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Thread: Silicone Mermaid Tail Turtorial

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    Silicone Mermaid Tail Turtorial

    So I found this tutorial I made awhile ago on my computer and wanted to share it for the people who still don't understand the process or wanted to make a silicone mermaid tail. Sorry for the spelling errors. Here it is:

    Making a Silicone Mermaid Tail-

    Silicone- 1 gallon: about $200
    Molding Materials- $100- $200
    Monofin- $50- $200
    Scale Sheet Mold + Mold Box- $100- $250
    Clay- $50- $100
    Paint- $25- $50
    Extra- $50- $100
    Airbrush (OPTIONAL)- $0- $200

    About: $575 - $1,300

    If you decide to try and make a tail, please be careful. We are NOT responsible for any injuries. Now it's time for the fun!!

    1) Design- When making a mermaid tail I start with a design, and get an idea on what I want my tail to look like. I just draw up my fluke shape and my colors and there it is! I follow through my design the whole time so I know exactly what I want. Tail Design Game- This game is a very good way to test out different colors and shapes and see what looks best. When I paint, I make sure the color is exactly how I want it before I apply it (we will go into more detail about painting later)
    Here is the original design for my tail.
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    2a) Choosing a monofin and making patterns- Once I have my design, I determine how large my fluke is going to be so it's easier when choosing a monofin. Here is a guide to lots of monofins out there-
    If you want a very floppy fluke, then choose a smaller monofin like a shooter or a finis foil. Competitor monofins are generally a good option because of there great propulsion. They do get expensive though. For this tail I used a finis wave-
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    Once I have a monofin I make a pattern of my body. You can get a roll of pattern paper from a nearby fabric/craft store, Joanne's or Michaels. Or you can just tape together poster board with masking tape. I usually do this since poster board is sturdier. I take my measurements of Around: Waist, hips, knees, calves, ankles / From: Belly button to floor, belly button to hips, hips to knees, knees to calves, calves to ankles. I could also lay down, but since I will eventually be doing this for customers, I decided doing it how I would do it for them. After that I divide the AROUND measurements in 1/4 and fold the poster-board in half. From the middle crease I draw lines of the 1/4 measurements. (When I open the pattern up later, it will represent half of the around measurements and ONE side of the body. I create 2 scales sheets of the half body side and eventually seam those together). I also use the FROM measurements to determine how far apart each around measurement will be from each other. In the end I make sure it fits the overall BELLYBUTTON TO FLOOR measurement. Then I basically connect the dots and have my pattern!
    Also, add a few extra inches on each side of the body so you can seam. At the bottom create a shape the will be used as scales to overlap over the fluke. I make sure it's symmetrical. Once the outline is completed I cut out the shape, fold it open, and have the pattern.

    2b) (OPTIONAL) Making a dummy-
    a. Duct tape. This is a very simple and cheap method.
    Materials- Saran wrap (plastic wrap), 3-4 rolls of duct tape, scissors, a helper, stuffing (newspaper, foam)
    stand up straight and hold you legs in a comfortable position. Make sure legs are close together (not spread apart) like they would be in a mermaid tail. Have your helper wrap saran wrap around your legs. Belly button to ankle. Then simply have your helper wrap 2-4 layers of duct tape around your legs. Make sure they work fast since your legs will need to breath. Once they are done, take scissors and cut a long strip down your back. Once the form is off, reconnect the long cut with more duct tape. Stuff it with stuffing, newspaper, or whatever works for you.
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    b. Fiberglass Body cast. Another cheap and simple method but will take more time.
    Materials- 3 rolls of long plaster wrap (Michaels), petroleum jelly, scissors, water, helper, Fiberglass resin and mat (HOME DEPOT, LOWES)
    Make sure you wear bathing suit bottoms or underwear. Precut strips of plaster that will wrap around one half of your legs (Belly button to ankle) Measure on yourself if you would like. Use one roll. Make sure you will be able to make 2-3 layers. Stand up with your legs together. Draw a line ( w/ washable marker) on the halfway point of your legs on both sides. Cover your legs with vaseline. Carefully have your helper apply the strips in water and put them on your legs. Keep on doing this until the whole front of your legs is covered. *Make sure you follow the line. Do a second layer. Then begin on the back half of the legs. Leave a small line in between the front and back cast so you aren't stuck forever! xD Wait about 30 minutes for the plaster to dry. Watch tv if it helps to make you less bored. Carefully remove the molds. Apply release into both mold halves ( VASELINE OR FIBERGLASS RELEASES) Precut the fiberglass mat. With gloves! Coat the mold in a thin layer of resin. Then place your strips of fiberglass mat on top, soaking the whole thing. Continue adding layers like this. Wait for the fiberglass to dry. Demold the halves carefully and seam them together with more fiberglass. Here is a detailed precess of a full body cast, but you would only need to do your legs -
    c. You can also use alginate and many other materials, but they can get expensive. Be creative and find the best way for you!

    3) Sculpting your fluke and Clay Guide
    First of all, trace your monofin on tracing paper. Draw a line in the middle. Use masking tape to connect 2 pieces of poster-board. Fold them in half. Place your paper monofin shape on the folded posterboard. Make sure the line in the middle is the edge of the folded crease. Draw half your fluke based on where your fluke shape will be on your monofin. Cut it out. When you open the fold you will have a symmetrical fluke. Here is a good video- Your fluke must be symmetrical! Later on you combine 2 fluke halves so you must make it even or it will come out like this-
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    Not Symmetrical

    Once you have your fluke shape pattern, trace it on wood or cardboard or paper. You should trace your monofin shape too so you know where it is. You are now ready to sculpt. Here are clays that can be used to sculpt over your design.
    Here is a guide to picking your clay (IT MUST BE SULFUR FREE!)-
    a.Monster clay- This has been a popular choice. It is kind of expensive but will work very well for silicone mermaid tails. Only about 10 pounds are needed. Here are the pros and cons:
    Pros- It melts to liquid (you can melt it in the microwave: 6 minutes for the whole tub to become liquid), it's easy to pour over a large surface, it can get really soft and easy to work with when melted, it doesn't stick to your skin, can be re-used over and over
    Cons- It's not easy to get a very smooth finish, it's very hard when not melted
    How to smooth the clay- The easiest way to smooth it is by melting it with a blow dryer. Using a bad spoon you can smooth it out. A rolling pin works very well also. The best way is the to use the the blowdryer and a paint scraper/ razor in which you can find at home depot. Mineral spirits (a paint thinner found at home depot) works very well for smoothing it as well. Make sure you apply alcohol after using the mineral spirits.

    b. Sculptex, Van Aken's Klean Klay alternative- These are both Klean Klay alternatives! They are very soft sulfur free modeling clays that are easy as pie to smooth and add detail to.
    Pros- Soft, smooth easily, easy to work with, never drys
    Cons- Detail can be easily ruined if stepped on or pressed too hard, difficult to spread over large surface, somewhat sticky
    This clay is pretty good and fine detail can easily be added. You can smooth it with your fingers or different tools.

    d. Le Beau Touche Regular - Adhesive clay that smooths well and carves easily. It's sulfur free and comes in regular and HM. The HM version is only needed for warmer climates and is a little tackier. The regular is really nice since it simply softens from slight heat variations like the friction from rubbing your hands!
    Pros- easy to smooth and work with, has great adhesion qualities, can become softer from heat
    Cons- sticky when warmed, HM is firmer at room temperature.
    All these clay should be handled with a clay tool set you can get at a local craft store. All should work pretty well, and many more out there should work well also. Chavant NSP is a good clay and I'm interested in trying the new soft Clayette by Chavant.

    4) Optional- Mold boxes and Mold walls- The main reason to have a mold box or mold wall is so your material that will be molding from doesn't run everywhere. For example: Shellshock is a pretty runny liquid plastic, and it will just quickly move across your floors if a mold wall isn't there to stop it. The wall is basically like a dam. You will most likely need a mold box for molding your fluke and scales. There are several different ways to go about making one.

    1)Wood has been a popular option but lots of mold materials get stuck to the wood and you will most likely need to break your mold box in order to reach your mold. You risk breaking the mold as well. If you want to you wood, I would recommend laying clay on the wood to make your life easier. Add this point it would be easier just to build a clay wall. I'm no builder, I'm only 13. But I did make a wood box and it worked fine for me but you never know what may happen! All I can say is that it is VERY important to apply release on the wood.
    2) Cardboard- This is a great option if you need something simple and easy, and FREE! All you have to do is walk into BJ's, Home depot, or wherever to get a box! I've used cardboard before and everything came out fine, my only suggestion is to apply some kind of release agent (vaseline) on the box. This is something you should probably do with wood as well, it will probably help to make sure your mold doesn't stick. If the bottom of the cardboard is NOT completely flat or has flabs cut them off or apply your scales on top of a different material which will then be place is your mold box. You can tape craft foam, poster board, or anything flat so that you can place your scales on. You flip it over to the side not taped if that makes things easier.
    3) Clay wall- If you have a table that is available to work on and get ruined then great! If not you can do the craft foam/ poster board method or anything that is flat and suit. Apply your scales on this material. Once your scales are down, measure 2-4 inches out and start making a wall out of clay. Literally a clay wall!
    It's as simple as that. If you want to smooth the clay on the inside, then it will probably be better for clean mold. If your clay is reusable, then I would recommend making your fluke mold first, then using the clay from sculpting that. You can also back the clay with cardboard if needed. Clay is also my favorite option for a fluke mold.
    4) There are many other materials you can use but these are just a few ideas. Be creative if you need to.

    My recommendations for mold walls-


    CLAY for FLUKE

    5a) Scale model- The next step is creating the scale model in which you will eventually make a mold of and then cast in silicone. Generally this is just a long sheet of scales (a little larger then your body size) in which you will make two castings of that will be designed to fit your body using your pattern or dummy. Realistic scales on fish are usually not all the same size so its up to you if you want to go that route, or make them all the same diameter. First of all, you will need a flat surface to work on, you can choose to build a mold box or use a cardboard, or later on make a mold wall. If you choose to use a cardboard or wooden box then your scales will placed there. If you chose to make a mold wall out of clay you can find a flat surface to work on. You can also just place your scales on pieces of craft foam taped together, poster board, or a piece of cardboard. Now that you have your mold box, we can start going over your materials. (Clay wall is made after materials are down so you don't need a mold box at the moment, just a flat surface). But first let's go over some dimensions. (FUN!) With these materials you will make a long sheet of scales. The scales should be at least 5 inches longer of the length from your belly button to your ankles. *Depending on how much you want your scales to cover your fluke is how much longer you should make the scales. As for width, you can make one big scale sheet that will wrap around your whole body (A few inches longer then the measurements around your largest girth from your belly button to your ankle. This will most likely be your butt/hips.) If you want to make ONE scale sheet then a dummy is required. You can also make 2 castings of scales sheets in which your Scale Mold ( That will be shaped in a rectangle ) will be the widest part on your pattern then a few extra inches added to use for overlapping the seams. Once again it will be shaped in a rectangle when the scales are layed out so make sure it's your widest part throughout the whole mold. Finally we can talk about what these scales will ACTUALLY be made from!!!
    5b) Materials- There are many, many ways so can go about making scales! You can spend hours sculpting a clay sheet to perfection, or just glue many circular objects together! Here we go-
    1) Foam circles- There are 2 ways to do this. 1:You can buy precut foam circles in which you can glue with E-6000 or you can just buy the adhesive circles (This will probably be a little more expensive but I think it is worth it) or…. 2: You can punch out your own foam circles with a paper cutter or and circular blade, then glue them all down with e-6000 or (more simply) punch out adhesive backs. Adhesive backs are easier for most people since they already basically have the glue on them. If you punch out your own circles will need to adjust the cutter (Fiskars is used by most) since the slot isn't big enough for 2mm craft foam. Here are some links for great videos to show how you adjust your punch-, You also want to make sure your foam is always 2mm or more, since 1mm foam won't achieve much of a rising scale effect. For ordering 1 1/2" diameter foam circles you will most likely need 15- 20 packs depending on how tall you are. I only used 12 packs, but I'm 4"10. You can also get 1" diameter or 1/2" diameter scales. 1" diameter is the preferable size. Now that you have your scales, line them up in a scale pattern in your measurements. You should draw a straight, long guide line on the measurement of your height (with the extra inches added) to make sure you know where to start for your next row, and so the scales are the correct length and you know where to stop. Since craft foam is porous, you should seal the scales with acrylic spray, then apply the correct release agent.

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    Photo by: Disfusional Mermaid

    2) Sculpting scales- You can also sculpt scales with sulphur free clay (look back to my clay guide from earlier) Using different tools to smooth and size the clay, this is the best way to really achieve your design. It will take a lot of work though. Kanti has a great video on her sculpting scales. You can you use the tool she used (xacto knife). You can also probably roll the clay with a rolling pin, use a cookie cutter circle to get the right shape, then just line them all up! It's really up to you and how you want to sculpt your clay.
    3) These are just 2 options but people have tried sooo many other things, and you can too! Pumpkin seeds (I don't recommend these because of undercuts), guitar picks, sequins, just be creative!
    5c) Undercuts- With whatever material you use, make sure there are no little holes. If there are, the molding material can get into those holes and get underneath your scales. Remove these before casting silicone or latex, if you don't, the little pieces will be stuck in your silicone or under your scales. The ones under your scales can usually be picked out, but everything else is permanent! So please don't leave little holes or let your scales overlap. If you do leave holes, fill them with clay.

    6a) Molding your fluke!-
    Here is where the fun begins. Remember that fluke you sculpted? It's time to make the negative mold. When I say negative i just mean that it will be opposite, inverse, from the clay sculpt. First you have to make the clay wall 2-5 inches away from the model. Refer back to step 4 if you forgot how to do this. Then you must apply your release agent. Ease Release is a good mold release. Certain products need a different release. I will refer the best one when we go over those products right now.
    6b) Materials- These are some different mold materials you can use. Silicone will eventually be casted in these molds.
    1) Shellshock - For fluke molds this is a great liquid plastic! It captures great detail and is very lightweight and can be used again and again. At all times make sure to wear vinyl gloves (latex gloves are alright *ONLY for latex tails. silicone won't cure in the sight of latex. )
    a.Proper release- Acrylic spray to seal, then you can apply Ease Release 200. Wait 30 minutes for the ease release to dry before using shellshock.
    b. Mixing- 1a:4b in volume (cups, tbsp, tsp, etc 1a:5b weight (grams, pounds etc. All this means is that for every 1tbsp or cup of part A, add 4 tbsp or cups of part B. Or 1 gram of part A to 5 grams of B. Volume is probably going to be easiest in this case. Premix part B with a paint mixer, and shake part A. Now you are ready to pour your contents. Depending on how large your fluke is what determines the amount of shellshock you need for each layer. Just make sure your first layer is thin so all the detail is captured. Do tests to get used to the material, and know how much to use. An estimate of what I used for each layer was 1/2 cup of part A to 2 cups of part B. It's always different though.
    c. Applying- Like I said make sure the first layer is thinnest. To apply, Slowly have someone pour the shellshock on as you brush it in. You will need TONS of disposable paintbrushes. You will have 8 minutes to work (if you buy slow WHICH YOU SHOULD) so make sure you always have a helping hand. Wait 30-45 minutes after working until apply the next layer.
    d. Curing- Once 4-5 layers or 2-3 thick layers are applied, wait 5 hours until de-molding ***DON'T DEMOLD EARLY EVEN IF YOU THInK IT IS READY! It will easily crack if not cured.
    e. Demolding- After 5 hours, you are ready to demold. Be EXTREMELY cautious! Take of your clay wall. Carefully attempt to lift the edges. *DONT FORCE IT* If it doesn't budge, then take a putty knife (or something thin) and gently scrape under the mold to help it lift. If this doesn't work, then have someone help you flip over the fluke mold so that the wood, cardboard is facing up. If you are using card board or poster board then your job is easy. Just bend the material and peel it off. If your clay sculpt is stuck in the mold, then simply peel that out too. If there are extra tiny clay pieces stuck in the mold, then they will be handled shortly. For people who traced their fluke shape on wood and sculpted there, then it may be a little more difficult. Have a friend hold down the mold while you pull the wood off. It should release easily. Peel the clay out if in the mold. If it didn't release still, then try hammering the wood off from underneath, while someone holds the mold down. Drill the wood off, flick it with a screw driver! This will most likely not occur but if it does, then GOOD LUCK and apply more release next time.
    f. OPTIONAL (BUT RECOMMENDED)- Applying plasti-paste to your shell shock mold calls for durable, strong, light-weight mold and I think the cost is worth it!
    2) Fiberglass and Resin - Very long lasting and lightweight captures detail well and is pretty affordable. It also can be found at home depot! Same goes for gloves vinyl for silicone. Please work with this material outside in fresh air, and wear a safety mask, long pants and long sleeves, and googles if you would like. Lastly- A mold wall isn't needed! You can make a tiny wall to be safe, but for the most part, materials won't flow everywhere!
    a. Proper Release- Acyrlic Spray Sealant and Ease Release 200, PVA, Wax
    b. Mixing- Resin: for every 1 oz of resin (liquid) you must add 10 drops of catalyst (hardener that comes with resin) 8 oz of resin= 80 drops of catalyst! OOO FUN XD Fiberglass- cloth or mat in which is a support for the resin. Resin must be applied over it so it hardens and takes shape of the mold. Here is how you make a fiberglass mold-
    c. Applying- Apply a thin coat of resin and mat. Use a fiberglass roller if it is easier for you. Keep doing this for a few layers.
    d. Curing- let it cure for a few hours or until very hard. Don't de-mold early
    e. Demolding- Use a putty knife or something thin to release the edges. Carefully lift. This should work. If not, try similar methods as the shellshock.
    3) Ultracal 30- A gypsum cement plaster that experts say is hard to beat. It is a gypsum plaster cement that captures detail like no other. For my craft foam scales I used soccer ball circles and the Ultracal 30 even picked up the hexagons. It can be difficult to mix though, it also may pick up too much detail. It picks up undercuts easily, its heavy, and needs a backing of burlap straps. In that way it is not my favorite choice. It also make a huge mess!
    a. Proper release- Vaseline on wood, Acyrlic Spray and Ease Release 200
    b. Mixing- 38 parts of water to 100 parts of plaster in weight. It's hard to mix weight and volume. I guess if you mix 25 pounds of plaster you have to add 9.5 pounds of water, but I really don't know exactly. Here is where you can give me a tutorial! I hate to break the rules but honestly, I just added water until I received a slightly thick mixture. It worked for my scale mold, but if you can avoid doing this, then avoid it!
    c. Applying- Apply a thin coat by brushing it on. Brush on a thicker coat. Make another batch. Dip burlap in the material. Apply it on the mold. Do this one or two more times. Apply a final smoothing coat.
    d.Curing- Allow it to dry for a few hours. Don't demold early.
    e. Demolding- Use the same methods as the others. It may take awhile and you will definitely need an extra hand since it will be so heavy.

    These are the most used mold supplies for making a mermaid tail. There are many others, you just have to test them out.

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    Shell shock Mold
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    Shell shock thin coat backed with fiberglass.

    6c) Cleaning out extra clay- For monster clay you can use a blow dryer and heat the clay up until it's liquid. You can use Q-tips to get the clay out. Vaseline will come out with soap and hot water. Make sure you clean the moisture and soap out with a towel and (optional) acetone or mineral spirits. It may not completely come out and thats why it's difficult to work with. The other clays should peel out pretty simply. If you have issues then just take your time and it will eventually come out. Spray a hose at full speed also helps but I don't recommend this if the mold is too delicate,

    7) Now that we have the fluke mold, it's time to make your scale mold. The same materials listed above will probably be good options for your molds. Fiberglass shouldn't be used since there is a chance it may eat up the foam. If you made clay scales then fiberglass is fine. For all the products, I recommend sealing your scales with 2-5 coats of Crystal clear acrylic spray (this is mainly for foam since it's porous). After that you can apply thinned vaseline, Ease Release 200, or pam. Then you can use the same steps as above in applying your material. Remember that you have your mold box so that your material doesn't run everywhere.

    If some scales stick to the mold peel them out. If they become completely stuck, you can used sandpaper to fine it done, or acetone to somewhat dissolve it.

    8a) Casting the fluke-

    Clean, Release- Make sure your mold is clean and free from debris and moisture. Use acetone if you need to. Once it is dry, apply a coat of Ease Release (OPTIONAL). Wait for it to dry.

    Silicone: Dragon skin 10 Medium is one of the best options and most used by professionals. In this tutorial, this is going to be the silicone used because is it skin safe (when cured), stretches greatly, doesn't tear easily, and also is translucent when not pigmented which can give cool effects. Dragon skin 10 medium is a good option since it cures faster then slow, but gives you enough working time. If you know you work slowly then I recommend the slow version. If you have worked with dragon skin before, you can use FAST as long as you trust yourself. Although I would get a gallon of medium or slow since it may be hard to work so quick when you paint your tail later on.
    Preparation- Wear gloves at all time since uncured silicone can be harmful when dried on skin. Vinyl is a must for silicone. NO LATEX! Have measureing cups, a large disposable mixing bowl, plastic cups, paint mixers, and paper towels. If you have long hair, please wear it up. Make sure you work on tarp or garbage bags or something covering the floor so it won't get dirty. Mix part A and Part B (separately) for 30 seconds.
    Mixing- The ratio for silicone is 1a: 1b. This means that if you mix 1 cup of a, you must mix 1 cup of b. To know how much silicone to use for you fluke, using increments of 1 cup, fill the measuring cup with water and pour it into the mold. Keep track after every pour. (use paper and pencil if needed) When filled, determine your measurement and pour the water back into your sink or whatever. If your measurements adds to 6 cups, then you will be using 3 cups of part a and 3 cups of part b. Same for any other measurement. If it's an odd number, then just use half a cup. Your first layer should be thin to capture detail. 1/4-1/3 of your total measurement should be good for your first layer. If 6 cups is your total then 3/4 or 1cup of part a and 3/4 or 1cup of part b is good. Any smaller portion fraction will work. Pour your measurements of part b into your mixing container.
    Pigmentation (optional)- Once part B has been poured, pigment is optional. If you decide to pigment your silicone, then you must add a small amount of your paint to part B (one drop goes a long way) and mix. Then you add part a. Jacquard pearl-ex pigments or createx (wicked and auto air colors) are my favorites. You can also use smooth-on's silicone pigments or a different acrylic, but I highly recommend the ones listed. Any other paints may work but would be a risk.
    Now that you have mixed part B (and maybe your pigments) just add in part a. Mix together for 30 seconds. For your next layer you can just used the rest of your silicone needed to accomplish your measurement with the water. In this case, 6 cups with 2 cups total used for the first layer: Mix 2 cups of A and 2 cups of B for a total of the last 4 cups needed.. This is just an example. Make sure you use YOUR volume for the fluke.

    Applying- This part is pretty easy. Pour your mixed dragon skin into your mold. Brush around until your whole mold is filled. I told you it was easy! Wait until the dragon skin is NOT in it's gooey stage, and is dry before you apply your next layer. This can be 30min-1 hour with dragonskin medium.
    Cure- Wait 5 hours for your silicone to cure.
    De-mold- Gently peel the silicone out of your mold. It should come out pretty easy. If you notice any parts that are still gooey, then stop de-molding and wait for it to dry.
    And again- repeat this process again until you have 2 castings of your fluke. You will need both for a later step.
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    8b) Scales- Continue the same mixing and release procedure as for the fluke. Pour in your first thin layer, wait for it do dry, then add the rest of your contents. You don't NEED the thin layer but you can if you want to. You can also use the water measuring method, but if your mold is too heavy or may likely break, then I don't recommend it since it may break when you pour it back into a container or sink. If you don't use the water measurement then you can make an estimate. If some silicone isn't used, then freeze it and use it again for your next scale sheet (freezing stimulates the cure of silicone). You will be making 2 scale sheets unless if you are making one large one. To save silicone, I recommend making the casting in the shape of your body instead of filling the whole mold. If you do this you MUST leave and extra 2 inches of scales on each side so you can seam.
    OPTIONAL BUT HIGHLY RECOMMENDED- When casting scales, apply a backing of power mesh (material inside women's bathing suits). Slightly place it on the layer of silicone. This provides extra strength and prevent holes. You will need this on both castings.

    9) Seaming: This part will either be very difficult or easy, your silicone must be dry before seaming. It is good to do this less then 48 hours after your silicone has cured.

    9b) Sandwiching your fluke- This is the reason why your fluke MUST be symmetrical (only the outline/perimeter the detail in the middle/area of the fluke can differ) This is also why you NEED 2 fluke halves. Place one side with detail faced down on a piece of tarp or surface that is disposable and will avoid your floor from getting dirty. Place your monofin (with front facing up) in the correct place on your fluke (this should've been measured out several times based on your patterns and all). Place the other half over the fluke with detail facing up. Line up you fluke halves *IT MUST BE SYMMETRICAL OR IT WON'T LINE UP. If you are using a finis foil this might be difficult since the monofin is thick. Line it up more towards the lower part of the fluke. This should work, but to avoid this you can buy a shooter which is also small, but has a thinner blade. Once you know that it lines up and where, take off the top part. Apply 3-4 straws at the bottom of your fluke so that you have drainage holes. This is so water fills in the fluke and causes the fluke and the monofin to somewhat "stick" due to pressure. It also allows water to come out when you are done swimming. Apply silicone on the edges of the fluke. Avoid the straws. Put silicone around the edges of the other half. Carefully line them up. Leave the straws. Apply clamps to keep the fins still until they cure. Apply heavy objects on top if you need to. Its all right if silicone spills from the edges. This is the sandwiching of your fluke!
    Clamps: These are spring clamps which are strong and durable. You can buy them at home depot or walmart. Clothespins are also VERY helpful.

    10b) Adhering your scales- It is now time to use the dummy or pattern you made in step 2 to "seam" the scales. A friend or 2 will be helpful for this step. *I highly suggest you test doing this with smaller patches of scales before attempting.
    With dummy- Before doing this, make sure your dummy matches your measurements. You should also measure the scale sheets around your actual body, just to be sure everything will eventually fit right. You want your scales to be a little smaller then your measurements so that it hugs you tightly (silicone stretches). Place your monofin on your dummy so that you know where your scales will wrap over your fluke. It will be different for different tails, but it shouldn't most likely cover your foot pockets. Wrap one scale sheet around the front or back dummy. Make sure it's as tight as possible. Also this scale sheet should be flat on the floor with the front of the dummy on top so that when you apply your second sheet, it is easier. Pin it down or clip it on the dummy where it is in the correct measured position. If it doesn't stay then have a friend hold it down. Your dummy can also be standing up or hanging to make this easier. Take your second sheet and wrap it around the other side. If there are more then 5 inches of silicone scales overlapping, then you will need to trim first. Trim it based on how much the first sheet overlaps. Cut it to the shape it needs to be with an extra 3-5 inches of scales left to overlap underneath. Once your scales are it position, measuring tape or anything and wrap it around to keep it in place. You can also tie measuring tape, a rope, or anything that will help. Clip or pin everything, make sure it's tight *NOT SAGGING. Make sure the scales cover the fluke and monofin properly. Make sure any areas on your body don't look to wide. Everything tight and clean. Not not rush, if you know something doesn't look right, now is you chance to fix it. Your tail will looks wrinkly if there is any area that is wide. For my first tail, My ankles had tons of extra silicone scales and was way to wide so wrinkled and sagged when I swam. Once everything is firm in position, Mix up a batch of silicone or latex. Pigment doesn't need to be added so that if you material sandwiches out, it won't be seen. With a paint brush or popsicle stick, brush silicone under where the scales overlap. Try to make sure your scales overlap. Do this every where on the tail. Place heavy objects so that it stays in place. Use your thumb and press down every scale. Leave your tighteners (rubber bands, ropes, clips). Slightly lift them and apply your silicone. Or you can avoid them and do them later when your scales are already in shape. Wait for the silicone to cure. When cured fill in the tightened areas if needed. You can take the scales off the model and try them on to make sure it fits. If so then you are ready to attach the scales to the fluke. If it doesn't, then you will have to got through more work.
    Error in scale fitting- If worst case scenario occurs, don't panic. Your first option is to slowly peel off one side of cured scales. Use scissors if needed. Wrap around your body and adjust to your size. Pinch where the scales overlap, Re-seam to this measurement. Another way is to cut a strip down the back of your scales. And re-overlap based on your measurements. Your scales may not look as nice anymore, but once you paint them, it will turn out fine.

    Pattern- First you will need to figure out where your scales will end over your fluke. If you are desiring a certain shape you will need to cut the scales that way. You should have two scales sheets in the shape of your body. If not then cut them so they are. **MAKE SURE YOU HAVE AN EXTRA 2-3" OF SCALES ON EACH SIDE OF YOUR SCALE SHEETS. Now, connect the two sheets on the side and overlap one sheet over the other, Line up the scales, and cut them so they fit like a puzzle. Pin them down in place of clip them.
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    The pink or 2nd scale sheet overlaps the first (green). Look at the way the pink scales are shaped so the side of the scales overlaps on the bottom of another. If the edge scales are a little thinner this is easier.

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    Here are my pinned scales. After this I apply silicone underneath each scale and let it cure. Later on I reinforce the the inside my flipping it inside out.

    Scales to fluke-With all seaming methods, you should have the way and length your scales cover your fluke measured out. Simply line up the scales, wrap them around where they should be on your fluke (make sure your ankles are still nice and tight and position since saggy ankles are ugly), clip your fluke and scales, then seam. It's not as difficult since it's a small area. Apply heavy objects if needed.

    Painting ( can also be done before seaming)- To paint silicone, you have to actually use silicone itself or the paint won't stay. You have to mix pigmented silicone and then apply it on in different methods.

    By Hand- Mix up a small amount of silicone. Add your color pigment in part b and then add part a. Make sure the color is how you want it to look. Using a paintbrush gently apply where you want the color. Do multiple layers if needed. Make sure it isn't too thick or the scales will level out. You can also thin it down with a little Naphtha if needed.

    Airbrush/ Paint gun- Mix a small amount of silicone by adding pigment to part b then adding part a. Thin it down with Naphtha, Toluene, or xylene. Mix not TOO much but enough that the viscosity is similar to milk. Pour into your airbrush cup, and begin stroking gently with your airbrush. Use your airbrush's directions for proper use. Apply many layers until the desired color is achieved. Pretty simple xD

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    And then you have-

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    Caring for your tail- After each use in chlorinated water please wash with baking soda and water. Rinse with water after every use. Don't stand in your tail and don't scratch, scrape, or stretch it too much.

    HAVE FUN !!! XD

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Thank you Jazz! <3
    (Formerly known as Mermaid Claudia)

  4. #4
    This is so cool. Thanks!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod
    North Pacific Pod

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    Wow... Thanks!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Rocky Mountain Pod Mermaid Dottie's Avatar
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    Is there no end to your awesome-ness, girl!
    Jazzy, you are FINOMINAL!
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  7. #7
    Senior Member Euro Pod *Celine*'s Avatar
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    May 2012
    Thanks Jazz, if I ever find the guts to make my own silicone tail I'll know where to look for guidance. :-)

  8. #8
    Awesome tutorial! Thanks for sharing!
    “The cure for anything is salt water -- sweat, tears, or the sea.”
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  9. #9
    Your welcome everyone!

  10. #10
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod lynsea's Avatar
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    You are spectacular! *copy and save*
    “I must be a mermaid, Rango. I have no fear of depths and a great fear of shallow living.”
    Anaïs Nin

  11. #11
    Awesome! Thanks so much for sharing! I will be adding this to the Reference Guide Index

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  12. #12
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod PearlieMae's Avatar
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    Wonderful work, Jazz! Outstanding!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Pod of Oceania AnnaAbyss's Avatar
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    Aireys Inlet, VIC, Australia
    Thank you Jazz, I'm sure this will help me when I go to make mine

  14. #14
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod Mermaid Melanie's Avatar
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    Great post Jazz - I've learned a lot through reading your tail threads ! Power to ya chika well done ! xx
    Yougot your own style, now let it come through. And remember no matter what, you got to be you. -Sebastian

  15. #15
    This is awesome thank you! What is this acrylic spray you keep mentioning? Do you only need to use it with foam or do you need it for clay too? Also, if you're using clay do you still need a mold release when using ultracal?

  16. #16

  17. #17

  18. #18
    Senior Member Pod of Cali Prince Calypso's Avatar
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    Bakersfield California. USA
    OMG Thank you! This is gonna be such a big help!!!
    Little Sailor, Little fool, your better heed the golden rule
    do unto other just as you, would like to to have them do to you
    you think you can just walk away,but no, it doesn't work that way
    see once your mine, your'll always be
    I never give anything for free...

  19. #19
    Your welcome everyone! I'm glad you like it @Aino - The acrylic spray is a sealant that will seal the foam scales and help since they are pourus. If you are using fiberglass for your clay it will also help absorb the moisture since fiberglass and wetness don't do well together. You have to do about 2-5 layers depending on your sculpture (if you use fiberglass).
    Last edited by jazz2453; 01-14-2014 at 08:34 AM.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Undisclosed Pod Morticia Mermaid's Avatar
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    Hey Jazz, not sure if someone has already pointed this out, but you might add to the shell shock molding under c. Applying that they should put the mold release on it before applying the shell shock

    If it's already there somewhere, I must have missed it xD
    I claim Pat 1001! ~Mermaid Morticia

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