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Tail and Tutorial: Rogue Siren

Modeling the Tail: Lopti of Some Like it Blue

This is not an inexpensive project, and it is very time consuming. Custom silicone tails start at around $2000, after this tutorial, you will understand why. Materials alone can cost over $1000, they will be covered in the next step.

Expense alone is why I wouldn't recommend this as your first mermaid tail. Try a fabric or neoprene tutorial first. Swim in a monofin. Figure out if mermaiding is for you!

These tails are heavy! Depending on how thick you cast your scales and fins (more on this later), you could end up with a tail weighing 35lbs or more! Not only are they heavy, but they bind your legs and feet together. Be sure you are a confident swimmer, and have a buddy before attempting to swim in one.

They also take a lot of care! This will be covered at the end, but the overall effect is worth it! These are the most realistic and fully swimmable tails you see around! The final texture and feel is just like a fish.

WARNING: Tailmaking is addicting!

Looking for more info on mermaiding? Check out Mernetwork. It is an amazing resource.

Step 1: Materials

Materials:

  • Oil-based, sulfur-free clay (5 lbs of Plastalina or Monster Makers is recommended)
  • Plaster or fiberglass resin (you should need around 2 gallons of resin OR 50 lbs plaster)
  • Fiberglass matting
  • Vegetable oil (to clean fiberglass molds of clay)
  • Original Dawn dish soap
  • Spray bottle
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Krylon Lacquer
  • Platinum Cure Silicone (Smooth-On's Dragonskin 10 medium is recommended: 2 gallon units should suffice)
  • Silicone Solvent (Smooth-On's NOVOCS: 2 pints)
  • Silicone Pigment (Jacquard Pearl Ex and Smooth-On's Silc-Pig are recommended)
  • Sil-Poxy (not necessary, but recommended)
  • Mixing cups
  • Plastic spoons or sticks for mixing
  • Power Mesh (swimsuit lining: 1-2 yards)
  • Thread(and needle)
  • Sewing/fabric pins
  • Small plastic/vinyl tubing
  • Latex-free, vinyl gloves
  • Tracing paper
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Airbrush or disposable Paintbrushes
  • a Monofin (the next section will cover monofins)
<p>Thank you for posting this! I'm not using it for a mermaid tail, but I'm using it for bits of a cosplay costume. I plan on cosplaying Tali'Zorah from Mass Effect, I circled the parts of her costume where I want to use silicone. Is there a way to make it have a matte finish like in the photo I added?</p>
<p>For a matte finish, add Cab-o-sil to your silicone paint. It lightens the color though, so be careful.</p>
<p>How do you have any money for this stuff???? Over $1000?!!?!?!??!? I MEAN COME ON REALLY!!!! Im juts a kid under 15 and I don't even have a job yet and me and my family don't have enough money for this project so how do you afford this i wonder how???????? I mean I'm really not trying to be rude or mean or anything but seriously i really wanna make this i just don't have any cash!! please helpmate find a cheaper way to do this!!</p>
Ik right I'm here looking at these tails for thousands of dollars I mean u actually want people to buy this right?
<p>Please be aware that there are cheaper versions, in the $800 range from some places. But not all tails are equal, and some start at $3,400. Yes, I said start at. These tails take weeks, if not months, to produce and are made entirely custom to the individual. The paint jobs also take several weeks to complete. You're paying for something typically that will last several years, with good care, and is normally used for performers such as myself. <br>Try looking for fabric tails. They are under $200 normally and look quite nice. Perfect for a teen who is still growing. Silicon cannot be resized. You loose weight, ok, not that big of a deal. But you gain any? You won't fit in your thousand dollar tail anymore. </p>
You could use latex instead of silicone, it's less good (obviously) but a lot cheaper
I have been trying to make the tail and I have it done all the way to the painting, but the painting is not working. I am using slic pig and novocs with a platinum cure silicone, but the paint peels off. Did you use some sort of primer for yours? I washed it with dawn and wiped it with isorophyl alcohol also, but the paint still peels off. Help! 450 hours of work and I don't want to give up on the fun part!
<p>cool</p>
<p>Nice project. It's impressive how you managed to swim wearing the tail.</p>
<p>Thank you. I actually find swimming with a tail easier than swimming without one. :)</p>
<p>same here :}</p>
<p>I was going to say! As a former swimmer, using a monofin would vastly outperform any propulsion you could hope to get using your own feet. I'd wager that a confident swimmer could get by absolutely fine without even using their arms. I'd bet you could pull off a killer butterfly stroke with this fin too! Swimming aside, this is some truly impressive craftsmanship. Well done!</p>
<p>Monofins might be easy but using such a delicate and heavy DIY one is still pretty impressive to lousy swimmers like me, who are happy with enough skill to just manage to not drown.</p>
<p>Yes, no offense to lousy swimmers! I assume (possible incorrectly) that most people who are into this hobby for so much time and effort and money would develop quite the proficiency using their tails, and likely become very strong swimmers.</p>
<p>Love the instructions but would also love to know how you made your top.</p>
<p>When measuring and cutting out the power mesh, am I just measuring down to the ankles, or should I trace the mono fin portion connected to the body as if I were making a fabric tail, and sandwiching the monofin between the mesh to later be sandwiched between the silicone fluke pieces? I hope that makes sense :/</p>
<p>me and my friend are trying to make these any tips for us beginners?</p>
<p>Here's a link from mernetwork with more info:</p><p>http://mernetwork.com/index/showthread.php?7106</p>
<p>An important question for you is have you ever swam in a tail before? If not, then silicone is not advised. Try your fins out with some fabric or neoprene. Practice with a monofin by itself. Expect a fabric tail to wear out in a year and then if you're ready to move up to silicone, go for it.</p>
<p>How much did it cost for all of the materials? For 1 tail?</p>
<p>Bare minimum, you'll be looking at $500-600 (this price includes a basic monofin). I think Rogue Siren mentions one gallon of silicone. You'll need 2-3 gallons and that's where the greatest expense lies (~$400). And a 1-gallon unit is actually 2 gallons (1 gal part A and 1, part B). Kanti gives a good breakdown on Mernetwork: </p><p><a href="http://mernetwork.com/index/showthread.php?2089-Full-Silicone-Tail-Tutorial-In-the-works" rel="nofollow">http://mernetwork.com/index/showthread.php?2089-Fu...</a></p><p>I'm getting ready to pour my molds and then I'll just have the silicone to go.</p><p>Hope that helps.</p>
<p>and how many yards did u use for the powermesh?</p>
<p>how many gallons of smooth on silicone you used?</p>
Two-three gallons depending on how thick it is cast.
<p>amazing</p>
<p>prett</p>
<p>Beautifully done.</p>
<p>Beautiful!! amazing craftsmanship! </p>
<p>Wow! this is really pretty!Good job!</p>
<p>That reminds me of the time i tried to make tetsuo's mutant arm from akira, unfortunately my method had some flaws in it, matbe i can take tips from this project.</p>
<p>This is amazing! You're very talented.</p>
<p>Phenomenal! You GO sister mermaid!</p>
Omg! Thank you so much! I've been reading the &quot;Special Makeup Effects for Stage and Screen&quot; by Todd Debreceni so that I could do this exact project and as complete and amazing as this book is I still had questions specifically regarding application to the monofin. You answered them all with this tutorial. I'm so excited to actually start the sculpting process now! I'm so grateful!
With the many colors that duct tape is made in it seems like scales could be constructed of folded duct tape and attached to a slip on &quot;skin&quot; made from pantyhose or shape wear fabric.
<p>Very fetching.</p><p>The goldfish are positively drooling.</p>
<p>1st of all, what a phenomenal creation!!! Both from a technical and aesthetic perspective, a thing of beauty. </p><p>Just idol curiosity, is it positively or negatively buoyant? If so how much? Have you considered possible changes to change it's buoyancy, and would there be any benefit to making changes?</p><p>Once again, an amazing creation! </p>
<p>Thank you!</p><p>Silicone is neutrally buoyant in the water, sometimes with a slight positive buoyancy. Mermaids often have to use weight belts for diving! Either in belt form, as as weights between their legs inside the tail.</p>
<p>This is SO beyond a Halloween costume, almost a way of life, and way too gorgeous. Ariel eat your heart out!</p>
When I win a million dollars and have my own pool, I will be making one of these, if only for photo shoots!!!
<p>wonderful good job .</p>
<p>This is just Amazing </p>
<p>Wow- that is some seriously impressive work!</p>
<p>Thank you!</p>
<p>Beautiful work! I love the style of your fins and fluke. I am hoping to start making my silicone tail in the very near future. This will come in handy.</p>
<p>Nicely done! I didn't realize you posted a tutorial here. You've included a lot of good information. Cheers!</p><p>Pearlie Mae</p>
<p>This is really impressive! Silicone is really tricky and it's so nice and beneficial to the community to have people publish this type of work openly. Thank you so much for this!</p>
Very well done. The detail on the scaling is great.
<p>Well presented and informative The paint job's excellent! N</p>
<p>Fantastic mermaid outfit... Love it...</p>
<p>I have always wanted to be able to swim like a mermaid. Your mermaid tail is awesome and breathtaking! Good Job?</p>

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