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Full Picture of the OctoMaid

How To Build An Octomaid

by Brigitta Ter Wiel in Dordecht, Holland
edited by Sunni Bergeron

Brigitta is a talented polymer clay artist living in the Netherlands. She creates "cartoon" dolls and sells them in local shows and stores. She has been kind enough to give us a tutorial for her creation, The OctoMaid! We hope you enjoy making your own fanciful darling of the sea!

The directions given here are for a doll approximately 25 centimeters (10 inches) tall and 36 centimeters (14 1/2 inches) wide.

Page 1: Supply List, Part 1. The Frame, Part 2. The Head
Page 2: Part 3. The Upper Body, Part 4. The Arms
Page 3: Part 5. The Tentacles, Part 6: Make-up, Hair and Finishing Touches

Tools needed


Supply List

Electric wire or 16-18 gauge wire
Cotton fabric craft egg or make one of your own with foil. size: 5cm (2in) high and 4cm (1 1/2in) wide.
Wire cutting tool
Sculpting tool
Aluminum foil
Papertape (masking tape)
About 400 grams (14oz) any skin color polymerclay
About 500 grams (17.5oz) of another color of your choice for the tentacles. I used green and gray.
Acrylic eyes (or make your own out of clay)
1 set of false eyelashes
Jewelry glue or clear silicone caulking
Pasta machine for making sheets of clay
Glass jar or marble rolling pin if you don't have a pasta machine.


When I made this doll I first searched for octopus pictures so I knew what their tentacles looked like.

Cut lengths of wire
Pick up the wire and cut in the following lengths:

1 - 14cm (5 1/2in)
1 - 25cm (10in)
6 - 31cm (12in)

Assembled wire frame
Bend about 3cm (1in) of one end of each of the 6 long wires.

With paper tape, secure the bent end of the long wires to one end of the shortest wire. Spread them out so they point in six different directions.

Down about 3cm (1in) from the other end of the shortest wire, place the middle wire so it resembles a cross and tape it.

Assembled frame with foil body form
Click on the picture for a closer look.

Where the tentacle and body wires meet, shape the "hips" of your Octomaid with foil. Then form the body with foil from the hips to the neck. When making your foil foundation, be sure to pack it on very tight by pressing hard so there will be no movement when the clay is applied to it.

After shaping the foil, wrap it in paper tape so the clay will hold better.


[Note from Sunni: You do this by squeezing the clay on all sides. If you are using Fimo, it will crumble. Continue pressing, squeezing, kneading and "smooshing" the clay until it softens and becomes pliable. Don't be gentle!! Get aggressive with it! Roll it into a ball and then a snake. Fold it back on itself and smash back into a ball. Roll it hard to work out any bubbles and lines, then roll it back into a snake, fold it back on itself and roll back into a ball again. Do this until you can bend the snake and no cracks or fissures appear on the stressed side of the fold. At this point, the clay should be ready. If you have difficulty getting the clay to soften, add a couple drops of Sculpey diluent or mineral oil to increase pliability.]

In Holland, there are craft eggs made from cotton fabric. I use a "cotton" egg for the head, it's better than a Styrofoam [or plastic] egg because it doesn't melt in the oven. Using tightly packed foil for the foundation is just as good. So, make your head in an egg shape with the measurements shown at the top of this page.
"Egg" form placed on flesh-tone sheet of clay
Roll a big slice of clay two setting down from the thickest out of your pasta machine. Hand rolling, about the same thickness as five sheets of typing paper.

Lay the sheet on your work surface and the head in the middle of the clay sheet.

"Egg" form partially wrapped. Optional stick included.
When I sculpt the head I stick it on a pin, a sculpting tool or a knitting needle to hold in my hands. I never hold the head directly in my hands. This helps eliminate fingerprints and keeps the features from being accidentally mashed by straying fingers.

Fold the clay over the head and pinch the flaps up against the foundation. Cut the flaps away and blend the clay so it is smooth.
[Note from Sunni: Do not pull and push the clay, roll your finger or tool back and forth and, while applying firm pressure, smudge the seam ever so slightly. This prevents unnecessary stress on the clay and helps reduce plaquing.]

Ball of clay cut in half
Roll a ball of flesh clay so it is about 3.5cm (1 1/2in) big and cut it in two pieces.
Balls sculpted onto covered "egg."
Click on the picture for a closer look.

Press the two halves so they're a little longer, making one also a little wider. The narrower one will be the forehead while the wider one will be the lower half of the face. They should wrap no more than halfway around the head and be separated about .5cm (1/4in) where they eyes will go. Now you get a basic of the face.

Head with ball halves smoothes and eye sockets pushed in with sculpting tool.
Using your favorite sculpting tool, work the lines away and blend them together by rolling it back and forth. When you have sculpted the lines away, you push the eyeholes in it with a sculpting tool.
Head with mouth cut out and lips laying next to it.
Roll a small ball of clay and cut it into two pieces for the mouth. You roll a little log from the two halves of clay and push one side flat. From this you shape the upper and lower lips.

With the knife, cut a line where you will have the mouth.

Head with lips attached.
Lay the mouth pieces on each side of the cut and blend them into the head. Shape the mouth to be open, smiling, frowning or whatever suits your desires.

Then press the tip of a sculpting tool into the clay just above the upper lip to make the indentation that goes under the nose.

Making the nose: ball of clay, ball rolled out, roll shaped.
Take another piece of clay and roll that in a ball. You judge the size depending on the kind of nose you want. Now roll the ball into a teardrop shape. Then, with your fingernail, push the big end of it up to give you a nose.
Head with nose and eyes added.
Blend the nose onto the doll head and make the nose holes in it.

Now you put the acrylic eyes in the eyeholes and set them so they're looking in the direction you want them. You can also make your own eyes from one of the translucent clays and paint the pupil later before you do the make up.

Head with eyelids added.
Roll two very little logs and place them under the eyes. Roll two bigger logs that are thicker in the middle and pointed on the ends. Place these on the top of the eye. Blend them all into the head.

Now you must make a little space for the eyelashes on the upper lid. With your sculpting tool, slice or press a fine line indented so it is halfway from the top of the eyelid to the eye.

Head with eyes closed
You can also make closed eyes. Roll out a ball of clay and cut it in half. Make the halves almond shaped and press them onto the eyes. Blend them into the head.

Again, make a little space for the eyelashes.

Now is when you can give your doll some character. This is where you add wrinkles or shape the face and cheeks to make the doll look more like your mental visual. If you are going to give the doll short hair, you will want to add the ears at this time. There are no ears in this lesson because the doll will have a lot of hair. Click Here
for Page 2

© September 2000

Page 1: Supply List, Part 1. The Frame, Part 2. The Head
Page 2: Part 3. The Upper Body, Part 4. The Arms
Page 3: Part 5. The Tentacles, Part 6: Make-up, Hair and Finishing Touches

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