If you make a good movie, you will get a fish tail
In the 2020 Split Film Festival was celebrating its 25th anniversary and its founder Branko Karabatić contacted me regarding the Festival's trophies. He wanted a fresh redesign of the trophy. So I accept the challenge.
The symbol of the festival is tuna tail. Till this year the trophy was a realistic metal sculpture. It is 32 cm tall, 6 cm thick on the bottom but flipper is very thin, max 5 mm but much thinner on sharp edges.
I started working and challenges appeared one by one. Tail was bigger than my 10 liters pressure pot, so it took me a few days of thinking if it is possible to build a bigger one. I went to the scrapyard searching for an old boiler but I didn't find anything useful. Furthermore, I haven’t got a welding machine yet nor much welding experience, and the pot needed to resist 2 bars of air pressure. It was too dangerous to improvise, so I decided to make it without a pressure pot.
First I made a silicon mould on an archival trophy and cast the first prototype which I threw in garbage immediately. Flipper was too fragile and with few big bubbles.
Then I constructed some simple shaking mechanism from the old power drill. I used fast entropy resin which curing time is 72 hours, enough for big bubbles to rise on the surface. I turned the mould upside down and I poured resin through a 10 cm wide hole which became the bottom of the sculpture. I got rid of big bubbles. Thank you entropy.
Second try, I needed to put some fiberglass inside. I added 25 g of ultralight woven glass cloth in layers, but it was so visible and a lot of small bubbles stuck on the clothes. It looked like some garbage inside fish - unintentionally conceptual for some art exhibition.
I tried the third time. I used 30 g of glass surface tissue which I chopped on coin size pieces. I put them on the bottom of an empty container and poured resin very slowly on it to prevent air trapping. Then I put the container in a vacuum chamber, to get rid of small air bubbles. I got some kind of blob which I filled in the flipper part of the tail. I squeezed mould between two boards then. Lot of resin leaked between two parts of the mould and it was messy until I squeezed the board to the end and I poured mould to the top. Three days later I finally got some decent piece with a really strong and transparent flipper. Thin piece full of fiberglass which I made at the same time for the purpose of the crush test was very tough. Actually, the trophy is laminated and casted both at the same time.
In addition, in order to make it stronger I needed a post-curing process. I made an oven especially for that purpose. I put the tail inside the trunk of my car. Since it was August in Dalmatia, the sun was very strong. The temperature was about 60°C. The tail was in the mould because I didn't want him to deform because of heat.
Then I made two more trophies, climbed on the roof of my house, put it on the chimney and took all these photos.