Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Foam Fish

So first, some personal news, because I'm so excited I have to tell everyone that reads, I got engaged last Friday night. So keep an eye out, because in addition to props work and theatre crafts, you may be seeing some DIY wedding crafts on here in the future.
On to the fish!

For a production of New Electric Ballroom at A Red Orchid Theatre, I needed lots of large fish. On the small budget I knew I couldn't afford to cast them (I didn't have any leftover supplies from other projects and the right supplies can be expensive), so I started looking online for possible places to buy them. This also came up empty, as the fish I was finding were all too small and too expensive. To fill the two tubs I needed to fill I estimated I would need about 20 fish at that size.

I finally came around to the idea of carving them. I started with 2" pink foam and traced a fish shape onto the front.
On a side note, one of my favorite tricks when cutting intricate shapes with a jig saw is to do it on a foam base as opposed to trying to prop your piece between makeshift sawhorses. The foam doesn't resist the blade or slow it down, but still supports your project as you cut. In this case I was using a foam base under the foam I was cutting, but I have used this same method for cutting lauan and plywood too.
After I had the basic foam shapes, I carved them down with a long razor (also known as an olfa knife or a snap blade knife)
 And then I sanded them to a smooth finish.
I painted each fish with three coats of liquid latex,
 And then painted them all with a silver base coat.
Then they all got a dusting of green, concentrating on the fins.
I inserted little black beads for eyes, and painted a little red behind the gills and in the mouth and they were done. 
Because I was able to make them as big as I wanted, I only needed ten fish, and the total cost of paint, latex, and foam was only around $50, less than half what I would have paid to buy the fish online.

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