Today we captured a snap of Mr. Harold Hopper with his beloved aquarium.
“I’ve been keeping fish for years,” he tells us. “After so many months and years spent on the sea before I retired, I like to have a little bit of the ocean to keep me company. So I keep goldfish.”
This round of Iron Craft was themed “It’s a Zoo Out There”. We were to make a project that featured an animal, could be used by an animal, or used animal-themed materials. Of course, I’m almost always making things “for” anthropomorphic animal characters, but making just any mini for my village seemed like a bit of a cop-out on the theme. So I wanted to make a project that focused on other animals in this imaginary world. Since all the villagers are mammals, this left me with making a project about birds, reptiles, amphibians, or fish.
And then I stalled out/procrastinated for two weeks. Finally, on Monday I realized I had to make something. So I finally settled on making a little fish tank. The past few rounds of Iron Craft I’ve been trying to avoid buying new materials for my projects. So I used things I had on-hand for this project.
The base of the tank is a 1″x 2″ piece of foam-core board. I smeared white glue on it and sprinkled it with some craft sand. After it dried, I added a second coat. Meanwhile, I cut some silk flower leaves into tiny little plants. I just eyeballed them. I then used Fast-Grab Tacky Glue to attach the plants. This glue has a more viscous consistency, so it kept the leaves fairly vertical. The five or so plants I had cut out looked a bit sparse, so I grabbed some green embroidery floss I had on-hand. I coated it lightly with white glue (just smearing a bit on it with my fingers) and let it dry. Once dry, I separated out the individual strands. This turned out awesome. It really looks like grassy underwater plants! After all the plants were glued in place, I added a bit more glue and a bit more sand where the plants and base met to ease the transition and cover up any shiny glue areas.
The walls of the tank are very thin acetate sheets. Mine is from Stampin’ Up. The sheets are scored at each corner. I then used narrow adhesive strips to attach the acetate to the foam core base. A narrow strip of black cardstock adhered over the top gives it a tidy look.
The next challenge was the fish. I struggled with this part of the project. I tried using styrofoam, but I am not talented enough to carve a realistic looking fish. I then tried origami (I have experience making tiny origami projects) but I couldn’t get them small enough to look right. I considered polymer clay, but I my sculpting skills are not nearly up to par. Finally, I decided to simply make them out of paper. I found an image of a goldfish and mirrored it in Photoshop so that it was attached at the mouth and could be folded in half so both sides looked good. I printed and cut them out. I carefully used a marker to make the paper edges orange (I find white edges on paper crafts like this ruin the look.) I had some ultra-thin clear thread on-hand (I can’t remember the gauge of it, but it is finer than strands of my hair) and I sandwiched it in between the two sides of the printed image and glued it all together with a tiny dab of white glue.
The top of the tank is an identical piece of foam board to the base. I cut out a piece of black paper to fit the foam board and poked holes in it to thread the clear thread through. Making sure that the fish were freely hanging into the tank, I affixed the thread to this piece of paper and glued the paper to the foam board. More narrow adhesive strips attached the “lid” to the acetate walls. This also helps keep the tank properly squared. More black paper was adhered to the top of the foam core and around the edges for a finished look.
I am really happy with how this project turned out. I love the freely hanging fish – they look really great in-person. It was nearly impossible to get an in-focus picture of this project, so I apologize for the blurriness and weird digital artifacts in my photos this week. I am so enjoying the Iron Craft challenge because it is forcing me to be creative in new ways – I never would have thought to make a tiny fish tank for my village without this round’s prompt – and I just love what I came up!