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I am very lucky to be involved in an amazing art collective in Philly. We call ourselves Space Pirates, and one of our favorite ways to express ourselves artistically is through throwing huge, fantastical art parties. This year was our second annual undersea-in-space themed event, called "21,000 Beats Under the Sea" (last year, the first, was 20,000; a Jules Verne pun). We rented out one of the largest nightclubs in the city and packed it with art, music, and nearly 1,000 costumed revelers... it was a spectacular time!

While I contributed to several projects, there was one I made on my own: Henriette the Angler Fish. I decided some weeks before beginning planning that I wanted to create a larger-than-life sculpture out of found materials, with light-up components. I initially considered a small school of Barracudas; but then, when watching my favorite episode of Blue Planet (The Deep), I was struck with inspiration. I HAD to make an angler fish.

The first picture is of a finished Henriette at the party, with a girl that I don't know striking a pose (the picture was taken by Redlite, a friend and talented local event photographer). The second photo is the party's flier, deigned by my talented husband. Henriette actually lost all her teeth that night due to the number of people who wanted to pose with her "eating" them... but that's ok, I believe strongly in the value of interactive art, and it's nothing a little glue can't fix :)

Step 1: FYI

I am writing this Instructable to show you the basic process I used to create this particular sculpture, NOT to show you specific steps in how to replicate it! The idea of this technique is, in my opinion, to let your imagination wander, and to let the materials in your vicinity tell you what they want to become. 

In short, I wouldn't mind a bit if everyone who reads this Instructable goes on to make an enormous pink-and-orange angler fish; I just don't see the fun in it!

With that said, on to my process...

Step 2: Making Her Body

I started the process of building Henriette with a PVC frame. The shell of the body was created by layering cardboard strips. I layered cardboard for days, until there were no holes at all.

Step 3: Adding Skin & Scales

On top of the cardboard, I added a layer of newspaper paper-mache. Fins are scrap foam. The eyes I made out of dollar-store parts: clear plastic bowls, soccer practice cones, and book lights. They are backed in holographic card stock; excess from a local brewery, provided by a friend who works there. On top of the newspaper, I added a coat of white primer.

After the primer dried, I brush-painted her whole body silver and added pink and orange highlights with spray paint. I added painted bubble wrap and orange car scrubbies for texture, and made teeth out of corrugated plastic board. Lips are foam noodles, slit halfway through (all foam & plastic board pieces are scrap, donated by a local company to my collective). I lined the inside of the body in black plastic sheeting that was torn and discarded. The picture of me half-in Henriette's mouth is from when I hot glued it in.

Step 4: Ready to Party!

To finish her off, I added a tiny pink paper lantern to simulate the angler fish’s bio-luminescent lure, and a string of orange LEDs on the forehead. These pictures are her at the party; in the head-on shot, her lip is a little wonky from being knocked off. This is explained in the second picture (as he was just one of many). The last picture gives a little better idea of the paint job.

I hope you've found this Instructable to be somewhat inspirational! I'd love to see similar projects, so if you have any, please link in the comments. I'd also love any comments or questions you might have. Thanks!
That is one freaky lookin' party fish! I'm impressed!

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Bio: I am an artist, educator, and maker residing in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. I currently work for the OR Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI ... More »
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