The Nautilus: Cuddling with a Cephalopod
The kid & I have always had a fascination with tentacled creatures, octopus, squid, cuttlefish and the like, but for a period of about 6 months when he was 5, he became obsessed with the chambered nautilus. I mean totally OBSESSED. It was pretty much all he wanted to talk about. We spent hours poring over books, searching the internet and making repeated visits to aquariums. We visited the nautilus tank in the Berlin Aquarium 5 times in 2 weeks. And I will admit, it is a fascinating creature, a living fossil, the only cephalopod living in a shell in the darkness of the deep sea. It's chambered shell is filled with air & gas which it regulates to control it's buoyancy as it jets through the water searching for prey. I love that a cross section of a nautilus shell reveals the miraculous relationship between nature and mathematics in the form of the Golden Ratio. But the kid is more interested in the siphon it uses to propel itself, the tentacles with which it grabs it's prey and it's shell crushing parrot-like beak.
This nautilus obsession of his led to a fruitless quest for a plush toy. But all we found was a small hard plastic molded one and a discontinued finger puppet in a toy box at the Santa Monica Aquarium. Well, that and a real shell, which was fantastic but not cuddly. So with his birthday coming, I gathered some fabric scraps and...
We would be in Europe on his 6th birthday so I had to hide it in my suitcase and finish it discreetly in various hotels in Berlin, Paris & Italy. It is made of scraps of cotton, silk & upholstery tweed. I painted the pattern on it while sitting at a bar in Naples. (photographed in front of painting by Jennifer Wolf)
We found this in a shop in Berlin. It's the real deal but not very cuddly. Besides, no tentacles.
The plush and it's little plastic friend.
Yes, it's cuddly!
And it enjoys cafe life.
Did you know you could make an origami nautilus?
Our friend in the Aquarium Berlin.
My inspiration. Oh, you want to know more about them?