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Thread: ★ The Accessory Making FAQ ★

  1. #1

    Post ★ The Accessory Making FAQ ★

    The Accessory Making FAQ


    Here's a little FAQ for accessory making to answer some commonly asked questions.


    •I need to save some money on this stuff.. any pointers?

    The chain stores Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michaels all put out regular coupons. They even have apps for mobile devices and can scan them right from your phone screen. Michaels releases them weekly and almost always they have a 40% off any regular priced item. Michaels only allows one coupon per customer per transaction. JoAnns releases 40% off coupons on a regular basis and 50-60% around holidays. Most locations allow no limit of coupons per transaction, as long as they're all different an valid coupons (tip- for more coupons, sign up with multiple email accounts or for each person in your household for in-mail coupons). Hobby Lobby has a weekly 40% off coupon. JoAnns and Michaels will take competitor coupons if both stores have the same item.


    •Where do you get lion paw shells?

    You can find lion paw shells at craft stores and shell shops. The chain stores Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michaels all carry lion paw shells, though certain locations may not have them. If you have a shell shop locally there's a strong chance they will carry them as well. If you don't have anywhere local, there are plenty of shell shops online as well as shops on eBay and Etsy that sell them. I recommend that you contact the seller and ask if you order 2 if they can hand pick 2 shells that are about the same size and have roughly the same look to them. Most sellers will be happy to comply.


    •Where do you find netting?

    Netting is sold as decor at chain stores. Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michaels all carry netting. Some in black as well as regular. Some shell shops sell it. Hobby Lobby caries it in store and online (http://shop.hobbylobby.com/products/fish-net-600155/).
    Other than that you can just find it online at random stores. It's usually called fishing net or fish net with descriptors like decor, decorative, authentic, nautical. If you use google you can also put in "-stockings" "-tights" "-leggings" to get rid of those from search results to make sure it's looking for fishing net not fish net that you wear. If your'e looking for large quantities, some military surplus stores carry large bunches of it.

    Aussie mere may be able to find some at The Party People (http://www.thepartypeople.com.au/pro...ng-small-brown).

    This stuff IS actual recycled fishing net, so it can smell bad or be quite stiff. Just wash it in the washing machine with detergent and vinegar to help kill the smell, and hang to dry.

    If all else fails, you can make your own! Great tip from deepblue, "I made mine. I didn't like the colors and/or materials I was finding in stores or online. Once you get the hang, hand-netting is easy and fast. http://www.nightshaderose.com/netting/intro.php Also, I didn't have the tools, I improvised, and it all came out lovely."


    •Where do you find fake seaweed?
    At any store that has a faux plant section! Most people purchase theirs from Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michaels. Just keep in mind that it's not actually labeled "seaweed" or anything like that. Just go into the greenery section and pick out what you think would look good!

    I advise to stick to the plastic plants if possible. The cloth/silk types tend to color fade, fray, separate from their veined backings, and generally lose shape when repeatedly exposed to the water. Keep in mind that the "tea leaves" from Michaels has an issue of the paint chipping off over time. It's possible this issue may be over come by a good sealer.

    Here's a photo of seaweed picked up from craft stores if you're not sure what to look for.




    •Where can I find shells to make accessories with?
    You can find them sold in bags or sets at Hobby Lobby, JoAnn Fabrics, and Michaels. Dollar stores sometimes carry them. There are also lots of shell stores online, and lots of listings for beautiful shells on eBay and Etsy.


    •Where can I find large polished abalone shells?
    You can find large polished abalone either at some shell shops (Florida has lots of these), or online. eBay and Etsy are the two best sites for finding these. Keep in mind that they tend to be $20+ for each shell. Make sure they are large enough for what you want to use them for- for instance I wouldn't recommend shells below 5 inches in width for a shell bra. Use Google search operators help you. Like to search for shells between 5 and 8 inches, "5..8 inches" or "127..203 mm". Use search terms like "large polished abalone" "polished haliotis fulgens" "polished paua shell" ect.

    If you want to attempt to polish abalone yourself, remember that it's a hazardous and very laberous process. Abalone shell dust is TOXIC AND the particles are barbed and will damage your lungs. ALWAYS use a P100 particle respirator (can be found at hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowes) and/or do all work underwater so the water catches the dust. The dust can cause lung disease, so don't skip safety. (In professional shops a vacuum inside of a sealed box is used, where the gloves are attached to the box and sealed so the shell can be held while grinding.) This is a good site that gives details on how to do it yourself.


    •My abalone shells are dull when dry and/or fragile. How can I fix this?
    The best way to give abalone shells permanent shine and to make them stronger is to coat them in resin. Epoxy resin or "craft resin" as some call it, is the best option, as some casting resins do not cure if they are exposed to air. The brand Casin' Craft EasyCast resin is what is recommended. Be sure to read the instructions, as if you do not follow them your resin will not cure correctly or perhaps not even at all. And as always follow safety instructions. Gloves and protection for your working area are musts. You can simply brush the resin on the shells with a paintbrush- just be aware that all mixing containers and paintbrushes you use will be one-time-use and will have to be discarded after. You may want to cover your shells with an overturned bowl, dish, or box to keep dust and/or pet fur from settling on them while they cure.


    •What can I use to tie things when making my accessories?
    You can use fishing line to secure things nearly invisibly, or you can use hemp cord. I don't recommend string or ribbon as they tend to fray in the water, though wax coated cored can be useful for some things.


    •My knots come undone when I use fishing line. How do I get them to stay put?
    You need to tighten each knot with two pairs of pliers, one for each end of the line. If you tie multiple knots, which I would recommend, tighten each single knot with the pliers as you go. For extra security, you can put a little dab of super glue on the knot. 2-3 simple cross-under-pull knots should do it.


    •What paint do I use to paint shells?

    For shells, acrylic paint works great. Usually a few layers are needed to get a good solid color, especially for lighter colors. For pearlized paint that's translucent you need a lot more than normal paint as well, so keep that in mind when picking colors. Hand brushing is the paint is fine. If you really wanna seal that paint on there for good, a layer of craft epoxy resin will do that, but it's not necessary.


    •What hair clips do I use?
    You can use whatever style of hair clips you like! There are many to chose from, available in craft stores. However the most often used is spring loaded barrettes.



    They will stay securely in your hair if you follow the tip in this tutorial by Raven:


    They're useful because they have a wider base in which you can glue things on. You can also create a base and attach it onto the clip, allowing for even more room.


    •What findings can I use to attach seaweed and other things that don't have holes?
    What you need is a finding called crimp ends. They look like these-





    You put what you need to in to the end then crimp them closed with pliers. You can then attach it with a jump ring.


    Can I use real starfish for my accessories? Can I seal it?
    You can, but they're not good for water wear. When they get wet they'll either crumble, disintegrate, or start to rot (and smell as such). You can attempt to seal it to keep this from happening, but there's no guarantee it will work. If you want to try and seal starfish, my best suggestion would be to use craft epoxy resin. It's best to use faux starfish if possible.
    If you want waterproof starfish, you can get real starfish and make a mold from it, then cast it in resin. Or if it's small enough, use the mold as a push-mold for polymer clay. That way you have realistic looking starfish that are completely waterproof!


    •How do I drill holes in shells?

    You need a power tool- either a power drill, or a dremel. You need to take caution when drilling seashells. Seashell dust should not be inhaled, as the particles are very sharp and can do damage to your lungs. Abalone shell dust is toxic. Both can cause lung disease. You need to either use a respirator capable of filtering out these tiny particles, such as a P100 or n95 respirator, or drill the shell while it's underwater so the water will catch all the dust. I actually recommend both, if possible. Remember to wear protective gear for your eyes as well!

    To drill the shell underwater, make sure the shell is completely submerged, but ONLY submerge the tip of the bit. I recommend a plastic dish, so if you drill into the bowl you won't drill through the bowl and break (glass) or put a hole (wood) into it. Be sure to rinse the shell after you've drilled it, before using.


    •I don't have the tools to drill holes in shells.. is the another way to attach them to jewelry?
    With certain findings, you can glue the shell to the finding then have a way to attach it to your jewelry. You want a Glue-on Flat Pad finding or a Aanraku Bail finding. They look like this, but come in all shapes an sizes.




    You can also use bail glue fold-over findings such as this:


    Be sure to use clamps when gluing to make sure the bails glue strong in the proper place.


    •I broke a shell and I want to fix it. What glue works?

    Two part epoxy is the only glue I've found to work for this (and I've tried lots).


    •What glue do I use?

    That depends on what you're gluing!
    E6000 is advised for a general all purpose waterproof glue. It's industrial strength, has flexibility when cured, and can be used on a variety of materials. Be SURE to READ THE WARNINGS AND INSTRUCTIONS as some of these glues are very toxic when they're not cured, or under certain conditions. For glues like E6000 that are hazardous when not cured, I highly and strongly recommend you always use gloves when working with it. Popsicle sticks are great for spreading it around, as it's very sticky and goopy when wet.YOU CAN GET POISONING FROM E6000 EXPOSURE ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES AND WORK IN A WELL VENTILATED SPACE, WEAR A RESPIRATOR IF POSSIBLE.

    For heavy duty stuff like gluing shells to a bra or shells to hair clips, I advise Gorilla Glue. However, since it dries yellow it can't always be used, but it's on the back side it's no issue. Superglue for small things- like putting pearls or gem embellishments on shells, or securing a knot. As it's handy but is brittle, and can be unreliable if you use more than a tiny amount. Epoxy is great for shell on shell or shell on glass. JB Weld for metal on metal-it can be used to secure jump links or other such on jewelry.

    Hot glue is easy and dries fast, but it's not recommended for things that are submerged underwater repeatedly. It peels of and breaks down. I would advise to avoid using it if you can. You can use it for minimal stuff, or stuff that you absolutely have to have a large glob of glue that will dry in a minute or so. The best use I have for it is to glue several pieces of faux seaweed together before using another glue to secure it to something else.

    I've used all the glues mentioned in my entire post on 1 hair clip before. My best tip for gluing is use the glue that's best for the job. If that means multi glued accessories, then do it! It will be worth it to have a quality accessory that will last a long time.


    •How do I glue something so it bonds properly?

    1) Read the instructions! Seriously, there's stuff you need to know on there. Like did you know gorilla glue's cure is water activated? If you glue without water it won't do much good! So read the instructions
    2) Clean the surface well and get rid of any oils. I use rubbing alcohol, but others suggest acetone as rubbing alcohol can leave a residue that can cause issues with some glues.
    3) Rough up the sides of what you're gluing together if you can- simple sandpaper is good for this. If you have an x acto knife or something similar you can score the surfaces with a cross hatch pattern.
    4) CLAMP IT. #4 is the most overlooked, but by far the thing that will help your glue bonds be the strongest that they can. Little clamps are $0.67 each at Home Depot- seriously worth it. Using the right glue and clamping means sometimes you have to wait a day or night before you can continue to making your piece. To me the piece lasting a long time is worth it, VS using hot glue or some such and having it come apart a few months down the line.


    •My Velcro isn't holding up underwater. What can I do?
    Truth is, run-of-the-mill velcro isn't known to hold up in water very well. I personally haven't seen it really work on any mer accessories I've seen it used on. However, there's hope! The trick is that you need to use Industrial Strength Velcro! They sell this at hardware stores in long strips or spools. It looks like this, with the two sides velcro'd together and the sticky adhesive facing outwards. I've seen this stuff hold up a flat screen TV on the wall of a sea-going boat. It stays put!


    •What do I use for a base to make a top?
    Anything you want, really! The best are a bra or a swim top. Some use strapless bras, some buy regular bras and either decorate the straps. or cut them off and sew on netting or fabric in their place. If you use a regular bra, it's highly recommended that you get a bra that is mostly or all nylon and spandex. Otherwise you may run into the issue of the fabric over-stretching when it becomes wet, or sagging.
    No-strap self adhesive bras are also popular- just be aware that the adhesive will eventually lose it's stickiness and you will either have to add straps or discard the top. However if you buy one that's of decent quality (not from Target or Walmart, go for NuBra brand if you can afford it) and follow the care instructions and it can last for quite a while.


    •How do I sew netting on something?
    You can sew by hand or by machine. I recommend a strong upholstery or nylon thread. If you use a machine, you can either use the button hole function to sew a loop around on of the crossings of the netting, or you can sew straight across. If you do sew straight across, you will need a heavy duty needle on your sewing machine. Take it easy, go slow. If it gets caught sometimes you can lower the needle and raise it and it will unstick, other times you have to take it out manually. You can still break the needle, so be aware. Don't forget to lock the thread by backstitching at the beginning and end.


    •I want to sew embellishments onto something, but I don't want the thread to be seen!
    If you want to sew on something, but fishing line or closely matching thread isn't enough of an aesthetically pleasing option, use Transparent Nylon thread. It's essentially a small, strong, clear plastic thread. Just be aware that it can be a little harder to work with since it can snag on things like seaweed and netting while you're working, and it's harder to see.


    •How do I get earrings with hook findings to stay on while swimming?
    You can keep hook earrings on with no problem with some simple rubber earring backings! They come in packs with a large amount, and are cheap! They're also clear, so they're not noticeable when you're wearing them. If you want it to be extra secure, you can wear two backings for each earring. You can find them at craft stores like Michaels and JoAnns, or online.




    •Where can I find the pretty shell shaped sequins?
    Those tiny sequins that you see everywhere are sequins made by a company called Cartwright. You can find them on Carwright's website in different sizes and many different colors. For the large 48mm sequins, please see the thread on Vector Enterprise's shell sequins. Keep in mind that you can sew sequins on with a sewing machine. You can use the button hole function to make quick work of them. For the large 48mm sequins, you can sew a straight stitch right across the top with no damage to the sequin.


    •Where can I find the pretty pearl strands with pearls that seem to hang in the air?
    Those strands come from Pearl Garlands that have been detangled and/or cut. These are sold at some craft stores and online. Michaels use to sell them in their wedding section, but may be discontinued- you will have to check your local store for availability since not all Michaels carry all the same items. Hobby Lobby also carries them in white and black, and sometimes other colors. These can also be found in some online craft supply stores.
    Be aware that some pearl garlands are not as high-quality as others, and can shed pearls when they become wet due to low quality glue. This is not environmentally friendly, so be sure to do testing before you attach them to any accessories!


    •I'm not near a craft store, but I want netting/shells/plants. What can I do?

    Shop online! Hobby Lobby actually sells nearly all of their stock online. Etsy also has a whole search function just for crafting supplies, and eBay carries a lot of great items including a lot of shell suppliers that sell there!
    Attached Images Attached Images          
    Last edited by Winged Mermaid; 01-19-2014 at 09:59 PM. Reason: added information

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  2. #2
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    Amazing job!

  3. #3
    If you guys have other questions feel free to post I'd love to add to this so it will be more helpful to people!

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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  4. #4
    I don't mean to hijack your thread or anything, but I do have some pictures I took at Michael's about a year ago of the stuff they have to offer (at all the ones around here in central Florida their little ocean section looks exactly the same, but it probably looks different all around the country?).
    Mostly it's good reference for pricing I think.
    https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-p...o/DSCN0638.JPG

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-0...o/DSCN0639.JPG

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-8...o/DSCN0640.JPG

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-F...o/DSCN0641.JPG (you can see on the bottoms of each of these bags are the lion's paws most people use for tops)

    https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-C...o/DSCN0642.JPG

  5. #5
    Senior Member North Pacific Pod Miyu's Avatar
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    I hear a lot of people who are unable to buy fishing net, or who maybe want it in a different colour/gauge. I myself have the supplies I need to make it myself, and would rather spend what little mer-funds I have on something else.

    So, I found these two videos to be very helpful. You can make different knots (I think the most common is a square knot, but I've also seen an overhand knot used), make the space between strings smaller or bigger, and you can use all sorts of things like yarn, cord, etc. to make them. I plan to make my own net for a top and possibly a belt as well.




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    Love this tread!!! Can it be a sticky please?



  7. #7

    ★ The Accessory Making FAQ ★

    It already is a sticky

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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  8. #8
    Senior Member Euro Pod SeaNymph's Avatar
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    How can I make a headdress or what can I use as base for it?
    From Africa: A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor. It´s the rough times that make what you are!

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    Senior Member Pod of Texas Seatan's Avatar
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    What kind of headdress? One with embellishments just on the side, one with major weight on the top of the head, etc? There are a ton of different headresses and they all have different support requirements. Paper wrapped floral tape is great for floral headresses and headresses embellished only near the ears. Heavier bases such as headbands are needed for larger headresses. Can you be more specific?
    Once upon a time I was known as Seavanna. Going by Seatan these days. I always wanted to be the high lord of underwater hell.

  10. #10
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    I always use headbands as a base, and just go from there pretty easy way for making your first ones.

  11. #11
    I just want to start off saying that Raven is the original designer of that particular style of mermaid head dress, and I respect her for that. So when I wanted to make one for myself I did ask for her permission She said it was fine for me to make them for myself for my personal use, but she wasn't okay with anyone selling that design. I hope others will respect that as well! I see some people sell them and honestly it gets under my skin, but maybe that's just me.
    (I asked her if it was okay before I made my first shell top too, since she was the first one to use netting as straps and faux sea weed between the shells and bra. She's an innovator for a lot of our type of fashion that's for sure! ^_^)

    Anyhow, that being said, that type of head dress is made by having two hair clips on either side that hold the main bulk of it, and the things that go over the head are attached to the hairclips.

    I did make one, and it turned out very well! I want to make more, I just have to hold myself back from going crazy since I can't sell them if I go overboard, haha! This is the one I'm wearing in my current avatar

    Name:  1477448_601695286568690_1612693924_n.jpg
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    Edit: If you use Raven's tutorial listed in the FAQ for keeping hair clips in place it WILL stay put!
    Last edited by Winged Mermaid; 01-17-2014 at 09:08 PM.

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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  12. #12
    Also I hope if you make one you'll post photos Nixe Daniela! Your work is always beautiful!

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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  13. #13
    Added information on where to find large abalone shells, how to make abalone shells strong and shiny, where to find shell sequins, how to get hook earrings to stay on while swimming, where to find the pearl strands that I use, what kind of velcro holds up in the water, and where to find invisible thread.

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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  14. #14
    Senior Member Euro Pod SeaNymph's Avatar
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    Thank you very much for your information, Iona!!! I have decided to discribe better what I want to create: a headdress with things hanging down at both sides at the head (like the merbella mermaids) but with complete own design and style. I am an artist myself and I do want to get credit for my own designs and ideas, I always have and I do not have any intention / wish / need to go into selling. I´m sorry to read that people really sell things they have copied from others, in my opinion this has nothing to do with real art. Aquatic performance is all that concerns me and use my creativity only for myself. I just wanted to look for some information about accessoire-stability at the head, because I am a "keen" underwater performer and I would like all things that I hopefully want to create to stay put at my head / hair. The problem with normal hairclips is that I have to re-do it five times per show (because my hair is very smooth) and that really was frustrating.
    Thank you for your nice words about my work, since I don´t have much time at the moment, my future "headdress" will take a little while, but in the meantime I could send you a picture of a mermaid crown I made one year ago (as soon as I have found out how to post pictures )
    From Africa: A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor. It´s the rough times that make what you are!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Euro Pod SeaNymph's Avatar
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    Okay, got it. Here´s my selfmade mermaid crown which I used to wear at my "Atlantis" themed photoshooting:

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    From Africa: A calm sea does not make a skilled sailor. It´s the rough times that make what you are!

  16. #16
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    Wow

    Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk

  17. #17
    Senior Member Pod of Texas Naufra's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if tiger tail holds up well in water? I would think it would considering its' construction, but has anyone tried it?
    User formerly known as "Zicoxite".


  18. #18
    Has anyone taken a push up bra that's made to make your girls look bigger to make a top out of? I have an old one I'd like to use but I'm worried about how swimming in it will be because of the extra foam it has.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Pod of Texas Naufra's Avatar
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    I can all but guarantee you that it would take forever to dry, Coyote. I used one for a dry-wear costume, but I don't think it would be practical for swimming. Have you considered picking up some non-foam push-up padding and building it into a swimsuit top?
    User formerly known as "Zicoxite".


  20. #20
    I've used push up bras for my tops and they were fine. It's mostly about picking material that will do well in the water and dry fast out of - which is why I've only found one brand that is strapless, nude, right fabric, and other stuff. They were regular ones though, not the "Bombshell" ones that make you 1-2 cup sizes bigger.

    Wingéd Mermaid Iona

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