Introduction: Rusted Copper Angler Fish (Desk Organiser)

Remember that scary fish from Nemo?

There is one on my table that eats paper balls, holds my pencils, lights up my study area and even acts as a phone speaker.

Through this instructable I intend to demonstrate mostly my skills in the field of painting and art. However, I've always believed and still want to believe, that I have a fairly good creative and innovative thinking capability as well.

Step 1: Product Design

This is a Papier Mache structure created using waste newspapers and other items.

The design is inspired by a creature of the deep known as an Angler Fish.

This Desk Organiser has 5 functions as you can see labelled on the diagram

  • Pencil/Pen Holder - Allows for a total of 8 writing instruments to be stored
  • Phone Holder / Sound Amplifier - Acoustics of the box amplify phone sounds such as music.
  • Calendar - Keeps track of you agendas. Compliments the rustic look of the box
  • Desk Lighting - For whenever you feel like working at night. It also makes the fish look that much cooler
  • Paper Chute - The mouth of the angler fish leads to a box which can store dry wastes. You can empty the box whenever you feel like a use it again.

Step 2: Creating the Template

Find Attached the dwgAutoCAD LT files for the base structure template. The software was used to create the base structure template.

I created a smaller prototype before proceeding to the final product as you can see in (Figure 3), This allowed me to visualise what I was about to create.

You can see the design research and development in my sketches. The original intention was only to create a product that would act as a desk organiser by being a pencil holder and a desk lamp. But gradually, I realised that one could utilise the acoustics of the box and the empty space inside it to also create a phone amplifier and a paper chute. It led to a more complex base structure but I've already done the math and the measurements. So all you need to do is print out the template on card paper. Ideally, on the A3 size.

Step 3: The Base Structure

Were going to split the instructable into 4 parts, the Base Structure, The Papier Mache, The Painting and the Lighting.

For Creating the Base Structure you will need

  • Used Cardboard box lid ( I used 27*21*8 cm )
  • Craft Knife and Cutting Mat
  • Glue / Adhesive
  • 1mm Card Paper ( A3 )*2

Step 4: Finding the Ideal Box

Its helps to be organised. Put up everything you need in front of you.

More Importantly, you must find an ideal box lid that you can use or recycle. I used a 27 x 21 x 8 cm dimension Switcheroo! Game Box. It looks something like this. Make sure the lid is pretty sturdy and doesn't sag like a sheet of paper, It would be ideal to use a neat looking and strong cardboard box.

Ultimately, If you can't find anything, just create a box template, cut it out and make a box by yourself using cardboard. You can follow the dimensions of the box I have used.

Step 5: Printing the Template

Find attached the downloadable pdf files for the base structure template.

Print these templates out on a card paper, you can trace them if you like. This is just about as easy as it gets. No complex numbers, measurements or angles.

There is a split template in the middle that I've attached. Its for those that can't print the entire thing on an A3 paper directly. So print out the two sides on separate A4 card papers and then you can glue them together later.

Cut them out and your base should be ready in no time

Step 6: Scoring Cutting & Piercing

After printing out the templates, This part should be easy. Use you Ruler, Scoring Instrument, Scissors and Craft Knife to cut out the pieces. There are lines marked on areas which are meant to be cut that distinguish them from those that are meant to be kept and used only as score lines

Create neat and hard scores lines, as the card is fairly thick. We don't want any wrinkles in those folds at all.

Step 7: Arrangement and Folding

After you're done scoring and cutting out the structure, create those neat folds along the score lines. The paper is quite thick as you can see, so its essential that the folds remain neat and flexible

You may use paper clips to keep them in place while gluing them together if necessary. This is only for those who printed out the A3 structures on separate A4 sized cards.

After you're done, you may arrange them casually to see what the base structure kind of looks like altogether.

Step 8: Reinforce the Base

There are certain areas in your base structure where you are likely to create more thickness and bulk to create a more strong standing structure

For instance the lips of the angler fish on the upper jaw and the lower jaw

I have not uploaded any templates for these as they can vary from person to person. If you feel like your structure could use some support on any sides, add multiple layers of cardboard to make it stronger. This step is not a mandate. The card paper itself is really strong, so if you feel that it can cope with the weight after being coated with the papier mache then you can proceed with the original structure itself.

Step 9: Create Mouth Opening

Make a slot on the edge of the box that you have chosen which will help hold the lower jaw in place and give the overall shape of the angler fish more impact.

Make sure to measure how wide you want the lower jaw to be. Then according create a slot of that length and height and ensure that the slot is only wide enough to allow the lower jaw base structure to snug in.

Once you've made sure its the right fit. Use a craft knife and cut it out. Then stick the base structure inside so that it pops out from the edge of the box like this.

Step 10: Papier Mache

Heres the 2nd Part of the Instructable.

Papier Mache is a medium I've used for a long time. Its an amazing medium and personally I believe one of the most effective ways of using paper. Normally, I prefer to use old newspapers and magazines because I have them available in large amounts in my store.

For the Papier Mache you will need

  • Boiling container
  • Newspaper / Magazines / Tissues
  • Flour
  • Brush (For Mixing and Application)
  • Table Salt

Step 11: Preparing the Papier Mache

Bring in all the required items.

  • Pour about 4 cups of water into the container
  • Then pour 1 cup of flour in the container
  • This means the proportion of flour to water should remain 1:5
  • Add some Salt into the mixture as well. This prevents fungal growth in the Mache paste
  • Stir well. Keep stirring till you have a nice fluid consistency and have broken down all the flour chunks
  • Transfer the mixture into a cooking utensil
  • On low flames. Slowly heat the mixture while stirring it
  • Do so till you obtain a creamy and consistent mixture. Be careful not to keep it on the flame for too long. We want the perfect thickness and fluidity.
  • Take it off the heat and allow the mixture to cool
  • Now you can use the Papier Mache paste. Normally, It works best for about 3 days when kept in a sealed container.

Step 12: Apply the Papier Mache

Create strips and pieces from the newspaper.

Coat the base structure in a layer of Papier Mache paste first. Wherever you want the newspaper strips to stick.

Then apply the strips of paper on top of the base where you've coated a thin layer of paste. Use the brush once more to apply the paste on top of the paper strip and cover it entirely. Make sure no edges are left out and that you apply the paste softly with the brush so that you don't tear the paper.

Keep doing this till the base structure is covered in about 3 to 4 layers of Paper. You don't need to apply the mache in the inside of the mouth of the fish.

Step 13: Allow It to Dry

Once you've covered the base structure and the box in papier mache, take it out in the sun and leave it for some time. It took mine about 5 hours to completely dry so you'll probably need to be patient.

Step 14: Painting the Mache

Now, Heres the fun part, the 3rd part of this instructable. Art and painting really is my forte so Ill go into depth with this. I chose to create a rusted copper and gold effect on the papier mache, but you can colour your fish any way you like.

For Painting you will need

  • Flat Brushes (Varying Sizes preferred)
  • Acrylic Colors
  • Acrylic Color Palette
  • Cloth / Rag
  • A Mug of water

The Acrylic Colours I used to achieve the rusted copper and gold effect, using Camlin Kokuyo Acrylic Colors

  • White
  • Cyan
  • Viridian Hue
  • Copper
  • Prussian Blue
  • Bronze Gold
  • Gold

Heres the link to the reference image I used to emulate the rusted blue copper texture. For those that do not know, copper becomes an eye popping blue and turquoise colour when turning into copper oxide. Its also synonymous with sea like colours and the rusty textures give it an atmosphere of being old, deep and forgotten, pretty much like a angler fish.

Step 15: How to Create a Rusted Copper Effect

On your colour palette. Take out some Cyan and mix it with a little bit of Cerulean Blue Hue. Lets call this colour Shade1

Now use your brush and apply Shade1 onto the surface in a dabbing stroke. (See Figure 1)

Take in a little bit of the Viridian Hue on your brush and keep dabbing while applying Shade1. It should create some turquoise shades on some areas on your surface. (See Figure 2)

After you have something that looks like the picture in (Figure 2). Wash your brush and take in a little bit of the Cerulean Blue Hue or Prussian Blue and apply in on some areas of the surface where you have applying Shade1. Spread them out using the dabbing stroke so that they do not become too dark or prominent. With this, you should have something that looks like the 3rd picture (See Figure 3)

Now take a new brush for the copper shade. Choose a prominent spot, where you want most of the shiny eye catching copper to be. We don't want the copper to be everywhere here and there because that just makes it look like a mess. Focus the interest on specific areas. In (Figure 5), You can see I chose the left side of the back to concentrate the copper colours. In the same dabbing action apply the paint on the surface, Only on specific areas. Then spread them out and allow them to merge with the blue shades in the same dabbing action. You should have something similar to the image in (Figure 4)

Using the same brush, take some more copper paint and highlight some areas in the copper with more darker and thicker copper paint. Like I have done in (Figure 5)

You can use the internet reference image I used in Step14 to help yourself too.

Step 16: A Closer Look at the Painting Process

I offered a step by step description on how to achieve the rusted copper effect in Step 15.

Here you can see some of the dabbing strokes I used to apply the copper colours on the surface. If you put too much copper on one area, you can still apply Shade1 over it and redo it. Like (Figure 1) demonstrates

Also notice (Figures 4 and 5). It illustrates how the dabbing stroke was used to blend the copper colours with the rest of the blue and turquoise shades.

Step 17: Create the Pencil Slots

Use a sharp tool and a craft knife to create slots for inserting pencils or pens. Make careful placements on where you want the slots to be because the pencils and pens will look like the teeth of the angler fish. (In Figure 1) you can see I equally spaced 4 holes in a symmetrical manner.

Use your craft knife to make two perpendicular cuts so that it results in a cross cut. Then take off the edges to make a neat looking square cut.

You can try putting different pencils and pens into the slots so that the slots adapt to the shape of the pens and become rounder.

Step 18: Applying the Gold Shades

I used 2 shades of Gold. Bronze Gold and Gold

The Gold shades will be applied on the box (Figure 4), the lips of the angler fish (Figure 3) and the insides of the Base Structure (Figure 2)

The reason I chose 2 Gold shades is to create a light highlight effect. The gold colours are very light reflective. With 2 shades, I can achieve some tonal variation and create more depth.

On areas close to the fish and its back, I used the Gold colour on the box. On the other areas of the box I simply applied the Bronze Gold with some Gold near the edges to create highlight. Make sure to paint in straight lines. This is different from the dabbing technique we used for the Base Structure. We are supposed to paint in only one direction. You can notice the technique in (Figure 5)

Its a little bit tricky to get the paint in the inside of the Base Structure, but eventually you can get it done. I covered the insides entirely in Bronze Gold, Its a lovely colour. In fact even the lips of the angler fish are just Bronze Gold. There is no Gold involved. With that the paint job should be done.

Step 19: Finding the Eyes

Now, I found these plastic spoons in my store room, and I thought they were the perfect size to be the eyes. So I cut off their handles, even scissors worked, they were cheap and unused.

And then I painted them off with Bronze Gold so that it matched with the rest of the structure.

And I glued them on top of the Base Structure. Easy.

You probably wouldn't have the spoons I used so search yourself for something like a hemisphere, or a bottle cap to act as a base for the paint. Then stick them onto the Structure.

Step 20: Pencil Slot Heads

Heres another lucky fluke. I found a pipe connector with the perfect diameter to fit most pens and pencils. So I cut them into 4 parts and glued them over the holes I made earlier for the pencils. This made it look less shabby and more stable.

Of course, you may not find the same thing. So you can probably also try using Washers or a PVC pipe as substitutes.

Step 21: Lower Jaw Pencil Holders

I have a PVC pipe with an inner diameter of about a little more than a centimetre.

I chopped them into 4 equal pieces and sanded off the cut shavings of the hacksaw. Theres a picture of them.

Then I adjusted their position on the lower jaw, symmetrical to the placements on the Upper Jaw and stuck them onto the Base with glue

If you don't have a PVC pipe like that, you can purchase one.

Step 22: Lighting (Antenna)

Heres the 4th Part of the Instructable.

For the lighting of the antenna on the angler fishes' head, You will need

  • Aluminium Wire ( about 5 ft at most)
  • Light bulb ( Ideally about 2 to 4 W )
  • Wire Bulb Socket
  • Wire with plug ( length depending on the distance from your desk to nearest plug point )

Step 23: Using the Aluminium Wires

The purpose of the aluminium wires is to strengthen the structure of the antenna on the angler fishes' head. It basically will allow you to make the wires more flexible and stable so that you can adjust the direction of the light when you need to.

Heres what to do. There are 4 figures given. Follow them. The end result should be something like (Figure 1)

  • Bend the wire into half
  • Grip both the sides firmly
  • Start twisting one end of the wire
  • Keep twisting the wire till you obtain a structure like the one in (Figure 4)

You will wrap this strengthened aluminium wire around the wire of the light bulb to make it firm and flexible.

Step 24: Attaching the Wire to the Structure

Use the twisted Aluminium wire and wrap it around the electric wire that connect the bulb to the plug. Like in (Figure 1).

Use the hole on top of the Angler Fishes' head to push the wires through and go down like in (Figure 2).

Now adjust the top of the wire by bending it to create a free standing and flexible structure to how you desire.

Step 25: Attaching the Light Bulb

After the electric and aluminium wire has come out of its head. You need to join the wires with the bulb holder. Basic stuff though. Just look at (Figures 3 & 4)

  • Shave off the coatings of the two wires and expose the fibers
  • Unscrew the bulb holder ends to insert the wire
  • Make sure the wires are not in contact and seal them tightly into the bulb holder
  • Screw the ends properly

If you've done that properly, you can attach a light bulb of your liking into the holder.

Step 26: Phone Speakers Slot

Create a slot on the box according to the dimensions of your phone. You can make this wherever you feel like. I decided to create a slot right next to the back of the fish.

The box is pretty big so the acoustics amplify the sounds of the phone by a surprising lot. It holds your phone for you and also creates sound amplification in case you want to listen to some music, you can feel the music filling the entire room.

The amplified sounds come out from the mouth of the angler fish mostly. If you have other leaks or gaps in your structure, It can affect the amount of amplification created.

Step 27: Box Imprint

I decided to put a random label and some text on the side of the box to preserve the old and authentic look. Nothing major, I only used colour pencils to do it.

You can also try to put your own text. It may help to create a stencil first, then use spray or another medium to create the old and worn out text

Heres the text I wrote




ANGUS 0972


Step 28: Trying Different Lighting

Try experimenting with different light colours. I tried yellow, red, blue and white

I personally preferred the normal yellow light bulb because it was appropriate to the old and rusty look of the fish and it accentuated the gold colour of the box, making it sparkly. Moreover, yellow is a colour that psychologically makes you feel calmer and focused in comparison to other colours like white and blue, whose stark and sharp contrast is more imposing and doesn't induce any concentration or relaxation.

However, depending on how you've painted your fish, you can change the colour of the light to your preference.

Step 29: The Rusted Calender

Every good Desk Organiser has a calendar.

So I reused one of my school calendars which no one apparently used and gave it a new cover. You can print my cover from the pdf I have attached above. Just adjust and cut it according to the shape of your calendar and stick it to the side of the box. It blends in perfectly with the rusted copper effect.

Step 30: Adjustments, Thoughts and Tips

The Product has 5 functions

Pencil / Pen Holder - The product can hold upto 8 pencils / pens. One could assume that the lower jaw is for the pencils while the Upper Jaw is for the pens. Normally a person doesn't require more than 8 writing instruments however, in an improved version of the product, I would like for it to be capable of holding more stationary such as Erasers, Highlighters, Staplers etc.

Phone Holder / Acoustic Sound Amplifier - The acoustic sound amplifier works great. I have almost nothing to criticise here. However, it could be improved if the phone slot was covered in a flexible material. That would allow phones of different sizes to fit into it as well.

Calendar - The Calendar works pretty well. I might choose to place it elsewhere on the box in the future though, because its hard to write in it when its that close to the desk.

Desk Lighting - The light has good brightness and it makes the fish look more impactful. It is also fairly strong and flexible however, should the antenna have been made of a better and a more suitable material than aluminium wire, It would have made it sturdier and allowed the light bulb to bend and reach farther.

Paper Chute - The user can toss down dry waste like Paper balls or Pencil Shavings down the mouth of the fish. While I don't know of many Desk Organisers that would do that. I was willing to allow some radical design innovations into this product. Only practical use could determine the viability of this. I concluded that while the Paper Chute option works fairly well, It would be much more purposeful if the desk organiser were placed above a hole in the desk leading to an actual dustbin. So that not too much junk would be filled within the box. This obviously will not work with wastes like food or liquids.

This fish can't swim but in all honesty, It is one of the most innovative Desk Organisers I've ever known. When products are made of paper, people can doubt the durability of the product. It cannot be cleaned and things like that. If I were to make another one of these in the future I would definitely experiment with more materials.

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