Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Paper Maché Fish - Step 1 - Armature

I haven't quite worked out my plan for fame and fortune, but I've decided that in the meantime, I'm going to make paper maché fish and sell them on Etsy.  I should be able to afford my own chef and a personal secretary after a few sales.  Pretty soon Sotheby's will be calling, asking me to do a retrospective of my paper mache, and I'll have to deliberate carefully, because I don't want to undersell talents.  


Seriously, though, I've been taking a lot of heat from a couple of my friends for this.

  "You're making a what?"  

"That's so time consuming,"  

"Enough with the paper maché" 

My paper maché fish is going to bite both of their asses in my defense when I'm done.  

Anyway, I thought a fish would present a nice do-able shape, with a bit of a challenge, but not so much of a challenge that I wad it up and throw it out before I'm finished.   I checked out paper maché fish online, and there ARE a few on Etsy.com, but not so many that it you could make the case that everyone's making them, so I'm going to give it a try. 

The first step in this process is to create the armature.  

I always seem to get the best results when covering a balloon, but unfortunately, I couldn't find a balloon that would suit this purpose.  I needed an oval shaped balloon that was somewhat flat.  I thought of getting a helium balloon from a party store, but they're not made of the same rubbery stuff as conventional balloons, and I just know they won't dry nicely.  Plus, I'd still need to add something to each end to make the round balloon oval shaped, so I gave up on that idea.  

I decided to give wire (my new best friend) a try.    

I had a nice hunk of wire left over from gardening last year so I cut a rectangle about 2 ft. by 4 feet.  

...then I cut that piece in half so that I had two pieces that were pretty much square.

Then I outlined the shape I wanted on the square of wire using some thin strips of duct tape.

I used a twist tie to hold the two pieces together and then I copied the same outline using more duct tape onto the second square of wire.  You want two sides to your fish, and you want 'em to the same size!

Then I snipped all the edges that were sticking out, leaving enough wire to fold each end under.  I didn't want to get scraped to smithereens later on.

Next, I curved the wire to allow my fish to have some dimension...  he's going to be somewhere between a fluke and a blow fish in thickness.

Next, I checked to make sure my two sides would go together.  
Not bad. 

Now, I needed to fill in those giant holes so that my wet paper towels would not sink into them while drying.  I had a spool of thin wire on hand, so I wrapped it across the open areas.  If I had to do it again, I would go with my nemesis from my planet project, chicken wire.  I didn't feel like spending 25.00 on a roll of chicken wire for just this one fish, but chicken wire has smaller, more consistent holes, and even though it can cut you to ribbons, it's easier to mold into the shape you want.  

Next I wrapped each form with a piece of dry paper toweling.  I just scotch taped the toweling over the edges.  If I had just started covering the form with wet, sticky pieces, I might not have been able to remove them from the form later on.  Plus, it would most likely have dripped all over the place.  YUCK.  Paper maché is messy as it is - I want to keep the mess to a minimum.  

Next post:  covering the armature and making the tail.

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