The Story:After years of raising millions of ten cent goldfish in their stores, Petsmart realized they had a problem. After far too many generations of fish and far too little genetic diversity, these low cost goldfish started to mutate. The size and teeth came first. These fish started growing ten times their normal size in a matter of weeks, and thin sharp teeth started growing in their mouths. These goldfish were once sold as a feeder fish, but now they were the ones eating all the other fish. And then the really weird mutations started happening, like in this particular one-eyed cyclops goldfish. The Petsmart corporate offices were at a loss at what to do with these monster fish, but then someone finally had the bright idea that solved the problem. Sell them to fast food restaurants for fish sandwiches...
The Details: I made the goldfish almost entirely out of paper mache. The body is made from recycled newspaper dipped in glue, then covered with tissue and painted. The eye is printed onto photo paper and the teeth are toothpicks. For more details, read on...
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Step 1: Paste
You're going to use lots of glue to make a paper mache fish. You could go the easy way and buy a gallon of Elmer's glue, but I prefer to make my own paste out of flour and water. Fill a container with some flour. Add water and mix until the flour is pretty dissolved. I don't have a specific ratio that I use. I've found the paste could be thick or loose, and both consistencies work. Experiment and see what you like better. Feel free to play with additives to the paste as well. Some people use salt. Others add soap. I've tried it all and haven't found much of difference.
Play with the paste and see what you like. There's no one right way to make the glue for paper mache...
Step 2: Basic Shapes
To make the basic shape of the fish, I took sheets of newspaper which I crumpled into balls. This particular fish used three newspaper balls. One round ball was used for the eye. Another went into the mouth. The third was more elliptical and was used for the fish's body. Once you're happy with the proportions of the balls, use some tape to get the newspaper to hold it's shape.
Next, grab any scrap paper you can get your hands on and tear it into strips. Dip the strips one by one into the paste and apply several layers to the shapes you made until completely covered. Set aside for a day or two for the paper mache to dry and then add a few more layers of paper strips for good measure.
Step 3: Mouth
Once the paper mache newspaper balls are dry, you're ready to make the fish's mouth.
Take one of the round balls that you made. Carefully cut the ball in half. I used an old serrated kitchen knife to make the cut. If you allowed enough time for drying, the newspaper core that wasn't dipped in glue should easily pull out of the hard paper mache shell. Cut this half once again, resulting in two quarters of the total ball.
For teeth, I used toothpicks which were cut down to an appropriate size and taped into place. Once I liked how the teeth looked, I applied another layer of paper mache to cover all the tape and seal in the toothpicks.
Step 4: Eye (base)
Using the third paper mache ball that I made at the start of fish construction, I cut the ball in half and taped it to the front of the fish to make a bulgy cyclops eye. Crumpled paper as also added to make a ridge along the fish's back.
Cover with a few more layers of paper mache.
The tail is also complete in this picture. Details on that are in future steps.
Step 5: Eye (ball)
I found the eyeball by doing an image search for taxidermy eyes. Plenty came up and I picked out one I liked. I saved it and printed it out on photo paper. Cut out the eye, and using a standard glue such as Elmer's, glue it to the bulgy part of the head that you made in the last step.
If you want to splurge and buy an actual taxidermy glass eye, the fish will look that much better!
Step 6: Fish Fins/Tail
Roll up several sheets of paper and tape the rolls to hold their shape. These rolled paper tubes serve as the skeleton for the fish's fins and tail. Cut to appropriate lengths and tape to the fish. I used three spikes for the dorsal fin. Four for the tail, And three for each of the side fins. Add a layer of paper mache to make them more permanent after you're happy with the positions.
Step 7: Tissue Skin...
After all the steps up to this point are completely dry, move on to the final layer of paper mache. Get a box of tissues, avoiding the fancy type with lotion. Buy the cheapest box they sell at the store. One by one, carefully dip the tissues into the paper mache paste and apply them to the fish. Use extra caution around the fins and tail. The tissue is the only type of paper between the rolled paper spikes, so it is very delicate until it drys. Also be careful around the eye. You don't want to get the photo paper too moist, otherwise the ink will start running. Gently shape as well as you can, and use the wrinkles in the tissue to add character to the fish. This is the final layer of paper, so this is what your fish will look like when finished.
Let dry, and at this point your fish will be surprisingly sturdy.
Step 8: Paint
You're almost done. All that's left is to paint the fish.
I started with a base coat of orange acrylic paint, completely covering the fish (except the eye). Once the base dried, I added a few layers of watered down black paint. The watered down paint gets into all the wrinkles of the tissue, making the outer layer look almost translucent in spots.
Once you're happy with how the fish looks, add a final layer of polyurethane as a seal, and your mutant goldfish is finished!
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