A Paper Clay Fish Tale

So...it's my husband's birthday this Saturday...and after 25 years of gift giving...I was at a loss about what to do this year. So I decided to make him some art. And about the only thing I know he would like is a fish. So I used this opportunity to experiment with making a free form paper clay piece...one that is not on a board or canvas.

I used balsa wood, matte board and tape for my backing. Unlike ceramic clay, paper clay would be too fragile and flimsy to use without a support on the back.

Below is my process. And I like how it turned out. But I need a better backing than balsa wood because it warps. But it actually gave the fish some roundness, so it worked out. But I am still on the search for a better backing material that is easy to cut.

I cut a fish form out of balsa wood and taped on, then glued the fins to it.

Then I covered it with paper clay and sculpted my fish with details.

After painting the clay with finishes, I painted it black.

Then I removed the black paint, leaving it in all the indentations.

Then I painted it with transparent acrylic paints.

To cover the back, I drew around the fish on black felt with a gel pen.

I cut out the felt and before gluing it to the back, I painted all the edges black.

I made a loop hanger out of ribbon and glued it and the felt down with wood glue.

Nice and tidy back. Important detail.

Finished fish. It's about 15" long...a good size for a fish...definitely a keeper.