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‘Tis the season for inflatable yard ornaments. Why go with those cute store-bought ones when you can make your own more interesting ones?

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I’ll show you how to make some fun, unique, giant inflatable tentacles that can be used indoors or outside. These aren’t as durable or colorful as their store bought counterparts but they make up for it in style!

You can design your inflatables to be anything that is fat and mostly cylindrical. I found that tentacles were an absolutely perfect fit for this project.

The main skill you’ll need to employ to make this project is plastic welding. In this case, we’ll do this by dragging a hot soldering iron over a sheet of wax paper placed on top of two sheets of plastic. The heat from the soldering iron welds the two pieces of plastic together, allowing you to create an air-tight cavity.

It takes practice to get the timing just right. If you move too quickly, the sheets don’t get a proper weld. Move too slowly and you melt right through everything. You’ll need to try a few times on some scrap to get the hang of it. Much of this will depend on the thickness of your plastic, which is measured in mils. The thickest I’ve used is 6 mil, and the tentacles in this video are a fairly thin 1 mil.

Project Steps

Lay out plastic

Lay two sheets of plastic sheeting on top of each other. Alternatively, if you have a large sheet you can simply double it over like I have here. Some tape in the corners can help considerably.

Draw pattern

I used a giant sharpie to draw out the shape I wanted to create. Having a shape to look at isn’t absolutely necessary but it helped me considerably.

Weld the layers

Place a sheet of wax paper on top of your plastic sheeting and drag a hot soldering iron over it. You should move fairly fast as you can easily melt through your wax paper and plastic sheeting.

I’d try on a few scraps to get the timing right.

Cut off the excess

Cut off everything outside the boundaries of your weld line. I welded about 1/2″ inside my drawn shape so that I could remove the sharpie outline when I trimmed.

Add decoration

My tentacles needed suckers! I wasn’t up to the task of creating suckers individually and attaching them to the plastic, so I simply drew them right on.

Tape to a fan

Simple duct tape around a box fan will hold this in place, allowing for it to be inflated. Don’t worry if your tentacle can’t stand up under its own weight, you can always lay it down on its side.