Octopus (or Squid) Made from Recycled Plastic Caps

My nephew Owen loves everything related to the ocean. A few years ago for his birthday, I wanted to make him a present that was interactive so I designed an octopus from plastic caps. I drilled the caps, strung all the caps together, took photos, and then took it apart and made a kit for him. That way he could make the octopus himself and take more interest in its construction.

To hold the kit, I cleaned a plastic spinach container, and made this cute label:

The plastic cap octopus “kit” that I made for my nephew from a recycled spinach container

How did he put the octopus together?

The main body was from peanut butter jar lids, and the tentacles were a mixture of soda caps in red, orange and yellow. I supplied yarn cut to the right length for each tentacle. I also provided a large plastic darning needle. The tip of the needle was not too sharp and made it easy for him to string on caps. Once the caps were strung on the yarn, h would pull the yarn through holes in the bottom of the body cap, and tie a knot.

This shows the bottom cap of the octopus body, and how he would tie on the tentacles

I also provided instructions – How to Make Your North Pacific Giant Octopus from Plastic Caps. Little did I know – he was actually obsessed with giant squids at the time!

It’s actually an amazing creature, the North Pacific Giant Octopus. It sometimes attacks and eats sharks!

Trashmagination, US


Carla Brown hosts Trashmagination, a podcast about reimagining trash and the creative reuse of recycled materials.

A lot of the content focuses on what artists have made from recycled materials. I share their stories so widen our perspectives on what is possible. But I also share ideas for smaller projects many people can do without having any background in art.

I came up with the term “trashmagination” when I heard the quote “Trash is the failure of imagination,” from Aaron Kramer from Urban Objects. It summarizes my belief that we can solve a lot of challenges with imagination.

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What have we learnt?
  • Skills involve threading needles and tying knots
  • The bottle caps look a bit like the suckers on an octopus
  • Collecting the right colours can help with the look of the end result
  • As a kit it makes a lovely and thoughtful gift