Friday, October 07, 2016

Fish on a Stick - Industrial Edition

How to make a Fish   

Way back in 2006 I worked for a signage company that had a lot of very cool toys, big CNC routers, a laser cutter, a vinyl plotter or two and several engraving machines. So much potential for creative work! So much mundane stuff actually produced... 

So I sometimes indulged my creativity with the odd lunchtime project. One of these was Fish on a Stick, which had a laser cut acrylic skeleton, a foam head, various plastic components and felt scales. He was a cartoony fish puppet and was a bit of fun to play with.

Fast forward 10 years. Since 2007 I have been doing youth work, and dabbling in creativity whenever the opportunity arose. In January 2016 I discovered  the Laser Cutting company in the town where I now live. I looked through my old files and found I still had the program for laser cutting the fish. I decided it was time for an update! I cleaned up the Corel file and sent it off to be cut.

 I dusted off my markers and did a sketch of a slightly more aggressive fish, something a bit more hard-edged and industrial.

I was going for a used, worn look, with a bit of a transition between steam and dieselpunk, somewhere in there.

 The laser cut plywood components. The original fish was made in plastics, but I wanted to use materials that were easier to work on at home.

Early assembly, showing the construction of the head.

 The head was shaped with expanding foam, the PVC piping was there to create the spaces for the eye holes. I replaced the PVC with brass plumbing fixtures, complete with glass marbles for eyes and LED's that could be flashed off and on.

Each bulkhead section of the fish's body was hinged to provide a fully articulated body.

 The various fins were created with brass strips and pieces of fabric from an old tent, soaked in superglue.

 The head section in the process of being painted. The foam was sealed with epoxy resin first, and then painted with acrylics,

 I wasn't happy with the bumps in the surface, so they were filled and sanded back, leading to the patchy colouring, which looked pretty cool, but I ended up painting over that and adding a black paint wash and gold rub 'n' buff to create a metal effect.
 The scales were created from aluminium slats from an old Venetian blind, which were cut, drilled, and lightly cooked with a small blow torch before being wired together and attached to the wooden skeleton.

The tail fins and the scales in place.

For display, I made a base which included vintage dials modified in Photoshop to display important readouts for Espieglerie Overflow and Aetheric Potentiality. I also prepared a dial for Bombacity Quotient but didn't use it.

The base became a sort of workhouse and a tiny worker is seen heading home after a long day working. So, is this a fish, or some sort of alternative reality airship? Possibly..

The mouth and flashing eyes can be operated by pulling a lever (a modified corkscrew) in the base.

I also made a pole which the fish sits on that you can walk around with. This lets you interact with people, with the fish in puppet mode. The tail swishes with a flick of the wrist and you can open the mouth and flash the eyes at will.

Check out the video too!