Thursday, January 04, 2007

I made an octopus!

True story: Once upon a time, my parents had a pet octopus. His name was Fred. This might seem a little weird to you, after all, the Addams Family had a pet octopus, but no other popular TV family did. But you have to understand that my parents had numerous aquariums and all sorts of ocean-dwellers as pets. Fred was just the tip of the iceburg. Although I never knew Fred, I grew up dealing with aquatic creatures which ranged from feeder goldfish to sea anemones.

Of my two parents, my father is really much more in to the whole ocean and aquarium thing. I've been buying him gifts related to various sea creatures for years, and so this year I decided "Hey, I'll make Dad an octopus!" Christi Friesen's new book had instructions and they looked easy. I decided I'd even get fancy and put said octopus on an Altoids tin, so he'd be functional as well as nifty.

Armed with this confidence, I set off to Wikipedia where I researched octopus, because I really didn't know what color they should be. It turns out that octopus can be any number of colors due to their natural camoflage capabilities. I also learned that octopus are darned scary. They have no bones. They have three hearts. They're scarily intelligent. If they lived for more than a few years, they'd probably have taken over the world by now.

I decided I would make a red octopus, because that would be pretty striking and within the realm of natural cephalopod hues. But then I remembered that because I'm not a huge fan of the color red, I don't actually own any red clay. Drat. So what the heck, I decided I'd go for broke and make the Blue-Ringed Octopus. The funny thing is that I knew exactly how I would make an accurate depiction of those rings in lampwork. Too bad I'm not a lampworker.

I could go on at length about the difficulties I encountered while making this octopus. I could complain about the brittle translucent clay, the way the suckers kept falling off, or the fact that the best way I could come up with to make the rings was to make a tiny ball of blue pearl clay, flatten it out, and then poke a hole in with a sharp little tool (with the dot resting on my fingertip, which also often got poked) and then wiggle the tool around to enlarge the hole. I could even mention the fact that the octopus developed a few cracks when I baked him.

But you know what? The important thing is that my Dad opened his present and loved it, started talking about how cool octopus in general were and how beautiful blue-ringed octopus were. It was a good feeling, just like being a kid again and having either one of my parents say nice things about the drawing I did, or the little chunk of loomed beadwork, or the short, short stories I used to write.

So there you have it, my tale of octopus creation. I might make another one someday, for Chris who also loves octopus, but I'll be using a different clay blend which will hopefully behave better. I also had an idea this week for how to make a nautilus, so I might try that soon.

I'm going to go ahead and end this post now, before I decide to go off on a rant about my personal life, so I'm going to leave you with today's Cool Thing, which is the Vampire Squid. All this research on Wikipedia, by the way, has convinced me that the vast majority of what lives in the ocean is creepy. I'm never going to the beach again!

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