I can't help with the gelling, but to make the strands, consider using (making?) a chitarra : it's a frame with parallel wires -- you lay a sheet of pasta on top, then use a rolling pin to force it onto the wires, cutting the pasta into strands. This would allow you to make sheets of gel, rather than trying to form each strand individually.
Some quick searching suggests they can be bought from a gourmet cooking store in the US for $40. I don't know how hard it would be to find one in the UK. I've also seen things that look like multiple pizza cutters mounted so they can be adjusted in how far apart they are. (it looks like they're called an "adjustable dough divider" or "adjustable dough cutter", and they run between $22 and $200). There are also fixed blades mounted on a single handle, and looks like the term to use is "rolling pasta cutter", which are much more reasonably priced, but not as flexible in their use)