TUTORIAL: Polymer Christmas Octopus

I made my first clay octopus a few months back as an experiment, and I have been hooked on them ever since. They’re surprisingly easy to make, and they’re so much fun, what with their cute eyes and long, squiggly legs! I’ve made a few Christmas themed tutorials lately, but I wanted to create something a little different. So, I combined the two and came up with this! I’m aware that it won’t appeal to everyone, but I love him anyway, and I hope that at least a few of you will, too.

This tutorial is quite fiddly, but I have tried to explain it as simply as possible so that anyone can give him a go. Even if you’re a beginner, I’m certain that as long as you have some patience you’ll be able to create your own little octopus! As always, just have fun with it- you don’t have to go by my guides completely, you can use any colour combinations and sizes you like. Enjoy!

What you’ll need:

  • Polymer clay (green, white, red, black)
  • Wire
  • Charm for the top of the wire (optional)
  • Cutting tool
  • Rolling tool
  • Dotting tool
  • Pin or needle
  • Oven
  • Black acrylic paint
  • Small paintbrush x2
  • Old rag or tissues


Step one:
Take your green clay and roll it into a ball. Gently pinch around 2/3 of the way down and roll it between your fingers so that you’re left with a shape similar to the picture above. Put it to one side.


Step two:
Take some more green clay and roll out eight long tentacle shapes. You’ll want them to gradually become thinner towards the ends. I made mine all slightly different lengths.


Step three:
Take a ball of clay (around half the size of the head), roll it into a ball and press it down. Attach it underneath the bottom end of the head.


Step four:
Turn the head over and attach the four shortest legs to the new piece that you added to the head.


Step five:
Now you want to pinch that flattened ball into three strands so that it will blend better with the legs.


Step six:
Use your finger to smooth everything down, so that you can’t see the seams where everything was attached.


Step seven:
Turn over and press on the four remaining legs, so that they are on the opposite side of the body to the rest. Now take a little ball of green clay and smooth that on top of the seams, so that it holds everything together smoothly. Again, smooth over the new seams. Place your legs where you want them to be. Some of mine lap over each other, but that’s up to you. Make sure that the two outer tentacles are placed so that wire can be tied onto them.


Step eight:
Pressing very gently, use your dotting tool to add some texture to the head and body. I used lines but kind of lapped over each other- almost like the bark of a tree.


Step nine:
Now for the eyes! Take your dotting tool and poke two holes where you want the eyes to be. Don’t poke too hard as you don’t want it to come through the other side! Then take a small sausage shape of green clay, wrap it around the outside of the hole and blend it in with your fingertips. Repeat to the other eye.


Step ten:
Roll two small balls of black clay and place them into the eye sockets. Make sure you clean your hands thoroughly after working with the black clay, otherwise your other colours will be peppered with it.


Step eleven:
Take your pin or needle and use it to add some texture around the eyes.


Step twelve:
Choose three or four tentacles and dot them with small balls of green clay. These will be the suckers.


Step thirteen:
Use your dotting tool to press down gently into the middle of each ball. You won’t need to push too hard, just enough to leave a dent. I also used my dotting tool to create the same “bark” texture on the legs that we used earlier on the head.


Step fourteen:
Roll out a sausage shape of white clay and press it at an angle onto the head, wrapping it around the sides.
NOTE: If you get bits of fluff on your clay like I have here, simply wipe over it with a wet wipe and dab it dry.


Step fifteen:
Use your dotting tool to draw on.. well, the best way I can describe it is small “squiggles”. Press into the white clay in random directions, dotting it slightly, until you end up with a texture that looks fluffy.


Step sixteen:
Roll out a ball of red clay and press it into a similar shape to the one in the photo above. Now press it into place next to the white part.


Step seventeen:
Roll out a ball of white clay, press it down very gently so it sits comfortably, then use the same technique to add the fluffy texture.


Step eighteen:
Roll out three small balls of white, then press them into square shapes.


Step nineteen:
Roll out some thin red clay and cut it into strips. Wrap a band around one side, then the other. To form the bow, just cut one short strip out and press both ends to meet in the middle. Then wrap another short piece around the middle. Press it onto the top of the present. Repeat to all three.


Step twenty:
Wrap the ends of a couple of the tentacles around each present, so he’s holding them. Bake everything in the oven until hard. Mine took approximately 35 minutes on gas mark 4.


Step twenty-one:
Add a few drops of water to your black acrylic paint and stir it up. Paint it all over the octopus (I missed out the white parts of the hat because I thought it would look too dark). Now gently wipe across it so that the paint stays only in the dents and also causes dark streaks over the whole thing. This just adds shading.


Step twenty-two:
Paint a layer of gloss over all of the clay. Once dried, I painted an extra layer over the eyes so that they look glossier.


Step twenty-three:
Attach your wire onto the outer tentacles by creating a hook shape, then twisting the end of the wire around the rest until it feels secure. If you’re using a charm, use a little piece of wire and the same technique to attach it to the top.

All finished! Either hang your new friend up on the tree or wrap it up nicely and give it as a gift to a special friend! Just remember that he is very delicate!

Thanks for reading! Please leave a message below with any questions or to let me know how your little squiggly fellow turned out. Happy Holidays, m’lovelies!




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