A co-worker asked me to make her a life-size trident because, as part of a PTA function, she was going to dress up like Ursula from The Little Mermaid.  Since I love a good challenge, I said let’s do it!  Considering they have a fabulous collection of medieval armor, the journey started at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  My BFA degree is in metals and metalsmithing and the proposition of making something look like metal and wood, even though I was going to use plastic, made me giddy… in that I’m a geek to the core sort of a way 🙂

I thought it was equally important not to lose the quality of the animation aspect of the trident and that lead me to more research on the movie as I had never seen it.


Based on this information, I created the vector designs in CorelDraw, to use the laser for cutting the acrylic.




The trident needed to be three dimensional and I decided that a ‘spreader’ component was necessary to achieve this.  I cut triangular shaped pieces out of 3/16″ acrylic to get the distance I thought was necessary between the flat trident shapes and also allow me to install the square dowel rod that was going to support the trident head when it was inserted into the PVC pipe.


These are the design pieces coming together.  Acrylic solvent was used to cement the two clear trident shaped pieces together, along with the triangular pieces to give the shape dimension.

To fill the gap between the trident shapes I used cold porcelain clay made from corn starch and glue.  I used baby oil in mine.  Here’s the link to a wonderful video tutorial to create your own: https://youtu.be/jC77TstFmFc

It took several days for the clay to dry!  Truth be told, I was coming up on a hard deadline with the event date and needed to paint the trident before all of the clay was completely dry.  If I make something like this in the future, dry time will be important.  I wanted to fill some of the divets in the clay to make the edges completely smooth but there wasn’t time for that!  Rust-Oleum is your best friend.  Their line of hammered metal and textured paints superbly took on the qualities I was trying to achieve to make this look like a real-life animated trident of metal and wood.  Great Stuff worked beautifully to fill the PVC pipe and add stability to the dowel rod, which was inserted into the pipe.  Once that set up, it wasn’t going anywhere.


I was really pleased with the interaction of the hammered metal paint on the acrylic surface.  Looking more like a real trident!



Getting down to the wire, the night before the event I made Ursula’s crown and necklace.  The crown was intended to be molded mirror gold acrylic but the time crunch got the best of me and I opted for sparkled gold foam from the craft store.  A couple holes on either end and some ribbons for tying did the trick!


I had a lot of fun working with polymer clay again.  In a former life I was the designer for a line of polymer clay dolls.  You never know where random expertise will come in handy. I blended two gold clays to get a seashell effect because, the real deal look and nothing else, will do for Ursula.  Additional clay was used to create the ring on the staff of the trident.

The final size of the staff is 6 feet tall with the trident measuring 19″ high and 15″ wide.