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How Can I Create This Devil Fruit?

This is the Mera Mera no Mi fruit from One Piece. I really want to create a model of it, but I'm having a lot of difficulties and really don't know where to begin anymore.

In my attempt, I modeled one of the flame segments and tried to wrap it around a sphere using the Tissue add-on, however, the results were very lackluster.

Am I going about this wrong? I figured this was a nice beginner project, but I seem incapable of doing even this.  How can I do this? I'm having a little trouble navigating the courses as I'm new around here as well, but it seems there is no singular tutorial series building on previous lessons. So, alternatively, what course should I begin help to achieve this build.

  • So, this is my try:

    File is here.

    Notes (also included in the file):

    - Icosphere as Instancer:
    Duplication on instancer vertices

    - edit the fruit "scales" only in
    "Edit Mode": the local Y axis is aligned with the vertex normals of the instancer
    => "Tracking Axis" set to "+Y" (default)
    and "Up Axis" to "Z" (default)
    in the "Relations" panel
    of the "Properties Editor"

    - grooves made with edge beveling and inset (using CTRL for creation of depth);
    vertices connected with edges (using "J" key) in order to make it all quads

    - "Simple Deform" modifier in "Bend" mode to curve the fruit "scales"

    - UV-Sphere to fill the gaps between
    the fruit "scales"

    - both spheres slightly deformed; top and bottom vertex of the icosphere instancer dissovled
    (by joining the surrounding faces) in order to avoid unwanted instancing of fruit "scales"
    at these "sphere poles".

    - further tweaking needed after application of the modifiers and making the duplicates real