I first read about forging an octopus in 1991, in a newsletter from the Rocky Mountain Smiths. Jim Fleming was the editor, and he ran an issue about forging animal forms. I didn’t actually use that knowledge until a project came up in 1997. I made a few changes to what I had read to make that first octopus, and was pleased with how it came out.
This first octopus went on the base of a globe that stood 12’6″ tall, that is in the Worldwide Sportsman store in Islamorada, Florida. The globe was a giant rendition of a desktop globe, and the octopus is on the armature that holds the actual ball, 6′ in diameter, and houses the motor control that spins the globe.
Several other projects through the years have called for octopuses, and they are one of the most fun things that I make! For the 2006 ABANA Conference, I made one to go in the screen project that went together at that event.
This is the top of that ABANA ring project octopus, and below is the underside (or backside) of the ring.
I have since made numerous octopuses, often for demonstrations. They really seem to get peoples’ attention! You start with square stock, and if you do everything proportionally, you can use about any size of stock.
It’s also fun to make a few whimsical changes…
Shortly after moving to Florida I attended a blacksmith association meeting at a shop near me. While showing photos to the wife of the smith, we came to a photo of the ABANA octopus. Kimmie, the smiths’ wife, gave me a funny look and said, “Come with me.” I followed her into the kitchen, where she pointed at the wall and said, “THAT was the FIRST one!” There on the kitchen wall was the first forged octopus, the process designed by Dr. Steve Bloom, her husband. While I have made some changes to make the process my own, the foundation of my technique was built on the process that Steve developed. It took nearly 20 years, but that octopus had come full circle back to Florida where it was born.
I’ll be offering classes in 2017 on forging octopuses. Keep an eye on the website for dates….