1000 sharks in the making

The 1000th project for this blog very much took on a life of its own. I knew I wanted to make something big and impressive so the idea of making 1000 of something had a lot of appeal. The laser makes it very easy to churn out 1000 identical items so I also wanted to make something that needed assembly, something where I had specifically touched all 1000 things. So I built this little shark model, it had a few iterations and eventually ended up with five ribs and a flexible tail.



I managed to tessellate 60 onto a sheet of poplar ply and I set the machine to cutting out 18 sheets, each sheet taking just over an hour to complete. In between sheets I would pull the parts out of the laser and scoop them into boxes for later assembly. I spent many nights sat in front of the TV assembling parts and in full flow I was assembly one every 45 seconds, so it was roughly another 18 hours for shark assembly. This left me with two,80L crates full of sharks and lots of time to figure out what the next step should be



Arranging the sharks into some kind of sharknado was appealing but it would need a sturdy framework. Suspending 1000 sharks inside a fish tank would be cool but there would be a lot of strings so I hit upon the idea of sticking the sharks together to form a larger shark. One big thing made from lots of smaller things would look pretty good so I set about making one giant shark from all these pieces.

The first step was to create a former to make sure I got the right shark shape. Thankfully with a laser cutter you can change the scale of things pretty easily and in no time at all I had a full sized model form corrugate card. This allowed me to check it for size in the final tank and gave me something to work around. I just started gluing sharks into location on the side of the cardboard, putting them between the ribs and making sure that the shark picked up the right shapes in the right proportions. Because the card was flexible I was about to add a bit more shape into the design as it evolved.



Each shark was built in several stages and took about 40 hours each to complete. The first half of the shark was built against the cardboard former. All the sharks were packed as tightly as possible and hot glued together. Two more layers of sharks were added on top of that giving the body some shape. Next the fin was added to the top and sides and the tail made last. Because the tail was the thinnest part it was the first thing built on the other side when the cardboard was removed. The flexible corrugate spine allowed me to add some curves into the body shapes.



The first shark only used around 500 of the smaller sharks which left me a problem, I had to build a second shark to use up all 1000 sharks. The second shark was built in the same manor but it gave me a chance to put the shark in a different pose.



To make the shark tank I took the laser crate from a Greyfin laser cutter and very carefully extracted the laser trying not to dismantle the box. I secured the lid back down and had full access through one of the side panels. In the walls of the tank I cut holes for the portholes and screwed them in using Dome nuts to give them an extra nautical feel. I used the large Just Add Sharks Stencil to spray paint the company logo onto the side of the tank taking care to mask off the red and black areas as required.



The inside of the tank was painted white to hide the footprints and marks left from the laser cutter and the whole thing was illuminated with a water effect lamp. The sharks were suspended from the ceiling using fishing wire and hooks screwed into the sturdy points of the roof.