Introduction: Ghostly Goldfish

There is always a challenge to create something transparent. I make a lot af animals, but never anything see-through. The tape challenge on Instructables is for me the perfect opportunity to create a transparant fish. I saw some examples of tape sculpture somewhere, so I had a rough idea how to start. For all teachers who would like to do something similar in class, see the end of the instructable.

Note on the filmclip: The fish is not weather resistant, an cannot be permanently displayed outside.

Step 1: Things and Materials I Used

Tape in the lead! I used a big roll ( not a whole one), an a regular smaller one.( about 1,5 rolls)


  • clingfilm
  • sandwich bags
  • wire
  • cotton thread ( white)
  • laminating pouch, and machine
  • pliers
  • two buttons for eyes

and then:

Some object that could take the part of a mold. I used a round glass vase. Glass or ceramics works very good with clingfilm, but you could use a ball, or a totally different shape vase or bowl to create your own fish.

For extra help I included a pdf file with patterns of gills, fins and tail

Step 2: The First Shape

I covered the vase with clingfilm. Then I totally covered the shape with broad tape. To hold track of what I was doing, I made the first layer horizontal. The second vertical pieces of tape. The third diagonal from the lower left to upper right and the fourth opposite upper left to lower right. For a big shape like this (30 cm) 4 layers is not enough. You will need at least 6 or 7 layers. So continue with fifth layer horizontal, sixth vertical and one diagonal

Step 3: Shaping the Body

Make a cut in the plastic from top to bottom. Peel of the result. Don't panic if the shape goes inside out, it will remain the correct shape and can easily pushed back. I cut the ball into two equal halves. The I cut along the line in the photo to crate an oval shape.

Step 4: Wire Armature

I knew I needed some support for fins and tail to hold them upright. I cut of a piece of wire and bend that in the shape of the body, with a longer piece at the tail end. An extra piece of wire is attached,with tape, for the fin. I made such a support for belly and back side and attached them to one of the body halves with tape.

Step 5: Fishbone Laminate

As the fish will be transparant I thought it would be a fun idea to create a fishbone. I opened up a laminate pouch and laid down white cotton thread in the right shape. All threads are secured with little pieces of tape. Then close the laminating pouch, and run it through a laminating machine. The result will be a sturdy fishbone.

Step 6: Install the Fishbone

Pick up one of the body halves and press it on the laminated fishbone. I put little dots with a felttip pen to know where to cut. Cut out the bodyshape from the laminated sheet and attach it with tape to the body half.

Step 7: Head

I thought the overall shape of the fish would improve by adding a extra head piece. I covered about a quarter of the same mold ( vase) with clingfilm and added 5 layers of tape. The I cut the result in a eye or almond shape

Step 8: Gills

Cut a sandwich bag open, and put it flat on the table. Attach horizontal line with cotton thread and tape.See pattern in step 1 of this instructable. I divided the piece of plastic in three equal parts. By gathering one side I created fan shapes. and secured that with tape. Two fans are gills, the third will be a pelvic fin.

Along the rim I tore pieces of plastic away between the threads. It gives the gills ( and fins) a rugged more natural look.

Step 9: Face

The face consists of the quarter ball, two gills, two eyes, pupils and upper lip

The gills are mede in a former step and can simply taped to the edges of the head. For the eyes I twisted a sandwich bag to a piece of string and taped that to the edge of the headpiece. The eyes are made in a similar way with a twisted sandwich bag, curled round in a loop, and the remaining end twisted round the loop. the end secure with a piece of tape. The irises are two buttons attached with a further piece of tape.

Step 10: Fins

Another sandwich bag cut open and lengthwise divided in two halves. One is not used, The other decorated with parallel strings taped on. See pattern in step 1 of this instructable. One long side is crumbled up a bit and secured with tape. This is the upper fin. The lower fin is made two steps earlier with the gills. Remember the remark in the gills step to tear away some plastic on the upper rim for a rugged natural look.

Step 11: Tail

The tail consists of three parts. One fin above and two fins beneath. see pattern in step 1 of this instructable. The upper fin is a sandwich bag cur open with one long cotton thread on the left. Each next thread is shorter. The side with all threads is gathered and secured with tape The loose corner is cut round.

The two lower fins are also one sandwich bag each. The thread is taped on in a curved shape. You will need multiple small pieces of tape, because you can't bend the tape along the curved line. The piece of plastic above the longest thread is cut off, as well as the corner on the opposite site

Step 12: Combining Parts

So far we have created

  • A half body with fishbone and wires
  • A empty half body
  • a dorsal fin
  • a pelvic fin
  • three tail parts
  • A head with gills and face

With tape place the dorsal fin on the wire and the fishbone side of the half body. Do the same with the pelvic fin on the lower side of the body. Place the top part of the tail against the wire and tape it in place. Tape it also to fisfhbone sheet. Attach the two lower parts of the tail on the other wire and tape in place. Note that the wire supports the upper rim of the parts. Now take the other half body and gently press it in place. secure wherever you can with tape. Bend the head and tape it on the front side of the fish

Step 13: Alteration Mouth

After I taped the head to the body, I thought the nose was to pointy. I made a little cut in the beak and taped both sides over each other so the mouth was a bit more stub.This is very optional. Sometimes I regret having taken this step....

For the lower jaw I added a small piece of plastic with layered tape in the shape of a crescent moon. On the rounded side I added a twined piece of lunch bag for a lip. Then I taped this piece under the head,

Step 14: Bonus Step: Lantern

With a string of USB microlights and a powerbank you can transform the fish in a Lantern. This string was bought on Alibaba and took 3 months to arrive. Not recommended.

Step 15: Teachers Advice

If you want to use this technique in classroom, I would start with smaller and simpler subjects.

But first ask yourself:

  • Do I want to stimulate children to use lots of tape?
  • Do I explain what the fish thinks about us using plastic. Of course it could fit in some lessons about plastic in the environment.

Materials: Do you have access to lots of tape, can you think of available molds. May be you can collect plastic waste after lunch or outside?

Goal: Make a 3 dimensional form out of flat tape

Start by showing, explain the principle of a mold, covered with clingfilm, and neat layers of tape. Let them start with a small bowl like the photo.

Young children can create Halloween ghosts ( with led battery light?), or tape the half ball on a fish drawing to create volume.

Easy and lot of fun are jellyfish, made by cutting a sandwich bag in strings and pull them through ( taped together) the bowl shape and hung on a string.They move beautifully, once they loose their static magnetism.

Older children can create their own fish and make a classroom ocean using different molds.

And may be you will think of Christmas tree balls, Photo- balls, snow-globes (dry!)

I'm sorry I cannot test one of these ideas in class, as I ended my teaching career recently. But may be you can!

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