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Oarfish Coming to Life

For the last six months, OEC modelmaker Carolyn Thome has been hard at work creating the model of a ten-foot-long Regalecus glesne (oarfish), an ocean-dwelling creature at times mistakenly thought to be a sea monster by the rare few who see one in nature. This is one of the four life-size models that will be displayed in the National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Hall, opening in September.

Unlike the mold for the Giant Japanese spider crab model, which was made using a real crab specimen, the mold for the oarfish model was formed from a clay sculpture Thome shaped based on photographs of the silver-colored oarfish. The final product is made from fiberglass, as is the crab. A steel channel was set lengthwise inside the model so it can be mounted to the wall. The model will be displayed vertically, much as the fish actually swims.

Once the fiberglass model was cast, Thome airbrushed a water-based glue onto the model, before applying aluminum leaf one square at a time with a soft brush. A clear coat then set the aluminum before Thome airbrushed natural-looking blue and black markings onto the model with a stencil she made.

The oarfish model will be completed in a couple of weeks, when the red dorsal fins and large crest have been attached to the body.

top photo: The ten-foot-long oarfish in the model shop.
bottom photo: Thome uses a stencil to paint spots on the oarfish with an airbrush.

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