Whoopsie daisy, I haven't been on in forever! Long time no sea y'all!

I've been a busy little guppy going to art school and all that, so little time to work on being a mermaid. I've been wanting to make a tail but could never really justify it considering lack of practice and space and money...

but now I have justification...

I've got a project called "multiples" and you know what is very multiple? Scales
So, like, now I'm getting into how this thread is relevant to tailmaking.

I'm gonna make a tail for this project...assuming I can work out the logistics...(that's where you guys can help hopefully)
So wearability and proper functionality would be nice, but I gotta stay in budget and I've got say roughly a month...so I'll take what I can get

Now part of this will require us to incorporate at least one of three processes into our project: printing (as in using a press), laser cutting, and/or mold making.

I'm leaning towards mold making maybe?
Silicone is way too crazy expensive plus a terrible idea for a first tail and a project to be using silicone the first time on
So I'm thinking maybe latex is a good way to go...but not even fully latex technically! I think it would be possible to cut out fabric scale bases that I can set into a mold and more coat with latex and use a mold to impart texture!
Because I like the idea of trying casting to make scales....

but also as I type this I have another idea which would be to print scale patterns onto a fabric which I can cut down into scales...but then there's a problem with ink and finding something that I know would be body and I guess water safe...also finding a way to seal the fabric...

I could also look for something which I can feed through (or engrave?) on the laser cutter...

I guess it's not top priority that the tail be perfectly water durable, but just enough that if I want to give it a quick dunk or splash it will survive. I suppose I'd like to be able to wear it but if I can't well...gotta get my work done

I'm also, like, really into this idea of making an individual scale tail...It's a dream really...

Really I only have a vague idea of how to go about this...I mean I've done a ton of research on other tail making methods and I'm gonna go back over those...but also I like to try my own things sometimes and that tends to have mixed results...

SO thoughts?
Any better solutions/ideas I may have overlooked? Or just worth looking into?
Ideas on how to be cost-effective? Or which route here would be the most cost-effective? I'm looking for "cheap" but still safe.
Things to be wary of in my first tailmaking adventure, rookie mistakes and the like?

And I will update this thread as my shenanigans ensue. One way or another a tail is probably going to be made no matter how convoluted I have to get.
Gonna try to hit up this retail fabric store (jomars) I've heard good things about, supposedly couple bucks a yard, sounds worth a trip. Gonna look for power mesh/swimsuit lining...

any other fabrics I should look out for maybe?

Thanks for hearing me out fishies...please pray for me and my terrible ideas.

ps..any phillymers? maybe willing to help a baby mer out?