Time to get your feet wet!! This Mermaid Tail project is just swimmingly perfect for your beach decor. Follow my Instructable step by step and your on your way to creating your very own fin—tabulous wall sculpture.
Mermaids & Merman are fascinating, beautiful and mysterious. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a Mermaid tale.
That is why I created this sculpture and I hope you enjoy.
Good clean working area
Mermaid tail pattern
large plastic bag
mixing containers for Resin and Plaster
paintbrushes and rinse container
Acrylic paints ( for canvas or tail)
FolkArt Ultra Dyes
Chip brush for plaster
hob-e-tac woodland scenics
large roll shaper sheet
white acrylic paint
spray bottle with water
Hot glue gun and glue
4 small portion cups
Tool to trace pattern( like empty pen or cake tool)
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Cutting and Tooling the Shaper Sheet
This project is finished on an 18”x18” canvas. We start by making the fin pattern. I designed this tail a while back but there are lots of sources for the tail shape you desire. I have provided a template for your use. Next we cut an 18”x18” piece of Shaper Sheet. When you purchase your roll of shaper sheet the large roll is 18” wide so it is easier to cut and no waste. I save all the bits anyway because they can be used for lots of other things. Fold SS in half evenly with foil side out. Take your fin and tail templet and place the middle section on the fold just like picture. Trace around it creating an impression for cutting.
I cut mine folded however you can trace one side and flip pattern to trace other side and then cut if needed. Then lay the small tail templet down on the fold. You will trace around it but add a 1/2” around the edge.
Cut out the pieces. Be careful it is a metal material and even though it cuts very nice it can still cut or poke you. Time for tooling the details. With your piece of cardboard or scrap foam place the the pieces foil side up. See pictures. You will take your tool of preference ( modeling tool, popsicle stick, pen)
Start to tool in the fluke and fin details curving and following to the tips of the flukes.
Add what you like. This detail will show in our surface when we plaster later.
Do the same for the upper tail piece. This piece will be tooled with little scale details (u shapes) and they go across not vertical like the fluke ones. See pictures.
After you have completed this, it’s time to take and hot glue the pieces together just like the picture.
Make sure the pieces line up at the two tabs and are straight. Later the tail will lay even to one side of the canvas edge. Let’s move on.
Step 2: Plastering the Tail
Place the pieces fabric side up on a scrap of cardboard. Put about one cup of plaster in a bowl add water till you get a heavy cream consistency. I don’t mix the plaster the traditional way which is add plaster to the water etc. You can if you want. I take my chip brush and mix . Adjust the mixture accordingly we want it to be thin and flowing. You will want to work quickly so it doesn’t cure on you . Usually you have a 5 min working time.
Spray a lite mist of water onto the Shaper Sheet pieces. Woodland Scenics does have a plaster for this material.
Cover all of the fabric and pay close attention to the direction you brush in. You should follow the line details.
If the tail has flattened some you can reposition before it starts to set. Put the upper tail onto the fin to make sure it lines up and has the shape you like.
A paper towel can be placed underneath to elevate more. It doesn’t need it usually. Remember it will harden in this form.
Let it dry
Do not dump your plater water or plaster in the drains. Rinse your brush in a container of water and then dispose of in the trash. It will pop free from containers when dry making it easy for cleanup.
Take a break!!! Or do what I do and paint your canvas.
Step 3: Prep and Paint the Canvas
The canvas is a 18”x18” rolled edge. You can frame you art or not.
This part is very simple I just sponged a pale aqua blue and white over the whole thing including the edges. Think about the colors of your tail etc.
I wanted it to represent water and bubbles. You can always add more color after you paint the tail if it isn’t to your liking.
Sea sponge is what I used to paint with. Let it dry. Moving on.
Step 4: Painting the Tail W/ FolkArt Ultra Dyes
Translucent paints are wonderful for projects like this because they create layers of depth and vibrancy. Perfect for a Mermaid,Merman or a hippocampus .
Now that the tail is dry you will want to hot glue the upper tail to the fin. Place dots of glue on the tabs and line the upper piece over them and secure.
Place a small amount under the curved tip when cool flip over and hot glue around the seam. See photo.
Put the project back on the cardboard and paint an even coat of white paint over all the plaster . Check for coverage.
Let dry well. You can spray a matte or gloss sealer on the white this helps when it comes time to blend the ultra dyes. Let dry thoroughly before doing the dye painting.
Shake the ultra Dyes before pouring on palette ( foam plate).
These colors are so intense and easy to work with. They dry but can be removed with a baby wipe. I started with the bright green first at the tips. Water on the brush will thin and lighten the color. Makeup sponges are great fro blending as well. See pictures.
Keep layering until you get your desired color , then dry throughly. Swimming on!
Step 5: Glitter Yes Glitter
Guess what?? The glitter will stay on this project because it will be covered in resin. But the glitter will be everywhere before that so if you don’t like glitter then by all means eliminate this step. But if you are the trendy fashionable and fearless person I think you are, GLITTER ON.
My go to glue for virtually anything that needs a really sticky surface and that will get sealed is Hob-e-tack. This glue is so sticky trust me when I say, use gloves and work clean. I have another Instructable we’re I use this glue for reconditioning my electronic cutting mats.
Decide we’re you want your glitter , brush a thin layer of glue ( it will be white but drys very clear and very sticky)
You can use this glue , walk away and even when you come back yep it’s sticky. Begin sprinkling on your glitters , the different size glitters add lots of texture. Use your gloved fingers to press into the glue. Repeat until you get your desired look.
Clean up your area!! Yes trust me I know you made a beautiful sparkly mess so clean it up before the kids, the fur babies or your spouse takes it on a joyride through the house. No Glitter Bombs here!!
All joking aside glitter cleanup can be painful. Tip I keep a lint roller nearby and wet wipes but one new device I haven’t tried yet it, is a little vacuum by Woodland Scenics that gathers up field grasses after you use their Static king. The Model-vac keeps the particles in a clear tube so you can use them again.
So even if it’s a mixed glitter it’s still usable instead of being wasted.
Well let’s get this baby swimming in resin.
Step 6: Mount and Resining
Place your dried painted canvas flat on your work area ,then lay your mermaid tail on top. Position the tail so the straight edge of the piece lays flush to one side. See pictures.
Hot glue into place. The piece should be secure but if it a little loose it is ok, the resin will adhere it to the canvas permanently. If you forgo using resin add more glue to hold it to the canvas.
Place the trash bag onto your work service and tape into place.Do this in a clean work area and somewhere the project will not be disturbed ( needs about 24 hours depending on resin used) protect yourself gloves, goggles, mask. Always work safe !!
We will use the little cups to help raise the canvas up so that excess resin can drip freely from the edge. The resin used is a coating resin and not a casting resin. Coating resins are typically thicker and do self level. The thicker resin helps keep waste down .
I used Flowart-resin in my project it is a 1-1 ratio. Resins yellow over time so having colors besides white is helpful in camouflaging the change over time. Mix your resin per manufacturers directions then start pouring slowly over the high areas then gradually done the rest of the tail. Using your gloved hand start spreading out the resin to help cover everything. Pour the rest on the canvas and spread that out. Keep edges wiped and check all areas of the tail just to make sure you haven’t missed anything. Keep checking for about 15 min. The resin should start to setup, leave to cure about 24 hours depending on brand and weather etc.
I have included some pictures of Friends who took one of my workshops and as you can see the tails turned out wonderful.
Thank you for all your support and please vote if you loved this Instructable. The Juliart
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