnet Tentacles

To make the fridge magnet variation you will obviously need a magnet.
You will also need some release agent to remove the magnet prior to baking. I used some KY Jelly, just remember to pull a really big grin at the cashier who sells it to you to see who will blush first.

Start the tentacle cone as usual, but this time when the wide end starts to form press the lubricated magnet into it.

Finish the tentacle as usual and form it into the desired shape.

To remove the magnet take the stack of magnets and place it against the base, they'll stick and you can pull it out, leaving a hole the right size. Once baked you can glue the magnet back in to the hole.

Make four and arrange them on your fridge in interesting patterns.

Step 5: Tentacle Box

Picture of Tentacle Box

The tentacle box has 4 of the standard tentacles attached to it.

They are pressed onto the edge of the box so that form a lip on the end of the tentacle, this helps relocate them once they have been baked and stops them being pulled off so easily.

The other trick with the tentacle box is to leave the tentacles exposed to the air in the desired position overnight, this way they harden slightly and won't loose their desired shapes when baked.

Step 6: Monster Under My Laptop

Picture of Monster Under My Laptop

Finally for this instructable is the octopus under my laptop,

These tentacles were made with 1 and a half blocks of sculpey and the rest of the pack went into making the head. The head was shaped over a ping pong ball but became distorted when I realised I couldn't bake the ball and had to remove it. I think it worked well.

This is one of a series of monsters that I created to fit in the gap created under my laptop by it's fan pad. The others are all viewable on my own site (


Sabsta (author)2013-02-14

This is so awesome xD Must try this for the next occasion :3

Piripanda (author)2011-02-15

Awww, sea monsters also have a heart ♥
Thank you for sharing, it's a very original and easy to make idea (and you can do so many other things with it!!)

Dream Dragon (author)2011-01-22

Very effective and simple, thank you for sharing it.

cheesedanish721 (author)2011-01-13

First of all, I absolutely love these things! They're so freaking cute, and I'm definitely going to make some of these. Although, I was sort of confused as to how you did the box tentacles. Did you attach them with some sort of glue or are they just sorta chillin' there. Also, where would you get a box like that? I love these things, and I'd love to make something like this! Thanks!

Orchid-Black (author)2010-09-20

This is great! I adore cephalopods, and this will definitely have to be the next thing I do once commissions are completed. I only have plain sculpy at the moment, though, so I suppose I'll have to paint it afterwards.

Little Owl (author)2010-09-19

Would it be alright to use Earthenware/Ceramic clay instead of Polymer? I'm in a Clay Art class, and that is all we have. :)

arpoky (author)2010-09-01

I don't really know what to make of this, and if I did, I wouldn't post it. (This is the part where you say "Eeeeewwwwwwwwww"...)

shebzilla (author)2010-04-16

I love it!!!  This was my morning craft today :)  Thanks for the great instructable!

thonosv (author)2010-02-05

It's a little creepy looking but really cool though :]

chokolatmoose6 (author)thonosv2010-03-26

 cthulu anyone?

Biohazard1194 (author)2010-02-25

Great job on the contest win! :D

luvit (author)2010-02-24

 remember the sticky rubber octopuses that you;d throw against the wall and it would slowly crawl down? i once at at a chinese buffet that served those. but they tasted better.

DucttapeNinja (author)2010-02-18

My girlfriend and I have a running joke going about Cthulhu, so this would be perfect.
I like your addition of Purple Tentacle. XP That was my childhood, right there.

bugsyandspike (author)2010-02-18

me and my son made 2 tentacular hearts, one for the missus and one for our daughter. we put a little flat base on them to make them a bit more stable. great valentine presents. they loved them. ta.

deofthedead (author)2010-02-17

I absolutely had to make these. My girlfriend loved them, wouldn't stop gushing about them all day, so thank you for the inspiration! These are from just before I baked them. Novice error, though I shoulda known better: I didn't support the back green tentacle well enough, and ended up with the whole thing sagging a little.. Had to super glue the central rose back in. So, anyone else, learn from my mistake- always add something to support those tentacles when you make it really big!

AwajiMan (author)2010-02-16

 This is great!
Brings back memories of the Lucasarts classic Day of the Tentacle :D

masynmachien (author)2010-02-15

I just had to happen ;-): With just a little help, my 10 year old daughter made the tentacle hart for her boyfriend.
She used glow-in-the-dark polymer clay for the "suckers". Of course you will get our vote.

Catskinner01 (author)2010-02-14

Thank you both!  Because of the two of you, my wife got this at breakfast this Valentines Day.

hughscott5 (author)2010-02-12

Thank you so much for this Instructable!!! I made them for my girlfriend and she loved them!! Here are some pictures... (I decided to make them all magnets)

KahlZun (author)2010-02-09

The idea originally came from this T-shirt:

KahlZun (author)2010-02-08

Oh wow..

Nice to know I'm inspiring!

masynmachien (author)2010-02-04

Great idea! Great Ible!

I am curious though, why do you remove the magnet before baking?
I have baked magnets with polymer projects several times, without problem. See for instance

The baking temperature was to low to affect the magnets. They were of the neodymium type. It could be different for other types, but I guess the baking temperature of 110°C is to low for almost any type of magnets to affect them.
Of course you can not microwave them.

Baking with the magnets in place also removes the need to glue them back in. In most cases anyway. If I do need to glue the magnets, I use superglue.

90mp11 (author)masynmachien2010-02-04

The magnet has a higher thermal conductivity so will heat up faster than the clay. It may cause the surrounding polymer clay to cure faster, which can lead to unsightly blemishes on your model in the end.

Also, you may not notice the drop in strength of your magnets, but i assure you there is one, as you will realign the atomic structure with the heat.

masynmachien (author)90mp112010-02-04

After about a dozen magnets baked together with polymer clay, I never noticed any blemishes. I always use fimo brand polymer clay. It could be sculpey has more  problems with it, as I've read it is more sensitive to overbaking. But still I would be surprised. What could make difference is a difference in thermal transfer between hot air/magnet and hot air/polymer clay, but actually there is no reason to expect that, as in both cases we are talking about smooth surfaced solids. Actually, the thermal capacity probably the most important factor. And the thermal capacity of metals is generally high compared to polymers. And the high internal thermal conductivity means the surface of the magnet does not heat up much faster than the inside. Therefore the whole of the magnet will rather suck up a lot of heat, having the polymer clay bake a litter slower, rather than faster.

And in applications where I realy needed high strength (magnetic joints for a self standing action figure) I did indeed not notice any strenght loss. I guess at 110°C the neodymium magnets are not affected. Magnets in electric motors probably also reach that kind temperatures in for example a number of RC applications. It is well known that electric motors can lose their power when overheating (that is why they are often cooled), but good ones wo'nt yet at 110°C, at least not irreversably.

msraynsford (author)masynmachien2010-02-08

I baked some today, I saw no obvious reduction in magnetic strength, although it was a little bit akward to get them on and off the tray and ultimately they did not remain in the clay so they had to be glued in anyways.

masynmachien (author)msraynsford2010-02-08

Yes, that can be a problem. I put the pieces on a dinner plate and after baking I take the plate out of the oven, before taking of the pieces.

I use the plate upside down, to avoid any polymer clay stains on the side you eat on. Actually I never noticed any stains and any invisible traces are baked and therefore will not react to anything else. But as I would not like to accidently eat on any invisible PVC traces, I still do it that way.

msraynsford (author)90mp112010-02-04

Um, yeah, what they said.

Everybody knows magnets lose strength when they are heated, but I have no idea to what heat and what kind of magnets. Mostly I just didn't want to risk killing the magnets or burning the clay. It's not much more difficult doing it this way so this was the way I did it.

masynmachien (author)msraynsford2010-02-08

Sure, better safe than sorry.

And with my way of working you miss out on the blushing contest when buying the KY Jelly!

However, If you ever want to conceal the magnets by incorporating them completely in the clay (near the surface), it is good to know you can bake neodymium (and possibly other types) at 110°C without an obvious drop in strength.

KahlZun (author)2010-02-07

I'm gonna make one that holds a flower!

aka: tentacle love...

TishDaFish (author)2010-02-05

Instead of using a ping pong ball for the head of your creatures, you can use a styrofoam ball. The ball will shrink during baking, so it can be removed through a small hole, or if your okay with it rattling whenever you move it, it can just stay inside. Just don't leave the styrofoam and polymer clay together too long before baking, because the clay WILL melt the styrofoam.

But exellent ideas!

rabidpotatochip (author)2010-02-05

"I recently needed to make a tentacle for a different project..."  For some reason, I found that phrase hilarious...

Anyway, great instructable.  ;)

beackmaniax (author)2010-02-05

It's aweasome and easy to do ! five stars ! great job !

Ashmash32 (author)2010-02-04

If you left the tentacles out to form little hooks they can be used for jewlery! :D These are adorable btw!

Mehehehful (author)2010-02-04

I LOVE THIS! soooooo awesome and cute!!

leafrog (author)2010-02-04

I applaud and approve of your invention and use of the word "Tentacular". Bravo!

And way cool project, I'll be making some of these!

batimiriam (author)2010-02-04

oomg!! so freakin amazing!!! totally gonna try... :D thanks!

canida (author)2010-02-03

Awesome!  Please post the other tentacle project.

msraynsford (author)canida2010-02-04

The other tentacle project was the octopus under the laptop. These valentines tentacles were secondary to that project.

peterman921 (author)2010-01-30

use a ball of aluminum foil inside the head or larger portions of your sculptures
to provide support and use less material.

msraynsford (author)peterman9212010-01-31

This is definitely good advice,
I plan to carve a shape the same size as the head and cover it with silicon paper, then the clay should release from the shape without too many issues.

gardenwife (author)msraynsford2010-02-04

I think you can add the clay around the armature, no need to remove it. That way it will be more durable than a hollow head would be.

msraynsford (author)gardenwife2010-02-04

I'm a bit worried about baking these things when they are attached to another object. When I place them on a tray the ends tend to get a little burnt which I can only put down to better heat conduction through the tray than just silicon paper on it's own.
As for durability the head has 3-4mm of clay all over it and bakes quite solid. The octopus is then glued under the laptop stand so it's unlikely to ever have any force on it anyway.

Armatures are definitely an option and a good idea for some projects, just not neccessary for this one.

eblisster (author)2010-02-04

I bet you could make these out of edible materials and they'd look great as cake decorations or creepy treats.

msraynsford (author)eblisster2010-02-04

That's a fantastic idea, take some ready roll icing and colour it with some food colouring. The same basic principles should apply.
Will make some if I ever get any icing in.

gardenwife (author)2010-02-04

I don't even have to look at other entries, though I will of course. This is terrific! You are a talented sculptor. That octopus is amazing. Great job.

Biohazard1194 (author)2010-02-03

I've never really been good with clay but this looked easy enough-- It was :D
I made one for my friend for Valentines day, but mine is blue and light purple.
Faved, 5 starred. Thanks :D

tim_n (author)2010-02-01

Genius - so simple.  I love it :D

Lettucehead (author)2010-01-31

 I love this! My friend and I love doing clay projects, and this is the perfect thing to make her for Valentine's day!

This is one of my clay instructables.

hughscott5 (author)2010-01-30

Fist off I gotta say that this idea is awesome, I'm seriously fighting the urge to run to the craft store and get clay right now. I was wondering what kind of glue did you use to attach the magnet? Thanks!!

msraynsford (author)hughscott52010-01-31

I just used white glue, but I have a whole box of different glues and I tried several types before finding the right one.

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