Forum: Advice / Do It Yourself

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how to make a Mermaid Tail? (karma: 1)
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Mon Dec 31, 2007 08:11 PM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 21:37:15 adding pictures!
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 21:41:17 edit
Moved to Do It Yourself by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-23 00:09:09 Just moving this to the DIY for a bit. Although the project is more craft-based, a lot of the materials used are 'DIY' esque.

I've got a photographer friend. We've done a few photoshoots in the past - have tossed up the idea of an underwater photoshoot for a while now. Since it's so hot right now, it came up again... then I mentioned the word 'mermaid' and the rest is history!


Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/mermaidrentalsfabrictail.jpg'
* The first site we looked at was MermaidRentals - makers of the Splash and Charmed tails.
www.mermaidrentals.com . . .

Unfortunately, this was just way out of my price range. Yes I want a tail, but I'm probably only going to use it once. Or twice.


Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/wave-2.jpg'
* Then, we looked at just buying the monofin, and making the tail myself. Bingo! There's a retailer of the monofin 20 minutes away from my house. Technically, it's still cheaper to import the monofin from mermaidrentals though, so might do that. We'll see.


* I had a look at different mermaid tails. The ones on mermaidrentals.com is fair enough (the fabric tail), but I felt the fin shape was a bit boring. These ones are much more interesting www.merfolktails.com . . . I like the shape of this one: Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/Triciatail004copy.jpg'


Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/FWMGirl88.jpg'
* Then I found this video, of a girl swimming in her home-made tail
www.youtube.com . . .


* Then I found her 'how to make a tail' video
www.youtube.com . . .

Fascinating. I was wondering how the flipper bit worked (thoughts of easing a super-tight "ankle" bit over the wide part of the monofin had concerned me slightly). I don't quite like how the monofin is sometimes visible due to the open bottom though, so I'm considering putting some clasps or something there. I thought about closing it off entirely, before realising that it's probably left open to help avoid some of the water log!


I'd also like to adapt the shape of the fin. Again, plain triangular = boring. I'd like to have some of the interestingly-shaped fins like on the mermaidfolktails site. I'd like to pad them, because I have a feeling that in the water, the difference between the fin and the loose fabric will just look stupid
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/Monofluke.jpg'


I'm unsure of what fabric to get. Vinyl is certainly tougher, but there are less colour choices. Lycra is interesting, but it's not very strong (eg the 'waddle' on cement to get to waterside), can overstretch, and I sure as heck don't want to sew a tail twice. I'm thinking about doing a double-layer tail (one of vinyl/lycra, or maybe even vinyl/iridiscent chiffon or something). No clue what to use for padding either, and how to avoid the waterlog problem?


So, that's my progress so far. Very much in the theoretical stage. I'll try to track my process here in case anyone else is interested in making a tail/still harbours childhood fantasies about being a mermaid (oops did I say that out aloud?).

If you have any experience, please let me know!

28 Replies to how to make a Mermaid Tail?

re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Niennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Jan 01, 2008 07:30 PM
I have to say, this is the coolest idea. Ever.

I have no experience with this sort of thing, but I started searching around and found this website of a professional mermaid model:

www.hannahfraser.com . . .

Her fin is really pretty! Perhaps the videos of her swimming and the pictures could provide some inspiration?

Please keep us updated, this is such a cool idea!
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Sun Jan 06, 2008 07:27 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 21:54:24 edit
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 21:55:40 edit
Pro: The Weeki Wachee Springs website is more useful than I originally anticipated.
www.weekiwachee.com

I've been here stacks of times. Always dismissed it as a useless commercial website. But after trying to figure out the dilemma of where to put the zip (the girl in the video seems to recommend a centre back zip, but come on - with two size seams, I am NOT sewing a three-piece tail) these girls have a long side zip. It's got an ugly fold, but I might be able to remedy this with the help of lycra/long invisible zipper. I've got short legs!

They also help solve the dilemma of the flipper bit... I keep freaking out about the shape of the tail. I don't want something that follows the shape of the Monofin and looks stubby, but at the same time, anything that's not padded and shaped outwards to the side will flop in the water and just look... weird (weekiwachee.com . . .)

None of the tails the Weeki girls use have padding. Some (not all) have the shape I want.

Instead of extending the fabric flipper out to the side, if you follow the fin and simply EXTEND - using the base opaque fabric to make the two-pronged shape we know and love, and a sheer fabric to make it pretty...
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/normal_KarriFeb16-06004.jpg'

Then you get THIS.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/normal_CrystalSep05-05001.jpg'
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/normal_MarcySep05-05008.jpg'

Which, awesomely, doesn't look stupid and looks appropriately ethereal and all-around lovely.

Con: There are no national stockists of the Tempo Monofin. I have to import from overseas.
I can only get the kiddy fin. I do have exceptionally small feet, but I have a feeling I might be pushing it. The Tempo Monofin is the "ladies" version, and will cost about $150 AUS including shipping. Ugh!

I'm going to see if I can try on the kiddy fin to see if it fits first ($99 AUS). It's the same length and width as the Tempo, so it's all about how well my feet fit. Fingers crossed that it works.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By DeeDeesPremium member
On Sun Jan 06, 2008 07:39 AM
What ever you do you just have to post pics or video. Coolest idea ever. I love it.

Have fun

ps
just an idea
I make props for daughters dance studio and we use foam aerobic mats , apply heat to mat, we use a heat paint stripper gun and you can make it keep its shape.
We've made hundreds of props using this method.
D
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Sun Jan 06, 2008 08:11 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-06 08:19:06 edit
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 22:05:22 edit
Yes, but would they mould around a human body, and how would it cope in the water? :/ Terrified of things falling apart!

My friend suggested whatever they use in wetsuits, but I have a feeling that even if I could *get* that, my sewing machine might just go into apoleptic shock :/

Just found another tail shape. This one is VERY COOL! No idea what it's made of but certainly food for thought.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/latexmermaidtail.jpg'
www.youtube.com . . .

EDIT: oh my god! Shouldn't have watched this video. Massive tail envy right now.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/HFandother.jpg'
www.youtube.com . . .
^ this kind of tail is obviously hugely expensive... custom made and all that jazz. :( Oh, the luxury of working with rubber!
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 06:52 PM
the kiddy fin FITS!!!
Hurrah. I'd want to cut the fin though, to make it a little more interesting (a little bit more traditionally 'mermaid ish, with the a kind of two-pronged fin). Am worried that by cutting into the rubber, it will lose some of it's aquadynamic quality. Trying to figure out if I could re-heat the rubber to make it melt slightly at the tips, therefore restoring some element to aquadynamics? Or is it not worth it?

The Search for Neoprene
All the really nice tails are made out of neoprene. They last longer, they look better, and you can wear your bikini bottoms underneath without having to worry about lines.

Of course, all the really nice tails are also painted. I've been going nuts over google today, trying to figure out what to use to paint neoprene - and most importantly, what paint can withstand stretch AND repeated water contact.

I've found some neoprene fabric retailers on the web, and the colour choices are severely limited. I'm giving serious thought to making a neoprene base with a normal lycra or even cotton jersey upper layer, purely because that's easier to colour.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By irishdaydreamermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:01 PM
Oh Glitterfairy! YOU ARE MY HERO!!! I have been trying to find out how to make a mermaid tail forever!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Thu Jan 10, 2008 10:20 PM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-10 22:39:58 edit
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 22:11:31 edit
oh, my pleasure!

I feel like I'm on first-name basis with half the neoprene and monofin-associated websites in the world.

Some of today's discoveries:

www.youtube.com . . .
She painted her neoprene with regular fabric paint - standing in it for 5 hours until it dried (well, that'd sort out the problem of painting it flat, then wearing it and seeing all the cracks in the painted fabric that show the stretch). How could I replicate this at home with only me... anyone got some spare model legs handy? What happens if I like, stuff it full of newspaper and paint it? What happens then the painted tail shrinks back to normal size after use?

I really need to ask this girl about the state of her tail, it's been a while since the video was taken. If only my computer and YouTube got a long better... (I posted a comment on another mermaid video about an hour ago. It's STILL posting.)

I find this tail interesting because most sites - deep water divers/paint people etc, say that neoprene more or less can't be painted, or if you do, involves some pretty heady chemicals that I'm not inclined to play with at home.

Making your own monofin
Now... how to get a beautifully shaped tail a la Brooke Fraser? According to some of her Youtube posts, she makes the fins herself out of some kind of plastic. They do make some 'dolphin shaped' fins, but either not dolphin enough, or not long enough for the ideal mermaid look.

This guy, however, is making a tail that you could pretty much shape however you like... I wonder if this is how Brooke Fraser does it? (She says she uses 'polyethelene plastic'.)

Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/DIYmonofin.jpg'
forums.deeperblue.net . . .

EDIT: Tail envy, tail envy!
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/sirena.jpg'
www.youtube.com . . .
^How did they shape the monofin is what I want to know. HOW DID YOU SHAPE YOUR MONOFIN? (I'd want mine a little bit more "v" than that though)

www.youtube.com . . .
^ How did they shape the monofin, and how did they get the scale effect? They talk a lot about paints, is it a stencil, or is the scale effect cut into the fabric itself? (it'd have to be neoprene or some other foam-based material for them to do this sort of thing)
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 05:10 AM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-11 05:11:21 edit
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-11 05:14:04 edit
I am an e-stalker of Hannah Fraser's comments on YouTube
I find this very embarrassing to admit, but it's true :/

This is what I've gleaned from her few comments on youtube:

hannahfraser
The patterns on the light blue tail are done with a small dry brush.. not airbrush.
cheers, HANNAH


hannahfraser
fabric paint.


hannahfraser
I create a homemade monofin out of polyethelene plastic that is inside the neoprene tail. HANNAH


hannahfraser
Hi there, I am actually creating my own home made style monofin at present, but I am about to start working with FINIS fins as they have some good designs. I would suggest you try checking those out! best wishes, HANNAH


idzit
Thanks for your helpful tips! Did you make the tail you are wearing in this video? I love the blue / yellow combo, and the frilly yellow part. What kindo f fabric did you use for the yellow?!
I make reproduction period costumes, and recently sparked an interest in making myself a mermaid tail...

hannahfraser
Hi there, the yellow is a fringe tassle from fabric store.. like the bottom fringing of a curtain or something.


hannahfraser
yes, my tails are made with neoprene. And yes, I am in the short film Hearts Atlantis! Thanks for the comments.. Hannah


mermaidz19
hey, did eric ducharme make ur tail? i's really cool and i've been looking 4 a less expensive 1 then the 1 i've found. cool vid! keep up the good work.

hannahfraser
No, I make all my own tails. They are not inexpensive...
good luck finding what you are after! HANNAH

mermaidz19
how do you make them? if you don't mind me asking. they're really cool.

hannahfraser
It's a fairly involved process.. the simple story is Polyurothane, silicone, neoprene, booties, liquid nails, floor runner plastic, fabric paint and lots of time! HANNAH

mermaidz19
but how do you make the mold of the tail? it must be fairly complicated. thanks!

hannahfraser
It is not moulded. That's all I would like to share on how I make my tails publicly. Thanks so much for your interest. Best wishes, Hannah


So long story short:

* custom monofin (that explains the shaped fin)
* neoprene
* regular fabric paint (THANK GOD)

The only bit I can't quite work out is where the polyurethane comes in, assuming the 'floor runner plastic' is what she uses to make the fin (upon which she glues the flipper 'booties' on with the liquid nails).

Hannah Fraser on Youtube wrote:


hannahfraser
hi there, yes I make the tails myself. It takes abut 3 weeks and about $500 in materials, and a lot of trial and error!

Please let that be in Australian dollars, and I'll be a happy girl.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Niennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Jan 11, 2008 08:32 PM
I must say I am so happy I was able to point you towards Hannah Fraser! I'm so excited for this project for you lol, I really hope it all comes together! I wonder if you would be able to message someone who has shaped their monofin directly and see how they did it?
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Mon Jan 14, 2008 09:20 PM
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-14 22:13:01 edit
Edited by glitterfairy (42646) on 2008-01-15 07:16:03 edit
Unfortunately, most of the 'DIY' monofins on the internet are 'real' fibreglass ones. A few amateur 'recreational monofin' makers are considering shaping theirs, and all the professional monofin shapers are keeping their lips sealed.

dangslow's been rather useful via pm for DIY monofin ideas though, so that's still looking like my best option right now.

I may not know what I am making my tail and fluke fin out of, but I can at least work out the pattern for the tail.

this is my favourite tail so far.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/hannahfrasermermaidcensoredcropped.jpg'
^ I'm not planning on doing the back and side fins though. These are painted scales on neoprene, and I think it's a really nice effect.

In terms of colour scheme, I'm thinking about using this for inspiration - I like the graduated purple/blue/dark green thing. I'd probably change the upper colours a little bit to a) get the skin effect like HF's and so it suits my skin tone a bit more though.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/Creatures-of-the-Deep-Belly-Dancer-.jpg'

Now, let us return to the basic monofin idea... this is a NORMAL monofin.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/fabric-tail.jpg'

But this is how big the HF one is...
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/hannahfraserunderwater.jpg'

Bit of a difference, isn't there?


Obviously the exact tail measurements aren't on display, but I did an outline sketch to at least figure out what the ratios might be like.
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/hannahfrasermermaidoutlinecroppedli.jpg'

Although I initially considered a one-piece tail, I've since realised that with the shaped fin, it's not physically possible. So two-piece it is!

two-piece tail with S seams
Image hotlink - 'http://i52.photobucket.com/albums/g26/glitter_on/hannahfrasermermaidoutlinecropped2p.jpg'


The double line is indicative of the textured fin edge. Referring back to the original photograph, it looks like it's glued on (that'd be useful to hide a zip).

As soon as I make sense of my mathematical ratio/proportion thing, I'll be back... it looks like the fluke width is about double shoulder width, and fluke length is about length from knee to ankle.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Pink_Peppermember has saluted, click to view salute photos
On Tue Jan 15, 2008 06:48 AM
^ No one mesures 5.5 cm across their shoulders, sorry. My index finger is longer thatn 5.5 cm.


That is such a beutiful idea! I remember reading a bout some lady that is a mermaid in a huge tank in a NY restaurant. Her tails were just silk and you could see the ties going around her legs, but they were so different and elegant!
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Tue Jan 15, 2008 07:14 AM
Pink_Pepper wrote:

^ No one mesures 5.5 cm across their shoulders, sorry. My index finger is longer thatn 5.5 cm.


That is such a beutiful idea! I remember reading a bout some lady that is a mermaid in a huge tank in a NY restaurant. Her tails were just silk and you could see the ties going around her legs, but they were so different and elegant!


Uhh...

glitterfairy wrote:

Obviously the exact tail measurements aren't on display, but I did an outline sketch to at least figure out what the ratios might be like.
If you hold a ruler up to the screen, you might find out that the image is more or less in proportion to the measurements I've written down. The real Hannah Fraser is 171cms tall, but I only had her photo to work with, so that's how I measured - I can then measure myself and do a cool mathematical formula to figure out exactly how big her tail is.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Dance__DivaPremium member
On Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:16 AM
Edited by Dance__Diva (149094) on 2008-01-15 10:17:36
Edited by Dance__Diva (149094) on 2008-01-15 10:18:57
I love this idea! I never knew about monofins, and never thought that you could make a tail. Thank you so much for making this thread; this sounds like such a fun project. Good luck! My favorite tail from Hannah Fraser is the one you posted as well. I love watching her videos too. :P I'm definitely watching this thread. If we can figure this out, I'd love to make one as well. :)
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Tue Jan 15, 2008 06:13 PM
At the moment, the actual method is more time-consuming than difficult, but the materials required are slightly harder to acquire.

My main issues at this point are finding a non-bulk Neoprene supplier (I don't need 100 sheets!!!) and figuring out the monofin. With dangslow's help I have surmised that silicone is used to glue to shoe onto the fin and that the liquid nails is used to glue the neoprene tail sideseams together, but the actual monofin fluke material itself is going to be a bit of a challenge... there are a few options hanging around, but I'm trying to go for the one that's easiest for a person like me (no building or construction background, completely clueless in a hardware store) to get.

When I'm done, I'll post up instructions + sketches so everyone else can have a go :)
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:13 AM
I can BUY rubber!
So, I found a rubber supplier in my state. They even sell neoprene!

Do they sell fabric-backed neoprene though? I have no idea and fear they don't. Worst case scenario, how would one go around gluing fabric to neoprene?

I also have to figure out whether it's worth trying to put in a zip at the back to the tail to make it easier to put on. Neoprene stretches, but I'm not very hippy to begin with and I'm TERRIFIED that the whole thing will just slip off when I'm in the water, especially since I'd prefer a 'hipster' tail. On the down side, a zip could have a really bulky line, and how on earth do I cope with a 3-piece tail?! Seems it'd be easier to just make a 'slip on' tail with press studs on the fluke seam to get the monofin out.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:35 AM
Maybe you could find a water-proof spray-on adhesive that will attach fabric to neoprene? If you could then you would get out of having to suddenly become an amazing artist and do all that painting. Then again, maybe you are already an amazing artist. That is the part that would intimidate me the most though. I'd rather find some incredibly shiny and sparkly fabric - but you'd have to get swatches and see how they would look underwater.

This is a fascinating thread and I really wish you luck with it all. I can't wait to see the finished result! I'm a little worried about one thing - keep track of weight and maneuvarability of the whole contraption - no one wants to see our glitter sinking to the bottom of the pool!
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Cadbury_Eatermember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Jan 25, 2008 06:49 AM
This thread is so cool. This just reminded me of that show H20:Just Add Water lol. I added a picture so you can see what their tails look like.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By FireGypsy
On Sun Jan 27, 2008 08:52 PM
I have made a step by step video tutorial for making your own swimmable mermaid tail on youtube.

www.youtube.com . . .

Enjoy =)
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Dance__DivaPremium member
On Sun Jan 27, 2008 09:56 PM
Edited by Dance__Diva (149094) on 2008-01-27 22:06:57
I just found this website:

home-1.worldonline.nl . . .

He's made his own shaped monofin. Perhaps the website can provide some useful tips.
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By JENNE1984
On Wed Feb 20, 2008 04:38 AM
right! thats it. this weekend coming is going to be dedicated 2 making a mermaid tail. it looks fairly simple and is so effective for photo shoots. thanks everyone. xxx
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By Celebrianmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Tue Feb 26, 2008 06:04 PM
My goodness, i just stumbled across this thread and it is just so interesting I kept coming back between bathing my boy, putting on his PJs and now he's resting on my lap whining! haha.

Can't wait to see how your fin comes out. You ever think of designing it after a particular fish tail that's your favorite, like a koi fin, a betta fin or something? (Of course you have, ignore that stupid question.)
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member
On Fri Feb 29, 2008 12:54 PM
So how goes your quest, glitter? Any success?
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By glitterfairyPremium member
On Sat Mar 15, 2008 06:17 AM
Celebrian - I think I'll be going for the classic 'dolphin tail' look (or whatever it is that Hannah Fraser has).

Mermaid tail plan is currently on the shelf as other projects have taken a higher priority... I now have to sew my second bata de cola! (that's the heavily ruffled flamenco skirt with the train)
re: how to make a Mermaid Tail?
By BallerinaWanabee
On Mon Apr 28, 2008 07:10 PM
oh wow!
if you ever find out how to make one, please fill me ib
=]

it's ounds like such a fun project.
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