Introduction: Koi Pond Papercraft Clock

I created this project as an entry for the Instructables papercraft contest.  I have always been interested in papercraft and have done a few pieces with a pen knife, which is painstaking work.  However, I recently became a TechShop member (mid-Peninsula woohoo!) so I have access to a laser cutter!  A papercut dream come true!  Now my forearms hurt from all the mouse clicking, but it's a more tolerable type of pain, especially when you consider the final results.

This project was inspired by an idea I had for a pair of earrings.  I have always liked the fishnet motif that is used in Japanese textiles, and I thought that koi fish would be a nice complement.  For this project I also added Japanese maple leaves, which are gorgeous in the fall.  So the effect I am going to is a koi pond in autumn.  I decided to do a clock face because it is a project that has been on my list for a  few months.  It's also a good size (not too big or small) to try and execute this idea, and it can be done using paper and wood, perfect for the laser.

There are two phases to this project.  First you build the body/supporting structures of the clock.  Next you get fancy and decorate.  I came up with this idea on Friday, started working Friday night, worked more on Saturday, and did gluing on Sunday and Monday.  All in all it probably took me about 12 hours, much of it spent making CDR (CorelDraw) files and getting my paper pieces cut out.  Since I am including my CDR files, anyone trying to re-create this piece will spend much less time on it.

And of course, I made it at TechShop.

Step 1: Step 1: Gather Materials

From wood store:
1. 12”x12”x1/8” Birch Balt Ply
2. clock body w/ hands
3. baseboard to cut things on, assuming you use a laser.  If you attempt this project by hand I tip my hat to you, paper master.

From craft store:
1. Gorilla glue
2. Aleene's tacky glue.  The glue pen isn't necessary but it sure is useful.
3. Colored paper.  Cardstock is perfect.

Other things:
1. tweezers
2. pen knife – for removing stubborn paper pieces
3. sand paper - if you want to remove wood bits
4. paper clip – for poking out paper
5. CDR files, conveniently included

Step 2: Step 2: Cut the Wood

This is simple, as there are only two pieces to cut.  I like to save wood, so I put the little circle inside the large one in the file.  In the picture you'll also notice that there are some other shapes cut out.  They were for another project, pay them no mind!

Make sure to focus the laser and home it correctly.  My settings on the epilog 60 watt were as follows:  speed/power/watts = 10/90/500.  You could probably go faster than that, but there aren't any delicate pieces here so it doesn't matter that much.  Press go and let the laser do it's thing.


In the pictures you will see that I originally cut my large outer circle so that it had 4 supporting strips.  Once I began assembling my clock I realized that this wouldn't work, as the battery space was partially blocked.  I cut the piece manually but it still wasn't great.  In the attached CDR file I have addressed this problem by making 3 supporting strips, allowing easy access to the battery.  However, most of the photos show my original model.

Step 3: Step 3: Gorilla Glue

1. Take your small circle and glue it to the face of the clock.  Try your best to center it.
2. Insert battery, cause in my case, it's not coming out! 
3. Take your larger circle and glue it to the back.  You'll notice that the interior circle on the large piece is the same size as the circle on the face.  Try your best to line up the centers.   I eyeballed it because I'm a papercraft cowboy and I glue first, get frustrated later.
4. Weight it.  There are many ways to apply weight, but the clock gear makes this tricky.  While gluing I happened to be sitting in a room that had an old circular weight, so I used that.  It was pure good luck.  Pure, good, dumb luck.  Regardless, I think the gorilla glue will be strong enough without the extra weight.

Gorilla glue needs at least 3 hours to set.  I left mine overnight.

If you have a booboo with the glue, acetone (nail polish remover) will clean it off.

Step 4: Step 4: Cut Your Paper

Step 4:  Cut your paper

I failed to take any pictures of this step, apologies.  But it is straightforward.  Again I used an Epilog 60 watt, settings: speed/power/watts = 45/30/500.  At this setting you can easily poke your pieces out if they don't fly out on their own.  I lost quite a few smaller pieces due to the fan in the laser, but that's how it goes. 

Things you need to print from the CDR file:
1. background fishnet.  This is meant to cover the large circle and accommodate the clock body.  Print 1
2. Background strips.  4 quarter circle shaped strips.  Used to make a clean border and cover glue goo.  Print 1 set
3. Foreground fishnets.  There are two sizes, and you will need 6 of each.  I printed 8 of each size, just in case I ripped one.  Print 6 small, 6 large.
4. Small circle covers.  The outer hollow piece will exactly cover the small circle, hiding the glued areas.  The inner, solid circle piece will cover part of the exposed clock body.  Print 1 set.
5. Koi fish.  There are 3 koi shapes total, each in 2 different sizes (6 total).  Feel free to print more or less in whatever color you please.  I did yellow, orange, white, printing 1 set (6 koi) in each color.
6. Koi fish spots.  See those weird blobs?  Those are koi spots.  I did three sets in black, yellow, and orange.
7. Japanese maple leaves.  Red, yellow and orange, 1 set for each color. 

Done!  Carefully gather your things and make sure to clean up the laser, because the cutting leaves lots of little bits and pieces.  You may want to print extra sets if you feel like you lost a lot of pieces due to windy laser conditions.

Step 5: Step 5: Paper Prep

1. First I assembled my koi fish.  I used tweezers to grab pieces and Tacky Glue to secure them.  The glue pen is nice here.
2. Get your fishnets ready.  I had to poke out quite a few paper bits using my trusty paperclip.  It's tedious and careful work. After I was done I placed them under a heavy book; the moisture from my hands warped some of them.

Step 6: Step 6: Glue - Part 1

1. First, attach your background fishnet.  If it's not a perfect fit, cut a row out and reposition.  Secure the edge of the paper to the wood with Tacky Glue.
2. Start decorating!  This is going to essentially be a background, so consider putting some of your less attractive koi here.  Don't forget maple leaves!
3. Small circle cover – inner circle.  Slide it over the clock gear.  It should fit snugly inside the small wood circle on the clock face.
4. Clock body coverage.  I did not consider this until I had already cut all of my paper.  I decided that the easiest thing was to cover it with koi and leaves.  Look at me, I'm problem solving!
5. Fishnet attachment.  The small end of the fishnet will be glued to the small circle.  Use tacky glue here.  12 fishnets total, alternating between small and large, with large fishnets on top when there is overlap.  Ideally these are spaced evenly, like the numbers on a clock.  I eyeballed it yet again.  For the small fishnets, try to position them so that the large tab will reach the outer circle, where it will eventually be attached with glue.
6. Small circle cover – outer circle.  The outer circle will cover up all of the small tabs and help hold things in place as they dry.  Try not to make a mess with the glue, as this part will be exposed.
7. Patience.  This is a good place to stop so things can dry.

Step 7: Step 7: Glue - Part 2

1. Use Tacky Glue to attach the remaining tabs to outer circle.  Attach the small fishnets first, then the large. The large ones will have a nice curve to them, while the small ones are fully extended.
2. Use the background strips to cover the glued tabs.

Step 8: Step 8: Finishing Touches

Use what remains of your koi and leaves to decorate your clock.  Do what feels right!

Finally, you can attach the hands of the clock.  You're done!

There are many other options as far as themes (ocean, lily pads, trout), so try out whatever appeals to you!  The fishnet background can be changed, as can the size of the clock face.  Have fun with it!

Also, feel free to improve upon this design as you see fit. 

Thank you for reading my Instructable!  I hope all of the instructions are clear, and if you have any questions don't hesitate to ask.

- Gazervizion

Papercraft Contest

Participated in the
Papercraft Contest