In Japan we have a tradition of making a variety of imaginative artifacts for parading in festivals. For this year’s Kanda Festival of Kanda Shrine (Chiyoda ward, Tokyo), we created fish artifacts using handicraft and 3D technology. Feel free to use this recipe to create fish artifacts for festivals and parties!
Step 1: Scan the Fish
1-1. Get fresh fish
Size doesn’t matter, if large enough to scan the surface. You can change the form and scale of 3D images freely on the computer. We asked a fishmonger of Kanda district to collect fresh and beautiful fish at the Tsukiji market. We chose a red snapper and a rock fish for scanning.
1-2. Scan the fish You only need rough 3D images, so a cheap scanner for domestic use is enough. Generally, if you scan one side of the fish, you can make the 3D image of the other half body by inverting the first one on the computer. Tips - Instead of trying to scan the whole fish at once, scan the parts separately from different angles. - Objects with smooth but not glittering surfaces are suitable for easy scanning. - In general, the fins are difficult to scan because they are transparent. It is easier to make fins with paper and bamboo manually (see the next slide). Scanner we used: Sense 3D Scanner
1-3. Enjoy the fresh fish dishes After the scanning, we enjoyed the great fish dishes prepared by the chef-fishmonger.
Step 2: Make Templates
2-1. Reproduce the 3D image of the fish
Combine the 3D data of the parts to reproduce the original half body on the computer. If you like, modify the original form. Probably you’ll have to fill in the gaps between the scanned parts using 3D design software.
When done with one half body, invert the 3D image to make the other one using the software. Then unite the two half bodies to reproduce the 3D image of the whole body.
- Software we used: Meshmixer (free software).
2-2. Create concave templates
Make a cuboid on the computer. Subtract the 3D image of the fish body from it, then halve it. Now you get the concave templates for the right and left half bodies of the fish. Adjust the sizes for printout.
- Sizes of our printout
Red Snapper: 35.0 x 17.5 x 4.5 cm
Rock Fish: 30.0 x 13.5 x 6.0 cm
- Software we used: Shade3D. There are several ways to make templates. For the details, check the software manuals.
2-3. Print out the templates
We used an online service for 3D template printouts.
- Material: nylon (polyamide)
You can download the template files of red snapper and rock fish from the site below:
Step 3: Make the Fish Body
Materials and Tools:
Concave templates of the right and left half bodies; old newspaper, starch, water, wire; hair dryer, pliers.
3-1. Make the half bodies of fish with layers of newspaper
Dip small pieces of newspaper in water, then pave the concave surface of the template with them.
Next, dip pieces of newspaper in water mixed with starch and overlay them tightly on the first layer. Press them well to make sure there is no space between the layers. You need 10 to 15 layers (about 3 mm-thick) to make a solid half body. Leave the middle of the body hollow to minimize the weight.
3-2. Dry the half bodies
Dry the layers of newspaper with the dryer. When the surface layers are almost dry, blow hot air into the gap between the template and the bottom layer. That makes it easier to pull the half bodies off the template. But don’t dry them out completely.
3-3. Pull the half bodies off the templates
When the half bodies are dry but still soft with moisture, pull them off the template carefully. Then, leave them for a few days to finish drying naturally.
3-4. Make a wire frame
Make a wire frame with pliers to support the half bodies from inside. Make sure to have four legs sticking out at the bottom of the body. The fish will be put on a traditional sedge hat with those legs later.
3-5. Unite the half bodies
Unite the two half bodies with the wire frame in-between. Then, put pieces of newspaper wet with water and starch along the joint line to hold them together.
Step 4: Decorate the Body
4-1. Gather materials
You can find a bunch of lovely cheap materials in the different corners of 100 yen shops: DYI, stationery, craft, party goods, kitchen, gardening etc.
And yet, we recommend using quality materials for the basics such as watercolors. Color and texture matter a lot for artifacts.
4-2. Work out details of the body
Work out details of the fish such as eyes and mouth with paper clay. If you like, make holes and slits with a cutter knife.
Finally, coat the surface of the paper clay with washi (Japanese paper) to prevent cracks.
4-3. Decorate the body
Do as you like!
Tools: brushes, scissors, cutter knives, starch, adhesives.
Scales (squama): Glue a piece of laundry net on the body, and brush watercolors over it. You can get a nice scale-like texture.
Fins: You can make fins of nice form and size with bamboo skewers and paper.
Weight and balance: Don’t make the fish too heavy, and maintain a good balance. You will parade with the fish on top of a sedge hat in the festival.
Step 5: Put the Fish on a Hat
5-１．Design a sea wave
First, draw a single sea wave on paper. Then, scan the drawing and repeat it to the length of the circumference of the sedge hat on the computer.
- Diameter of the sedge hat: 41 cm.
- Size of the sea waves band : 12 x 130 cm.
You can download the file of sea waves from the site below:
5-2. Print out the sea waves band
We chose a slightly elastic paper roll for the printout, because we want the sea waves to undulate lightly on the sedge hat as we parade in the festival.
3. Attach the sea waves to the sedge hat
Cut out the sea waves pattern from the band. Then, put it along the rim of the sedge hat and staple it at three points.
4. Put the fish on top of the sedge hat
Use the wire legs to seat the fish firmly.
For this year’s Kanda Festival (May 9th, 2015), we created 20 fish artifacts. Check out the photos of our parade on our website!