and the membrane connects to the… fin bone

I really don’t know fish anatomy, but sure.

So, somewhere along the line I was pretty much set on doing tissue paper for membrane. I had tried silver, but the one side didn’t glue on; the glue mixture instead beaded up and didn’t do shit all to anything.

SO. White tissue paper it was.Which, thankfully, I have tons from an event I had decorated for. 

The glue mix I used was vaguely 50/50 Elmer’s Glue and water. I stored it in a pill bottle I had running around, which worked pretty well for keeping it closed when not used and dipping into. I used a brush to apply it to the now-dried clay fins. 

The first time I worked it, I tried for one layer and found myself ripping through it. I would do ‘chunks’ of tissue paper ripped off and glued over the front side of the fin, crossing several ‘fingers’ at a time. Admittedly, I found myself disliking the process. I got so used to the willy-nilly that working with clay encouraged, and I hadn’t switched my brain to be focusing on the details. I was just trying to rush through, not enjoy the process. 

The second session, I started into it with a mind to enjoy the focus of small details. I had spent the week between sessions to consider why I disliked the process and result, and came to a few conclusions: my focus was wrong and I thought I should try stringing a long strip of tissue paper between the two nearest fingers, rather than chunks acorss multiple fingers. So, that is what I hopped into it doing, also going over the membrane twice with tissue paper to make it thicker. More importantly, I focused on enjoying the process of slowly placing the strips and glue on.

I much liked the result! 

I went in later to fix up that rip – this was the back fin, which I used the second process of stringing tissue paper back and forth. 

After placing on the membrane, I found myself with a conundrum. In one fin, I had the tissue paper over top – I had very carefully smeared paper clay over the fingers to hide the tissue. The other fin had the paper on the back, and there was a little gap between the finger and membrane.

I sent this picture in a group chat I had with several art friends and asked for feedback on which they liked better. The concensus was for the one on the left, which made my life easier. No need to make a whole new fin, just smooth paper clay along the fins and connect the fins to membrane proper. 

I really enjoyed working with the tissue paper, but with the delicacy it has – even now, after it’s dried and a bit harder, I worry for any possible rips and tears. It’s a good technique I’ll keep in mind in case of future projects that’d be useful.

(Also ‘membrane’ makes me think of this song: Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches )