Instructables

How to make a wire octopus sculpture (simplified). Cheap and easy but possibly not so quick.

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I chose something simple and easy…and then I simplified the details (read: removed details and simplified forms).  See the finished Octopus above and be warned, it may be dry reading but I hope you end up with a cool wire sculpture by the end. Caffeine will help, ungodly amounts were consumed over the course of creating this Instructable. In the end, it turned out to be a little more work and planning than I expected. A second ‘ible is in the works (Praying Mantis), much easier, oddly, thought it would be more complex, but o’well.

I’d like to thank everyone who expressed an interest, it really pushed me through to completing the documentation of the process.
 
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Step 1: Plan, reference and gather.

Picture of Plan, reference and gather.
010.JPG
Is that 3 steps? They all go together, so let’s not haggle the semantics and just agree to call it the first step.

If you’ve worked in three dimensions before, you can probably skip this whole section but I’ll just let you know how I get down.

Think of something you’d want to do, the size you want to do it, the base you want to put it on (if you want to use a base), etc.
Find some reference material or create some reference material. This is optional but if you want to create something realistic or something that resembles “your idea”, you’ll want some scale drawings. Generally, I’ll print off some outlines “to scale” of the things I’ll be doing, found on the internet or in a book, movie, whatever (modified, if need be). You can also just zoom in or out of pictures on your computer screen, and use that, but putting wires and rulers up against your screen is a bad idea, you could scratch it.

I didn’t print off any outlines this time, I figured the shape was familiar enough that I didn’t need it. I did do a quick sketch in MS Paint just to remind myself of a few reference points I got from a few pictures I’ve seen online. Since I don’t own the pictures I won’t be putting them up here, but if you click the links below, you can see what I saw…used.

Links-

Google image search for “octopus”

https://www.google.ca/search?q=octopus&hl=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=-neXT9bbHvK10AHmzdyBBw&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CBoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1041&bih=680

Google image search for “octopus outline”

https://www.google.ca/search?q=octopus&hl=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=-neXT9bbHvK10AHmzdyBBw&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CBoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1041&bih=680#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=octopus+outline&oq=octopus+outline&aq=f&aqi=g4g-m1&aql=&gs_nf=1&gs_l=img.12..0l4j0i5.17766575.17770255.0.17774116.8.8.0.0.0.0.82.604.8.8.0.4uCkbhO5xjw&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=7d03d2890e98d1ae&biw=1041&bih=680

Google image search for “octopus mouth anatomy”

https://www.google.ca/search?q=octopus&hl=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=-neXT9bbHvK10AHmzdyBBw&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CBoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1041&bih=680#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=octopus+mouth+anatomy&oq=octopus+mouth&aq=3&aqi=g4g-S1&aql=&gs_nf=1&gs_l=img.1.3.0l4j0i24.73448.74434.2.79838.5.5.0.2.2.0.78.225.3.3.0.75I6kvhTnBk&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=7d03d2890e98d1ae&biw=1041&bih=680

Google image search for “ocean seaweed”

https://www.google.ca/search?q=octopus&hl=en&prmd=imvns&source=lnms&tbm=isch&ei=-neXT9bbHvK10AHmzdyBBw&sa=X&oi=mode_link&ct=mode&cd=2&ved=0CBoQ_AUoAQ&biw=1041&bih=680#hl=en&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=ocean+seaweed&oq=ocean+seaweed&aq=f&aqi=g2g-m1g-mS2&aql=&gs_nf=1&gs_l=img.3..0l2j0i5j0i5i24l2.63815.69183.4.74858.15.15.1.1.1.0.109.1022.12j1.13.0.V3w0X7Alujw&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=7d03d2890e98d1ae&biw=1041&bih=680

I’ll be doing a 4.5”/11.5cm long octopus on a 3.37”/8.5cm metal lid (from a pickle or pasta sauce jar, I forget), I’ll turn it into a magical seaweed floor. After project edit: ok, it’s not so magical…

Once you have the size and reference worked out, figure out what you’ll need to get it done.

For this project (and most others of this sort) you’ll just need some wires and some pliers (and some wire cutters if there are no cutters integrated into your pliers).

Specifically, I will be using:

1. Husky 6 piece Precision Wire Set (bought from Home Depot for this instructable, $7, just to prove cheap can work fine).
2. 18 gauge galvanized wire, bought accidently when I was grabbing a bunch of the 20 gauge spools from Canadian Tire (usually I’d use the far cheaper 18g roll from Home Depot, Rona, etc, but they don’t have 20g, which is why I was grabbing those…but I digress…$6 for the spool I got, $3 for the roll at Home Depot). Used for the core, “skeleton”, being slightly thicker than the “wrap” makes it easier, but it’s not mandatory, if you only have a single gauge, then using a single gauge for everything will be just fine. Used about 3 yards or 3 meters or 9 feet.
3. 20 gauge galvanized wire (bought for this instructable, $6 at Canadian Tire), for the “wrap around and fill it out” portion. Guessing I’ll use at least 20 yards, 20 meters, 60 feet (turns out, that’s about what I used, judging from what’s left on the spool).
4. Loctite thick Gel Super Glue to help with odd fitting pieces (you’ll see later, it’s just way easier than making everything perfect or having to hold dozens of wires in the perfect position…you can use any glue or epoxy putty you like, no need to run out and buy what I happen to use, they all work). Actually, you can avoid super  glue but it’ll just be easier in a few places if you use it.
5. A base to display your work on. I’ll be using a metal lid I saved from a large jar.
--Bondo on the lid, need sandpaper to remove the paint from the lid or at least rough it up for adhesion, also to sand the bondo (used 220 grit, anything in the 160 to 400 range should work fine, 400 will take forever to flatten the bondo though, if it’s horribly done like I end up doing).
-JB Weld 2-part epoxy for holding wires to the base.
6. Additional items that help but aren’t needed
-fine tip marker to mark measurements on the wires, help plan things on any reference sheets you make/print (mark center lines! Not so important on this particular project but others you’ll regret it if you don’t). I do lots of visual art stuff, so I’ve got dozens of brands on hand. For marking wires, I like Sharpies the best, any will do but Sharpie is just better.
-rulers, calipers, etc, used to measure things and keep things accurate (obviously silly!). I got these inexpensive plastic calipers (Vernier) which have made me wonder how I lived without them ($10 for a set of 6 at Lee Valley, I’ve seen them elsewhere but LV’s seemed to be cheaper and more accurate).
-I’ll add “finishing supplies” here. Some people want the metal to show, some want it to rust, some like it coloured up bright or realistic, etc. So it’s up to you how you finish it off, I’ll be priming and painting everything with Tremclad Rust. Priming is important, don’t skip it.

Now get everything together and get ready to start wire bending! And pretend like you’re really excited, so I feel cool.

Almost forgot, most important thing for me is a big cup of ice and a huge bottle of Coke Zero. Caffeine is my friend and we’re very close. You can’t have any of my Coke, don’t ask, it doesn’t like you. But I’m sure there’s a lovely bottle at your local store anxious to make your acquaintance…just not my bottle!
Jayefuu2 years ago
Wow that's excellent!
Thrasym (author)  Jayefuu2 years ago
Thanks buddy.
cool
Thrasym (author)  Dusk Shadows2 years ago
I swear I replied to these earlier! (see my explanation in the other response)

Thanks buddy.

Disclaimer: No vampires were harmed in the making of this instructable.
Haha good because i would have killed you if you hurt my family!
p.s when did you reply???
Thrasym (author)  Dusk Shadows2 years ago
It would have been within a day, 24 hours. I was all excited when I submitted the 'ible, kept getting messages on my phone when it got featured, put on the front page, commented on, etc, so I was checking the site every hour or two for several days (tracking views and how long it would remain on the front page).
ahh ok
That is crazy amazing! Awesome finished product!
Thrasym (author)  Penolopy Bulnick2 years ago
I swear I replied to these earlier! (see my explanation in the other response)

I had lots of "issues" while making this project, the end result is...far from ideal...being my own worst critic. So it was really a ray of sunshine getting such a glowing response.

Thank you for that.
Great explanation and pictures! I really like the seaweed stand - looks very clean. :)
Thrasym (author)  jessyratfink2 years ago
I was just looking at how the new picture layout is working on my instructable and noticed I'm missing a few responses. I'm certain I replied but it's not showing up. I probably did it on my Blackberry, I lose lots of replies that way, I lose them on the PC too, but not as often, not sure why, maybe a timer?

Anyway, sorry it's so late but, thank you for the support. It is really encouraging.