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A Fat Fish for the Line
- by Ken Friis Hansen

Ken's comments: (Carlos' redo of Dorf's original translation. So we are not sure who to blame.)

At this year's Fano festival I saw a line with all kinds of sea-animals hanging from it: jellyfish, mermaids and fish. Especially one of the fish caught my attention: A fat and cute cartoon-like fella' with stripes. I just had to have one!

Well home from Fano I sat down on the couch with pen and paper and started to draft my future fish. When I had filled an entire page with fish, fins, tails and bridles all that was left was to figure out how to actually make such a fish.

I decided on these dimensions:

  • length of body 60 cm
  • diameter at mouth 15 cm
  • diameter at belly 50 cm
  • diameter at tail 20 cm

Knowing your math the rest is simple. Anyway, here is how it goes! The fish is barrel-shaped and cross-sections along the length will yield circles of changing diameter. To be able to draw the template the diameter at mouth, belly and tail is needed. Here's where the math enters:

  • Circumference Pi * diameter (Pi=3.14)
The circumference of the fish at mouth, belly and tail thus computes to:

  • Circumference mouth 3.14 * 0.l5 m = 0.47m
  • Circumference belly 3.14 * 0.50 m = 1.57 m
  • Circumference tail 3.14 * 0.20 m = 0.63 m

Now we so to speak know "the distance around" the fish in both ends and at the middle. If the fish is to be made out of eight panels the width of the panels becomes

  • Width at mouth = circumference mouth / 8 = 0.47 m /8 = 5.8 cm
  • Width at belly = circumference belly / 8 = 1.57 m /8 = 19.6 cm
  • Width at tail = circumference tail / 8 = 0.63 m /8 = 7.0 cm

The length of the template must be that of the fish =60 cm. With all the needed dimensions all that is left is to connect the points with a smooth curve. This can be accomplished by bending a thin fiberglass rod, making the template look something a little like this:

The side, back and tail fins are based more or less on your fantasy! The only thing to watch out for is, that the width of the tail where it is to be sewn onto the body must match the circumference of the body at that place! Eg. in my case the width of the tail must be circumference tail /2 = 31.4 cm.

The fins are made by sewing two identical pieces together, so they can be inflated by the airpressure in the fish.

The two pieces for the tailfin
can look somewhat like this:
Two backfin-pieces are made
somewhat like this:
and four sidefin-pieces
somewhat like this:
They are also sewn together two and two as "bags." It may appear complex at first glance, but it really is quite simple!
Now the fish is to be assembled. Start out with the fins: Sew the two pieces for each fin together along the outer edge - meaning the edge where the fins are not to be attached to the fish. Decide in which three panels the two sidefins and the backfin goes. Cut appropriate holes in the panels and sew the fins to these holes.
When the wind inflates the fins they tend to deform the fish. To prevent this a mesh/screen can be sewn to the cutout in the panel, or little pieces of line can be attached across the hole.
The eight panels are sewn together (with the seams on the inside of the fish), and finally the tailfin is sewn in place.
All the fish needs now is two eyes and a mouth. The edge of the mouth is hemmed with a band, making a sleeve in which a short wire/hollow tubing or something similar is inserted to keep the mouth open.
Attach four lines to the mouth (of the fish!) and gather the lines in a swivel in front of the fish, which is now complete!
Many have asked me how I make my fish, hence this a bit longish explanation. I hope this enables you to make templates for fish with other dimensions than those I have used.
Hope to see a lot of "cartoon-fish" on the kitelines!
Ken Friis Hansen