I knew about this stuff that cured completely clear and thought it'd be cool to experiment with suspending 3D prints. This project came from another idea about a severed head in a glass jar - apparently like Futurama (thanks, Audrey) - but a bit more ghoulish. A full-scale 3D printed head is either super time-consuming (mCor paper printer) or super-expensive (color sandstone), so it may have to wait.
This little guy is cool enough to Halloween up the kitchen, tho.
Step 1: Download a model from the 123D Gallery
Use any fish model you like, or make your own. Just remember, it needs to be robust enough to stand up to some handling. I tried a full-color print in sandstone, but it's so brittle, I didn't want to take a chance breaking it.
When I saw Mr. Fish by Chuck Norris, I knew he was the one..! I used an Objet Connex at Autodesk. This guy is pretty simple, so a Makerbot should work totally fine.
Step 2: Set up for your casting
Small plastic aquarium (you can use glass, but it's heavier)
Decorations for the aquarium - gravel, plant
Encapso from Smooth-On
Measuring cups and larger mixing container
You can set up your fishbowl now - I wanted black gravel and a single, cute little plant for my fish.
Step 3: Cast - Away
This is the first time I've used Encapso from Smooth-On, and it's pretty cool. It's the same stuff used for shattered glass or prop ice in movies. It cures like a really tough Jello, and crumbles when you squish it. Here's the Smooth-On page for more info. I wanted to use it for a few projects, so I got the gallon size.
Encapso is a 1:1 mixture, so I just filled two paper cups to the top and combined them in a larger beaker - gently stir for a few minutes and pour into the fishbowl slowly to minimize bubbles. Repeat until you get up to the fish's level.
Don't worry about bubbles too much, unless it's under the fish itself. They seem to work themselves out before the material cures.
For this one, I experimented with dangling the fish by thread in the Encapso so that it wouldn't lay down or sink. If I had been a bit more prepared and cared to, I would have watched Martha do it and followed her lead.
Step 4: Remove Support And Fill In
I wasn't sure how the Encapso would cure on top of itself, so I did this one in one casting to avoid any visible seams. I had the idea that I could pull the thread out with minimal tearing of the Encapso. It kind worked. I used a long poke-y tool to stab into the material and hold the fish in place while I pulled the thread out. The cool thing is that if you tear the material or make a bubble, just mix up some more and pour it in the cavity - it cures pretty seamlessly.
In the future, I'd use the string and coffee stir support here, but with only the bottom of the fish in the Encapso. That way it will cure and hold the fish in place. Then you could fill the rest of the aquarium up with material and not get the little bubbles from the thread.
AND, for the next one, I think I'll put a little hole in the back and seal in some LED strip for lighting.