Cork Squid Totem

Introduction: Cork Squid Totem

About: I'm cheap and like to use what I have on hand and I really enjoy taking things apart to salvage parts. Rather than be a precise engineering type of person, I'm more of an enthusiastic tinkerer. Making things...

When I made my Bar Fliesdcivarson observed that by adding an eye hook to them they would make great Christmas ornaments. This got me thinking about what sort of subjects would make good hangable ornaments as the flies are a little compact. My mind went along the lines of something that was flowing that took up space without being solid and bulky. Eventually I hit upon the idea of a squid because the arms and tentacles would let it take up space without being solid. Plus squid are creepy predators that I find interesting, but would really prefer never to find in my bathtub. So maybe my choice of the squid is some sort of unconscious primitive instinct to create a totem to repel something slightly disturbing to my mind. Or maybe I'm just over thinking this a bit. Anyway, here's how you can create your own cork squid.

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Step 1: Tools and Materials

Here's a list to the tools and materials I used to create the cork squid. As with any project based on salvaged materials this is more of a guide as the specific parts you have on hand will vary.


  • Utility knife
  • Scissors/wire cutters
  • Drill bit(s) the same diameter as your wire
  • Small flat file
  • Pen
  • Adhesive ( I began with Shoe Goo but switched to gel superglue for reasons to be discussed later)
  • Adhesive applicator (a.k.a. an old gift card)


  • 1 cork, preferably with an uneven head like shape (see picture)
  • 2 metal disks
  • 1 metal or plastic pen tip
  • 1 screw that can be threaded into the wide end of the pen tip
  • 8 pieces of wire approximately 2 inches long
  • 2 wrapped wires with plugs approximately 12 inches long
  • 1 wire control clip ( see picture as I have no idea of the official name)

Step 2: Begin With the Eyes

I chose to begin my squid construction with the eyes. Squid are known for their HUGE eyes that they use to hunt in low light conditions in the depths of the ocean. In order to try and simulate their reflective eyes I used two metal disks I salvaged from the guts of an old cellphone.

Lay the cork on its side and place one of your disks on the "head" end of the cork. I tried to locate mine relatively equidistant from the top and bottom edges of the "head" but since nature is full of variation place your eyes wherever strikes your fancy. Trace the disk with a pen. Then repeat this process on the opposite side of the cork.

With the eye locations marked carve out enough of the cork within the drawn circles so the metal disks can lie below the edge of the cork. This will leave the disks below the edge of the cork and imply an eye socket.

Once you've excavated the cork apply a dab of adhesive to each crater ( I used an old gift card as an applicator) and press the disks in place. Wipe away any adhesive which is displaced by the disk insertion. Then wait for the adhesive to dry/cure.

Step 3: Sculpt the Beak

Next we'll jump to the squid's beak which is uses to kill and consume prey. In my squid totem the beak began life as the tip of a pen.

Threading a screw into the wide end of the pen tip. This makes a nice handle that allows easier manipulation of the pen tip and puts more distance between your fingers and the work area.

With your screw handle in place score a line across the opening at the narrow end of the pen tip. This will help keep your file from slipping.

Now slowing start working your file back and forth across the score line. Go slowly at first so the file doesn't slip as this will mar the finish of the beak. As the trench you're making gets deeper you can increase the speed at which you work the file. Keep this up until you reach a depth that meets your personal standard of squid beakness.

Once you have a satisfactory beak opening unscrew your screw handle and return it to your parts stash for a future project.

Step 4: Install the Beak

Now that you've made the beak and the adhesive holding the eyes in place is dry hold the cork so it is standing on its head. Take your beak and set it on the bottom of the cork wide end down. Twist the beak back and forth or press it down into the cork so it makes an impression. This impression should mark the inner and outer diameters of the wide end of the beak.

Use your utility knife to enlarge and deepen this impression so the beak can be inserted into the cork. When you're done you should end up with a socket that looks like the inverse of a doughnut. Dry fit the wide end of the beak into the socket to ensure it is deep enough to hold the beak in place.

With the beak socket carved to your satisfaction, apply adhesive to the socket and twist the wide end of the beak into it. Wipe away excess adhesive. Wait for the adhesive to dry.

Step 5: Install the Head Crest

With the eyes and beak in place it is time to add a distinctive feature of the squid. The fin like crest that occupies the end of their body not covered in appendages. Not being an expert in cephalopods (and being too lazy to look it up) I'm not sure what the actual name of this structure is, so Head Crest it shall be for the rest of this Instructable.

Spread the ends of your wire control clip and slip it over the head end of the cork. The wire control clip sticks up and doesn't blend with the rest of the squid body. Use your pen to mark either side of the clip where it contacts the cork at the top and bottom edges of the head section. With these marks in place remove the wire control clip and use your utility knife to remove the material between the marks. You want the space to be about as deep as the thickness of the wire control clip.

With this material removed apply adhesive to the spaces you've cut with your glue applicator. With the adhesive in place slide the wire control clip back into place. Wipe away any excess adhesive which is forced out. Once the adhesive is cured/dry your squid will be crested.

Step 6: Arm (and Tentacle) Your Squid

Now it is time to add your squid's most distinctive features its arms and tentacles. Squid have eight arms and two longer tentacles. Use a drill bit to make eight holes around the perimeter of the beak end of the squid body. Then use the drill bit to make holes to either side of the beak.

With the holes made dip one end of each arm wire into the adhesive and insert into the perimeter holes. Wipe away any excess adhesive that seeps out. After the adhesive cures repeat this process for the tentacles. If you don't wipe away the excess glue you can cut away the dried adhesive with a utility knife. However, if you aren't careful you can pop the arms out of the sockets. After experiencing this 2 or 3 times I switched to gel super glue as it was easier to clean up.

Wait for the adhesive to cure/dry and your squid totem is complete.

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