The first thing I thought when I considered making ornaments is, they will smell nice! Then, I thought about making an octopus. The octopus is a bit involved so I decorated two other bulbs and made simpler designs. I will show all three, I hope you like them!
Step 1: Little Purple Strand Bulb
simply put, wallflower bulbs are shaped liked strand lights so why not decorate it like one. I started by painting it my favorite color (purple) I only added one layer of paint to keep some translucency to the bulb. Next, I took a dark green material(similar color to strand light) with a fringe end and glued it around the bulb, once glued fold top edge down and glue in place to give finished edge. Once you have a finished edge twist material and glue in place then wrap with floral wire. while wrapping don't forget to leave enough wire to make hang hook and create curly cues(I made these by wrapping the wire around the back end of a paint brush). Last, add some finishing touches, whatever you like I just added a silver snow flake.
Step 2: More Traditional and a Little More Difficulty
I started this one with red paint. Again, only one layer. Next I cut strips of 5 small balls and made a design that arched around the top. If you want you can measure out the space, I just went for it and it worked out. After that, I glued a stand down each side and attached a snow flake so it would dangle below the bulb ( the small balls and snowflakes are part of a garland I found years ago at a craft store, sadly I am almost out) Next, I wrapped the top where the scent wick comes out in small balls and glued a snowflake turned on its side to the top. Last, I added glitter to the tops of the curves and made lines come out of the divots and meet at the bottom ( I applied 3 layers of glitter to get a nice build up letting it dry under a small fan in between each layer). Don't forget to wrap a floral wire hanger around the top somewhere, I always try to hide it in the design.
Step 3: Deep Sea Tree Decoration
This one is a lot more difficult and has a lot of steps. The octopus took me about 8 hours from start to finish. For the octopus we need a wallflower bulb (the head), aluminum foil (the armature),Super Sculpey (oven bake clay), an assortment of sculpting tools, acrylic paint, a couple of sponge brushes and assorted paint brushes, clear finger nail polish, and some great reference photos.
Step 4: Creating a Succesful Armature
Start with three thinly twisted pieces of aluminum foil( longer than they need to be so they can be twisted around one another) If you can create eight legs out of one piece that would be ideal but I couldn't quite get it. Next, put them together and wrap a ring of foil around the scent bulb head to tie it into the sculpt. Create a humped platform for the eye area out of foil. The foil makes the sculpt much lighter, cuts down on material and makes a more uniform bake time so the thinner pieces don't burn.
Step 5: Clay Coverage
I used a cleaned out pasta sauce jar as a roller and rolled out clay to about a 16th of an inch then draped it over the armature and wrapped it around the tentacles. I did a build up of several pieces and blended them together, the edges can be blended with a spatula type sculpting tool. The clay will be resistant to grab the foil but once you poke and prod enough it will take hold. Cover the ring that holds the scent bottle in clay and fill the inside then thread bottle into clay so it is semi-threaded ( once baked the bottle can be threaded and glued in place for added stability)
Step 6: Smoothing and Blocking Out Form
Continue smoothing clay between seams and start removing some of the bulk form the tentacles ( this can be done with a hook or loop tool in a pulling or scraping motion down the length of the tentacle-this tool will also help in the smoothing process) At this point add in webs between tentacles (using the jar as a roller again) and air sacks under eye platform up against bulb( these can be made simply with a ring of clay build up that is then blended into place.) Don't forget to sculpt the bottom, it also needs smoothed and can be done with a loop tool. Once the bottom is smoothed fill in vacant areas with small pieces of clay to get rid of gapping.
Step 7: Vision and Detail
Don't worry about having the sculpture as smooth as glass you really just need to smooth out the seams and remove odd bumps. To make eyes add two small aluminum balls to the sides of the face bump and cover in clay then smooth seams. Continue creating the form you want by adding and removing clay as necessary. Most of the reference I looked at showed a texture on the skin so I peppered the octopus with sesame seed sized lumps then pressed them into the sculpt and smoothed them with a wooden spatula tool. After the spatula there was still a little too much texture so I rubbed the entire sculpt with a rubbery bumped thimble type tool to break down the bumps, which gave it some jagged edges so I then smoothed those with my finger. At this point you should decide on tentacle placement and bend them accordingly. Again, don't forget the bottom. For the suckers I made small balls of clay then hollowed out the center with a small ball point tool and blended the edges with that same tool. Once all of this is complete the sculpt can be baked at 275 for 15 min for every 1/4 inch of clay. However, no part of my sculpt was a 1/4 inch so I baked it for 7 min. Your bake time will vary depending on thickness
Step 8: The Process of Paint
Once baked and cooled I put hot glue onto the threads of the scent bulb and immediately screwed it into the body of the octopus. For the paint scheme I used a reference photo I thought was interesting and based it off of that. To start I did a white wash over the entire sculpt( white acrylic paint thinned with water) I used a sponged brush and dabbed it over the sculpture to give the paint some texture and avoid brush strokes. I built up three layers of white on the top and bottom letting it dry n between. Next I took a thinned purple and dabbed it all over the tentacles. Once the Purple dried I used a mixture of white and blue thinned it with water and dabbed it over the entire thing. When the blue dried I used a brush and purple paint that was not thinned to paint the webs and the outside of the tentacles. At this point I also began feathering thinned purple onto the white parts of the body to break it up a bit.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
Once I was happy with the paint on top I did a wash of thinned blue on the bottom and went over the suckers with a brush with non-thinned white paint. The eyes are small black squares and I painted a red line through the center to give more depth. Once the sculpt was completely painted and dried I covered the entire thing in two coats of clear finger nail polish( I used a light pink tinted polish to add something extra) to give it a wet look. I hope you like the tutorial and I hope its helpful!