As the title states, I need your help. Please read through the article, check out the photos and you'll come to it at the end.
Before sharing any photos I want to explain a bit of the background of this piece. Back in August of 2013 I finished a piece called "When Goldfish Crackers Go Bad."
Sometime later I was watching a show on Animal Planet called "River Monsters." It's about a guy who catches some very large and strange fish in rivers across the globe. He caught this one fish called a vampire fish that had these huge teeth that fit into cavites in its skull. I thought maybe that would look good on my big goldfish so I retrofitted the goldfish with big teeth.
Well like several ideas that I have had, this one got put up on a shelf in my workshop in the garage. Every so often I would pull it down and play with it. I even tried cutting out a female body to carve but I never got excited enough to pursue it. This year I pulled it down and decided it was time. I decided to drop the whole goldfish cracker idea and go with a different kind of fish. I picked the angler/lantern fish.
I cut out the parts for my fish. It is laminated out of 6 layers of 3/4" pine. I screwed the layers together and shaped the body. Then I took the pieces apart so I could hollow out the interior. Along the way I thought about what else I could animate on the fish besides its jaw. I decided to attach the pectoral fins to the jaw pivot axle and connect the eyeballs to the axle as well. Then I ran a pushrod from the eyeball axle back to the tail fin and that moves too.
Once I had the case built I felt like I could add another element to the story. On the "When Goldfish Crackers Go Bad" I had a crab watching the scene. This time I decided to add an oyster. I really wanted an oyster with a scalloped edge rather than a simpler clam shell. It took me a few days to figure out how to do that. It was quite the challenge but turned out well.
I knew from the start I wanted to have a light that actually lit on my angler fish. I've done this before with "Jitters" and "Epiphany." Both of these use a battery and some sort of switch to turn the light on and off. This time I thought about making some sort of dynamo that would power the LED as you turned. That way the light would light when cranked and there would be no worry of a dead battery. I didn't have much luck. I found several sites that said you could use a small electric motor as a dynamo by spinning the motor's shaft and connecting the LED to the wire leads that usually supply power to the motor. The problem is that the motor has to turn really fast and it would require a big gear ratio to get the correct speed. So I went back to using a battery. I made a switch and cam that would make the light blink. I had an old LED candle that I scavenged the bulb and plastic "flame" housing. I ran the wires along a length of bendable wire and covered the whole thing with hot glue.
Now it was time to paint. I had no problem butterfly fish, coral and the oyster. The angler fish was a bear. I started out painting it green. I added stripes and it looked ok but I thought a different shade of green would be better. So I painted it again and added stripes. Now it looked like a watermelon. Next I tried brown. Bad choice. I thought back to when I was a kid and the ugliest fish we caught was called a bullhead, a greey catfishy fish. So I painted it a dark grey. Too dark. Next came a lighter grey but I didn't want it all solid so I went two tone with a purple. I like the cartoony look.
The final piece was the crank. I really wanted to make a fish skeleton as the crank. I made one attempt out of wood but it broke. I thought about going a metal route but decided not to. Maybe someday I'll venture into metal land. I thought about several options and settled on a sea turtle. I drew one up on a Sunday night before bed and on Monday I cut, assembled, painted and attached it! I like it a lot. The legs are pivoted so that they move as it swims around in its circle.
What I don't really have is a good title and would love to hear some suggestions from you. My first thought was "The One That Got Away." A second idea is "Beauty and the Beast." I'll wait for a few days to see if there is any response. I'm putting together a bigger video and will release it when I have a title.
Thanks for sticking through to the end of this lengthy blog entry. I hope you enjoy this piece. I've used the word challenge a lot but this one really did challenge me in several areas. I look forward to hearing from you.