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Thread: A Journey in Making a Sequin Tail

  1. #1

    A Journey in Making a Sequin Tail

    Figured I oughta start posting since I have a ton of photos I've been sharing to my pod on Facebook!

    I have a habit of setting steep learning curves as an artist when it comes to making anything new. This tail project isn't all that different, save for the whole, you know, water and swimming bit Like with any project I endeavor to undertake, I do a ton of research both online, and in local material before initiating any plans to make sure that it meets my priorities of safety, comfort, and function.

    That said, let's begin! Pardon the graininess of the photos - they are mostly by the phone at night.

    I knew I would need to be cautious in picking my material for my monofin, since I can't afford the commercial ones, and only have the finis copycat from the Delfina tail I purchased a few months prior to reference off of. After picking the brains of both engineer friends, and the poor confused folks at Home Depot and Lowes, I discovered the neat material by the name of Plas-tex. After some more digging, I learned it meets the material criteria of the core I needed. Problem was it's a beast to handle a 1/8" thick sheet of 4'x8' sheet all the way home and up two flights of stairs into a cramped apartment shared by a roommate, two cats, two sugar gliders, and four budgies. I'm a stubborn butt, and found a way to make it work-
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    The Delfina tail is placed there as a form of visual reference to the sheer bulk of the sheet.

    From there, it was down to prototyping, prototyping, and MORE prototyping to make sure I'm making a very durable fin for my needs.
    And where to start? By making a basic fin design!

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    I had cut the template out of foam core for durability should I end up utilizing this design for a possible commissionable style.

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    Two layers of Plas-tex sheared with some heavy duty scissors, as one layer was too flexible for what I was aiming for. I like going fast!

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    All covered in duct tape, since I was just aiming to test the Plas-tex itself. The foot pocket was an interesting process, as I'd never made duct tape fabric before. Kinda fun!
    The tail fin did work really well, and was comparable to the Delfina fin in performance, if a little bit more flexible with the sliding layers. I don't have a video of it right now in action, but hopefully soon I can give it another spin with my stepmom recording!

    From there it was on to the real pursuit of making Sea Drake come to life!
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    I designed the tail based on the available sequin colors from -
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    Pics of the sequins laid over the black spandex fabric I'll be using.
    I had done some research on how to get these guys properly secured, and after looking at several methods, came up with a hypothesis of my own -

    Instead of zig-zag stitching through them, or risking the health of myself and the animals I'm responsible for by glueing them on, I'll instead punch two extra holes in a triangle fashion on the large sequins, and an extra on the smaller ones, and sew with doubled thread to secure similar to how the Mythic Scales are set up from Fin Folks.
    The sequin on the far left is a really difficult one to capture, as it color shifts from lavendar, to green to orange.

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    A couple work weeks later saw my template finally prepped to use. I plan on sewing in the foam rays here between spandex layers to give my fins form, texture, and a little rigidity so they're more likely to stand like a true fin. This is also to give me a guide for when I sew on the sequins later.

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    Some big learning curves here. First, the fin rays look awesome, but are actually impractical in working theory for the skin to go over it all.

    That... and vinyl has its own issues as a cover material. It all seemed to work in my head, but... When you have an employee fold the material instead of rolling, it causes creases nearly impossible to remove. The hi temp glue works wonders for a durable seal, but adds a quarter inch to the bulk and made some details nearly impossible to work in the final form. The other peeve is that the shavings from drilling the holes gets trapped in the middle. So, this prototype will be mainly for testing the security of the foot pocket! I originally aimed for an open toe concept, until I learned that heeeeyyyy... that closed toe actually helps LIFT the darned fin! Ah-doi! It's one of my peeves with the Delfina fin - the spandex cover isn't all that snug, my big American stompers can't fit into tiny Finnish teen foot pockets, and my toes are very visible when I try to lift the tail. I had to cobble a security strap to keep it on my feet and reduce the toe-bump.

    The final draft I'll just chop off the rays so the fin becomes closer in form to that of a trout. The fun foam inside the skin flaps will hopefully keep it rigid enough to hide the edges of the fin while in motion.

    ... I'll also use nylon fabric to make the fin cover... No more vinyl...

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    This was the most exciting part - actually seeing it starting to come together after almost a month of just being foam parts and templates, and a box of HEAVY spandex!
    This is where another research theory is taking action. I read and watched single layer spandex become almost translucent. That was a yick factor for me, so I scratched my brain and came up with a two-layer method to reduce visibility. I know it's going to all be hidden behind the sequins, but it's also to provide comfort and security with the sewing process of the sequins. No black kitty debuting here this time!

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    Apologies for the crazy blur on this one. Roommate snapped this on my phone without knowing how to use it as I was fit-testing the basting.

    For the first time doing a major piece, and trying this basting technique - I'm thrilled at how close fitting I came. However, it fits like a pair of snug office pants, and it needs to fit like a pair of tights. So, I figure adding another quarter inch to the seams will help. I'll also extend the sleeve down another two inches for the velcro attachment between skin and monofin cover. May also shave off the calf-area too, since that fit the loosest with my slightly bowed legs from a youth of horseback riding.

    Next stage - sewing the fins to add to the skin for assembly!

  2. #2
    Senior Member North Pacific Pod Mermaid Kane's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Oregon, PDX Area
    :OO this is so cool so far!

  3. #3
    I’m obsessed with the rays on the fluke, they’re beautiful.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Twilight darkens, yet there in the shade,
    Lies a glimmering shadow, the wild mermaid;

    As night draws ever closer, there's a choice to be made--
    Will you stay as you are, or be delivered to the waves?

    Laumina the Storm Siren

    Instagram: mermaidwhisperofficial | Facebook: Mermaid Whisper | YouTube: Mermaid Whisper

  4. #4
    I’m so following this so I can get some ideas

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  5. #5
    Junior Member Mermaid Arietta's Avatar
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    Jun 2017
    Bountiful, UT
    This looks awesome!!

    Sent from my LG-H830 using MerNetwork mobile app

  6. #6
    Thanks! I've been slowly poking away at the fins to go on the body, and I'll take a pic soon when I get this current one prepped.

  7. #7
    Five down, eight more to go... Three of them are the large fins. The sequins will hopefully mask the squared corners, and the wiggly appearance is from the fun foam rays inside that I traced with transparent thread for guides on the sequin layout.

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    Can't tell you how many times my fingers snagged on those cursed pins, or the thread caught on the fins/clips >_<

  8. #8
    Definately following this I'm making a sequin tail too!

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaidmew View Post
    Definately following this I'm making a sequin tail too!
    Awesome! This is my first tail aside from the Delfina I have, so it's a lot of learning curves happening simultaneously watching it come together!

  10. #10
    I can’t wait to see the finished product!!

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  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mermaid Tami View Post
    I can’t wait to see the finished product!!
    Neither can I! I'm a little stalled at the moment in trying to make christmas gifts in time, though I may end up being a little late this year -_-;

  12. #12
    I love your design! I'm looking forward seeing the progress. <3

    Sent from my LG-M153 using MerNetwork mobile app

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Hadrea_Narwhal View Post
    I love your design! I'm looking forward seeing the progress. <3

    It's been really fun working on it so far! I've had to put a peg on its progress to crank out christmas gifts for the moment. I'll put up a pic below of a couple teasers for one of the types of gifts, both in finished form, and in-progress form. Already planning out the next tail (Tide Weaver), and a possible third that'll be an experiment in painting and sealing sequins, as well as to how to go about possible test commissions for a tail. All in good time though!

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    Yes, each of those scales were hand colored, cut, and placed, and the words are all free hand written. Have at least seven more to make.... >_<

  14. #14
    The detail is so intricate! You can tell there was tons of love out into each one.

    Sent from my LG-M153 using MerNetwork mobile app

  15. #15
    They're really meditative to work on too, especially with a movie or music playing in the background. I've only made one other sculpture of a similar nature to these guys. Need to wait for warmer weather to seal it properly for final photographing.

  16. #16
    This looks awesome! I cant wait to see more

  17. #17
    Member Pod of Cali Folly's Avatar
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    Jul 2015
    Southern California
    Wow. This is going to be stunning you're done.
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    Even as it is written, "She had her dwelling in the great sea -- and was a fish therein."
    Xena: Warrior Princess
    Ep. 3.12 The Bittersuite

  18. #18
    Looks awesome!

    Sent from my [device_name] using MerNetwork mobile app

  19. #19
    Aww thanks! I'm kind debating opening a test commission after Sea Drake is done, or wait until Tide Weaver is also done to do a challenge range. Had to order some more sequins even though I'm only partway through one side of pinning up sequins for my pelt board.

    I'm not dead at least! Christmas was just rather nutty, as it usually is.

    Some progress shots showing the scales coming together -
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    Still kinda on the fence about the patch color ratios. The board has already served its function in showing that I had needed to adjust one color to prevent clashing.

    Doesn't help I just want to stop now and then and just pet the scales >3> Sorry for the low light, but I tend to work at night in low lighting.

    It does beautifully show off the colors of the lavender scales, as they are actually prismatic - just hard to photograph right:
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Mermaid_Mari's Avatar
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    Jul 2017

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    Woah the scales look so pretty!!

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    @MaritzaMermaid on Instagram


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