Then suddenly, the light went on

I have been struggling with how to make the tentacles for my mechanical jellyfish. I wanted them to look mechanical but natural, to flow as if in water (even though the jellyfish would be floating in the air) and to be fairly long.

My first attempt was with green stuff. I bought the tube maker set from Greenstuff World with the hopes it’d meet my needs. It worked great for shorter tubes but not for the longer ones I needed. I could only do a section as wide as the tool at a time. The tube I was making was getting pinched and becoming narrower at the point where the tool was moved to do the next section. Also I had to press fairly hard to get the detail into the green stuff. I gave up with the green stuff.

I thought I would have better luck with milliput as it was softer and stronger. I had better luck with the detail, but decided I didn’t like the look of it. It looked too much like sci-fi hose. I tried using different combinations of sizes of the tube maker tool (small and medium, small and large, etc) and still wasn’t satisfied with the look. In addition, I still had problems keeping the hose thickness consistent. I gave up on the milliput too.

I then tried using small beads over a wire. Once again, I didn’t like the look. It was also difficult to get the flow that I was looking for.

Here are some of my failed attempts. Cool in their own way but not what I was looking for.

So my jellyfish sat on the shelf awaiting its tentacles. I moved on to the next project(s) and months passed.

Until BAM! The proverbial light bulb went on above my head and I knew clearly how to solve the problem that had eluded me. The solution seemed so obvious once I knew the answer. Why is it that most good ideas come at 3 am?

The first problem I was having was the width of the tool I was using to roll the tube. To solve this I got some “clapboard” and “board and batten” styrene sheets and cut them to the width I needed.

Next, was keeping the tube a consistent thickness. I had to make eight tentacles after all. I bought a clay extruder tool that had a bunch of different tips. It reminded me of the old play doh set I had as a kid. One of the tips was the perfect size for my tubes. While there in the clay aisle at Hobby Lobby, clay extruder in hand, it dawned on me that I hadn’t given Super Sculpy a try. I hadn’t considered it before mostly because I didn’t want to bake it. So in my other hand I grabbed a box of Super Sculpy.

Once I got home, I quickly made my clay tubes with my trusty new clay extruder. I rolled my tubes using different combinations of groove sizes on the styrene sheets and found one that worked best. It had a nice organic feel to it but mechanical at the same time. I liked how the detail was clear and defined (I couldn’t achieve that with green stuff) and inconsistent too. It was just what I was looking for.

Here’s a not so clear close up of the detail.

I rolled out all eight tubes and curved them to give them a nice flowing look. Then crossed my fingers and baked them.
15 minutes later…

I finally had tentacles for my jellyfish!!! I celebrated for a few minutes by showing everyone here and then it was on to my next project.

Here’s a shot of the tentacles in place. It’s not the final arrangement but it gives a pretty good idea of what it will look like when finished.

Other posts for this project:
Jellyfish Update
Jellyfish Finished!