Thursday, July 9, 2009

Tutorial: Making a Quick Tentacle

Now that there is a challenge on the Etsy Steam Team to make a specimen bottle with something creepy inside, I’ve been thinking about how to make a tentacle. Propnomicon published a great tutorial on on his blog about making one with plastic wrap, fiberfill and latex, from which I learned a lot. I wanted to make some with suckers on them, so I thought of how I could accomplish that using materials I was familiar with. I did a quick down-and-dirty test last evening, and the result was good enough that I thought I’d share it without even attempting to improve it.

All you need is plasticene (modeling clay), various sizes of small plastic tubes, and some latex rubber (available at craft stores). I began by scooping out a channel in the clay in the shape of the tentacle, with one end larger and narrowing to the other. I then took the tubes and carefully poked shallow indentations along the surface of the channel to make the suckers, the larger tube at the larger end getting increasingly smaller as I reached the smaller end. I was working with three different diameters in my tubes. Metal tubes are too narrow, which is why I suggest using plastic or rubber tubes.

Now I had my mold, or negative tentacle. Next I brushed a coating of latex rubber into it, carefully blowing any bubbles so that the liquid rubber would sink down into the indentations. I then brushed in a liberal coat of rubber so that I couldn’t see the individual suckers anymore. I let it dry overnight, and voilà, a quickie tentacle! Okay, it’s only half a tentacle, but in a specimen bottle I think it will look good.

Above is pictured the finished latex tentacle as it came right out of the mold. The photo of the clay shows it after I demolded the tentacle, so the clay is somewhat distorted. The latex rubber leaves a beautiful feathered edge. It can be colored by simply adding a little latex acrylic paint to the liquid latex rubber before brushing it on. Of course the tentacle can be trimmed with scissors, and if the original mold in the clay were done more carefully I think a really spectacular tentacle would be fairly easy to make.


  1. Brilliant especially for something done on the fly!
    I was playing with the idea of sculpting shallow recess type forms in sculpey. I found a great way to add texture to pieces is as simple as using a scrap of vinyl or naugahyde and pressing it into the cavity to creat a texture that will transfer into the molded positive. Great tip now to try it with those large foam pipe insulators!

  2. Awesome!
    I think I shall be using this technique for the underside of my Cthulhu tentacles!

    I'm at the stage of using latex to texture my mask and tentacles, but I needed a simple and fast method to make the suckers.

    I'll be buying some paint tomorrow to mix in with the latex, so there may soon be up to date photos here:

  3. Hey, this is exactly what I need for tentacles! I can imagine making flexible finger tentacle gloves out of rubber gloves using this method, and then simply gluing them onto the surface with some hot glue. Just do an upper stipple skin, a lower set of suckers, glue them on as needed, sculpt, paint, and voila!