Creating the Paper Mache Angler Fish Body

Balloon with several layers of kraft paper towel applied

Inspiration in place, it was time to start construction. The classic paper mache from our childhood is covering a balloon. The basic angler fish body shape is a pear. Inflating an 8 inch balloon to full yielded the desired shape. The paper I work with a brown kraft paper towel. It is durable, easy to tear and cut and lets glue pass through. I apply my glue with a paint brush, not my fingers. I know this is not how most people do it but using a brush gives more control. Also resin white glue is not the easiest stuff to wash off your hands. It is safe, I just prefer to stay clean.

Another interesting lesson learned was cut vs tear edges. With newsprint a torn edge will disappear while a cut will show when dried. Using kraft towels this is not the same. Even a cut edge disappears. Kraft paper is so much thinner but strong.

The resulting paper mache is smooth and pliable. You can bend it as well as cut with a knife or scissors. The pictures below are about 5 layers of paper. The mouth was cut out with a razor knife and scissors. I think of the paper mache like fibre glass. You build layers.

Cut and brace the mouth

Join the mouth to the body

I needed small wooden sticks that I could use to build fins and the tail. At first I tried wooden skewers. The problem is they are bamboo and do not soak up water. Coffee stirs on the other hand are soft wood, are pliable when water-soaked and retain their shape when dried. My local dollar store had packages of 150 stirs for $1. Perfect.

Bending Coffee Stirs

Avin's blue angler fish inspired the tail shape. Using a combination of bent coffee stirs and bamboo skewers I created this structure.

Tail Structure in bent coffee stirs and bamboo skewers

The Tail Covered

The next step is to move inside the mouth. As illustrated in the time-lapse construction video, you work from the inside out. I will start that in the next post.

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