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Thread: What to expect with your first tail

  1. #1
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    What to expect with your first tail

    I have made an observation between reading people's reviews, talking with other tail makers, and talking with friends on here. I think some people don't always have the correct expectations for their first tails. Regardless of the tail type. If you've never used a tail before, seen one in person, or worn one, you may not know what to expect! I was thinking it would be nice to start a thread where those of us who have had multiple tails can share their experiences. I also think this might help people who are ordering their first tails have more realistic expectations. I've noticed, and I think a few others have as well, that some complaints being voiced are actually what's standard currently in the tail making community. There are some things that tail makers just don't have a solution for yet.

    So I'm going to share what I know, I'd love you to share what you know. Perhaps we can edit it all into a nice list to be stickied, and add it as a Tail Flip article!

    I've owned and used a fabric tail, a neoprene/latex (alex) tail, and 2 silicone tails. I've talked to tail makers, and I've looked at my own PERSONAL experiences. Here's what I've learned:

    •Most tails take time to get on until you get used to them and figure them out. Some tails have zippers, many don't. But if you've never put a tail on before even if it's fabric or silicone, it can take a bit to learn the ropes! Fabric tails and neoprene tails are easier to put on dry than silicone tails. Thicker tails are harder to roll down than thinner tails. Lubrication can help so long as it's not something that will degrade your tail.

    •If you've never worn a monofin before, they can be uncomfortable. Different monofins will feel differently. Some have straps some have pockets. It can take time to learn to wear and swim in a monofin correctly.

    •Most tails have seams, some tail makers have just worked out better ways to hide them. Many of the higher quality silicone tails have worked out ways so that you can only see seams up close. Many fabric tail makers add fringes or use sequins to hide seams. Point being, if two piece of materials are being put together- there will be a seam somewhere. So expect to see one unless you're specifically told you wont.

    •Unless you have an elastic waistband put into your tail (like Hannas) regardless of the tail type, in some situations (or in all situations depending on your tail) you WILL get drag, which WILL pull open your waist. Many mers compensate for this by wearing belts. However, it's nearly impossible to keep air/water from travelling into your tail through the waist line. In the behind the scenes for Splash the tail makers explained that the way they achieved such a realistic effect with Madison's tail (no waist line, no knees, no wrinkles etc) was to shrink wrap her legs in plastic. It doesn't mean your tail doesn't "fit". The majority of materials mermaid tails are made out of have some percentage of stretch. Silicone stretches, latex stretches, fabric stretches, neoprene stretches.

    •In that same line, most tails will wrinkle in some places. Why? Because the material stretches, and because we bend. The most common places for winkles are around the knee, and the ankles. If a tail is skin tight, it's still NOT skin, it's common to get wrinkles there. Some tail makers compensate by making those areas extra tight. It may give a good look, but can make it difficult to swim and move. Also tricky to get on (many have to reach down to pull monofin straps up when putting a tail on) It's been my personal experience that the thinner the material the likelier it is to wrinkle in those spots. My merbellas tail fit like a glove when I first got it. But it's thin. It still would wrinkle from time to time in those areas. My Jesse tail is super thick. it wont wrinkle as much, only in certain situations, but will still get a wrinkle in those spots. THE BEST WAY TO KEEP WRINKLES AWAY is to POINT YOUR TOES and keep your legs flexed. This is how so many mers achieve the wrinkle free look when posing for a photo. If I do that with my legs, I will have no wrinkles at all. You can also train yourself to swim and keep your legs straight behind you. I've lost weight now, so my merbellas tail is baggier (I'm saving up to have it taken in and extra fins added etc) a good trick for that sort of situation that I found in my experience works with ALL tail types, is to wear tights underneath. It gives the material something more tactile to grip to, reduces the amount of slipping and wrinkling, and can flesh out the tail and take away the costumed look. Point is, some wrinkling is normal, it doesn't mean your measurements are wrong.

    •Measurements! Another area that is always causing headaches. Rule of thumb: if you aren't measuring to at least your belly button or above it, you'll end up with a low rise tail. For some people, it can work, for others, it wont cover their bum! If you're concerned about your tail not covering your butt, ask the tail maker the best way to measure, and measure several times. Generally the response I got from asking many tail makers is that if you send them measurements that are below your belly button- that thing will not cover your bum.

    •Several tail makers use well hidden drainage holes. Some fabric/neoprene ones even keep hidden zippers or velcro. It's to help water escape, or help air move through to dry the tail. It does not mean your tail is damaged. Hannah's thread shows how her tail has an open fluke that is kept zippered. The german tail maker and many other fabric tail makers also have open end fluke designs. Several silicone tail makers that I speak to have drainage holes or slits.

    •If your silicone or latex is NOT tinted, paint will chip off. If you're going for a cheaper tail and opt to not have the materials tinted, your paint is only sitting on a clear surface and will chip/scuff.

    •With painting and tinting- lighter colours take longer and many more layers to set. This can delay tail production times.

    •Silicone and latex and their tin cures can take longer to cure in cold or wet weather. This can delay tail production times.

    •Most tail makers will say their tail's are neutral buoyancy or as close to neutral as can be. I've shown all my tails to my local diveshop and they actually believe they're all positively buoyant - though not by much. For some people, they can sink in a tail. For others, we can't (like me), That doesn't always mean your tail was poorly made or has problems. Some people just don't sink very well. If you can't sink when you swim normally, you may find investing in a weight belt will help you sink in a tail. This is not always the case, especially if your tail is trapping air in the fluke, (which can lead to you floating up tail first or butt first) but it's the general rule of thumb that if you can't sink without a tail you will likely still find it hard to sink with one.

    •Silicone is HEAVY. Unless you have a tail that's partially silicone, or made very thin, expect it to be heavy.

    •In that same thought, it can be hard to lift the fluke of a silicone tail. If you have a smaller monofin that doesn't fill the whole fluke, you wont be able to get it to stand straight up on it's own like mine does in my avatar.


    EDIT:

    A few more to add!


    • Tails are not invincible. No tail maker claims they are. Even a super expensive silicone tail will wear out over time, EVEN when you take good care of it. Typical things that can happen with silicone are minor holes and tears from pulling it on. They can be EASILY fixed with the right kind of silicone or dragonskin so that they can't be seen. (Trust me, I ding up my tail from time to time, fix it on my own, and nobody can tell anything- nothing to photoshop out)
    • CHLORINE WILL DAMAGE YOUR TAIL EVEN IF IT'S EXPENSIVE. Chlorine eats away at EVERYTHING so be sure to wash your tail with 1/4 baking soda or other alkaline substance to clear out the chlorine. Let it soak, and dry it properly. You should wash it right away.
    • TAILS CAN GET MOLDY. Even when you clean them and take good care of them. Sometimes, you cant get the mold out, but you can kill it. Vinegar is a great thing to use to kill mold, and stop it from spreading. How I clean mold when I get it: leave it soaking in vinegar for a few minutes, then use a toothbrush to gently scrub it away from the lining. I always try to dry my tail to prevent mold, but sometimes it can't be prevented.
    • Extra fins and dorsals are typically fragile regardless of what they're made of. They tend to be thinner, and are attached, so they have a higher chance of getting snagged on something. (I coat mine in a light film of vaseline or oil when I do photoshoots etc so they don't snag on anything, and I always tell kids not to pull on them)
    • Latex doesn't bond to silicone. So if you're ever attempting to fix your tail, don't put one on top of the other. It'll go all peely. However, if you're repairing the inside of your own neoprene+latex tail, you could use a silicone caulking to glue the inside of the fluke down.




    Edit #2 more things to add!
    MOST OF THE DAMAGE THAT HAPPENS TO TAILS, HAPPENS WHEN YOU PUT THEM ON, TAKE THEM OFF, AND DON'T CLEAN THEM RIGHT AWAY. Some wear and tear is 100% normal, these are COSTUMES not solid prosthetic.Consider that for h20 and Splash each tail needed to be repaired after each swim, and sometimes there were multiple tails for multiple scenes. SO it's normal, even though you paid a lot of money, even though it's expensive materials, for tails to have wear and tear even after a few swims. It's all in how you maintain it, how you use it and wear, and how you're putting it on and off.

    For more info, read my post about putting your tail on:

    http://mernetwork.com/index/showthre...4216#post84216
    Last edited by AniaR; 08-04-2013 at 07:09 PM.

  2. #2
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    K, I tried like so many times to format that thing so it wasn't either alllll bunched up, or allll spread out, and it just wouldn't work. If an admin thinks they can do it be my guest lol

  3. #3
    Thanks for posting this, Raina! It's really helpful!
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Pod of Cali Ashe's Avatar
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    Thanks Raina! I hope many new mers will see this and take your tips into consideration Even I have learned a few things!
    she believed she could, so she did
    formerly known as Kalani



  5. #5
    Yeah this is great! I'm DEFINATELY putting an elastic waistband in my tail, and were putting Velcro at the ends! Thanks for the tips raina!
    Mermaids have more fun

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by AniaR View Post
    K, I tried like so many times to format that thing so it wasn't either alllll bunched up, or allll spread out, and it just wouldn't work. If an admin thinks they can do it be my guest lol
    Funny story, I just spent half an hour fighting the bullet points on my new post XP I ended up just looking up how to type the point symbol (•) and just un-formatted everything and put those in instead :P The bullets in this have some weird spacing issues.. no idea what that's about! I went ahead and fixed it, becuase I know it must be driving you as nuts as my post was driving me, hahaha!

    Excellent post, by the way! It can be hard to know what to expect and know what is "normal" and what isn't. I think this will clear up some misplaced expectations for sure!

    Making this a sticky and putting it on some reference lists

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  7. #7
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    woowhooo *high fins* I have a feeling it'll get added to

  8. #8
    Thanks Raina for the post. Now I can know what to expect whenever I do get a tail. I shall pass on this knowledge to any other new mers.
    Mermaid Eris~
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    And blossom into the beautiful pearl you know you can be.

  9. #9
    LOL For me the biggest thing was its not easy getting into a tail the very first time or second time for that matter.. its like a dance as my fellow mers know especially those in the july mer meet up there was alot of pulling, sweating and breathing it was like giving birth (jv and shawn can vouch for me haha) after a few tries you get it down to an art..lol but still hard especially if you have a big butt like me ..
    Last edited by NewYorkMermaid; 01-20-2013 at 04:44 PM.


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  10. #10
    Senior Member Pod of Cali spottedcatfish's Avatar
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    Thanks Raina, now I know what to do with the tail I am working on, and also a future reference for what to expect if I get a tail. Which I plan to. :-)

  11. #11
    Senior Member Pod of the Great Lakes Arella's Avatar
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    Yay thx! Very informative

  12. #12
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    Thanks for posting this!! It's really useful!

  13. #13
    Quick question about the full silcone tails weight. Will it weigh you down in the water, or be hard to swim in? I don't really feel like drowning... lol

  14. #14
    Senior Member Pod of Cali Ashe's Avatar
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    Nope! Silicone tails are nearly weightless in the water, as with most other tails
    she believed she could, so she did
    formerly known as Kalani



  15. #15
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    Quick question about the full silcone tails weight. Will it weigh you down in the water, or be hard to swim in? I don't really feel like drowning... lol
    It depends on the tail, and the fluke. A heavy and thick tail can be tricky- because you can't bend your knees as easily, and it's been my experience in using both frequently, that it'll sink a little more than a lighter one. With a thinner tail you essentially have full range of motion to the degree you would have if you only wore a monofin. With a smaller fluke, it's easier to do turns and flips- but not as easy to pick up speed quickly, and get down deep quickly, and with a larger fluke (with a larger stiffer monofin) you can generally do speed and depth much better than the smaller one.

    Having swam in both a thin silicone tail with a big fluke, and a thicker silicone tail with a small fluke, I can say, it really does depend on your tail. But if you're a person who has no problem floating when you're out of a tail, you shouldn't have any problem floating in a tail. It can be awkward swimming in a tail regardless of it's type if you've never done it before.

  16. #16
    This is some great info! I am planning on buying my first tail this month and have decided to do kids parties ect..

  17. #17
    Senior Member Pod of Cali sydthefairebrat's Avatar
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    So about the waistband thing..the waist of my tail is made from the bottom portion of the the wetsuit below:
    Name:  wetsuit.jpg
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    It has a really thick seam, and actually kinda gives me muffin tops :P should I still expect the waist to open while swimming?
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  18. #18
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    I can't really answer that for sure, but I do find from years of looking at other people's tails in action at some point the waist usually opens regardless unless their is an outside or inside belt. If it gives you a muffin top though there's a good chance it wont open at the waist easily. My tail from Jesse doesn't usually open unless I dive down.

  19. #19
    I do have a question for curiosity sake, do silicon tails still have the heel straps attached to the monofins? I was discussing this with my fiance and we couldn't come to an agreement haha!

    Also! Fintastic post Raina! There is a lot of excellent information there! Well done!

  20. #20
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    it depends on the tail maker. My merbellas tail has heel pockets. (competitor) and so does my Jesse tail (foil) but I know tail makers will remove the straps if you don't want them. Personally, I'd have them kept there. It's hard to push a heavy tail if you feet aren't secure. I know a lot of people have complained in the past that it's very difficult to swim in MVD tails BECAUSE it's only a foot pocket and nothing comes up behind their heels so their feet always come out.

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