Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tails o' the Sea

Oh boy! What have I gotten myself into this time...This is proving to be messier and more difficult than I thought, but I'm already committed...(or is that I should BE committed!) I slathered on a thicker layer of Alex caulking, let it get gummy and then laid down fish net. I was going to try the metal grate "stamp" thing, but couldn't find a grate with the right pattern locally. So, I know I had seen someone using fish net to make the scales; however, what I didn't realize is that the net doesn't come off of the caulk as easily as I thought it might. Either that, or I have to let it get even more "cured" before I try pulling it off.
Since the caulk is still "moldable", I experimented with sculpting the scales where the tail goes into the fluke - using an ordinary spoon...It seemed to work out pretty good. I may have to add more caulk as I go along to fill in holes and spots, but I think that may work out pretty good. For the fluke, I used a combination of a chopstick and a sponge paint brush that I had cut so that I could give the fluke some texture.
It doesn't look too bad so far for my first attempt at this, but I'll need to work at it some more to "clean it up"  before I consider it ready to paint. Now to find an affordable air brushing kit and generator...

Well, that was a bad idea - soon after I went to check if I should pull the netting out, I realized that I had let it dry *too* long and that I couldn't get the net out without tearing up my fabulous caulking job. So, in a panic, I posted to the MerNetwork forums and asked for some advice. Merbel, who wrote the tutorial I am using, answered me and said to remove the net "immediately!", that it was better to waste the caulk than to ruin the neoprene and that I had indeed left the netting in the caulk for too long. She said I could always go back over it with more caulk to "fix" it. So, I carefully tore the netting away (it was a real bi*ch, I tell you!) and was left with quite a totally tweaked most of the tail and took away a good deal of caulk with it.
Interesting effect!
It did leave some kind of cool looking intermittent scales though...So, back to the drawing board. I tried to fill in some of the empty spots - I may just kind of leave it with the intermittent it a kind of punk, tattered fish effect, maybe more realistic and not so perfect. I'm still working on it and trying to figure out different ways to "sculpt" the scales. The edge of a teaspoon works pretty good if you press it upside down into the caulk while it's still kind of gummy and sticky.
I really wish the metal grating had worked out. I ended up finding some at Lowe's, but I felt that the shapes were too small for the size of the tail. I thought about finding one of those copper cake/jello molds that look like a fish and using the scales on that as a stamp. I still may try that if I can find one....there's got to be a better way!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Tails o' the Sea

After having been side tracked for most of the summer with other things (mainly a grueling schedule at work, and my 30th class reunion), I am back on track with the mermaid tail. In my first post I mentioned that I hadn't taken into account how long my tail would actually have to be with the fluke included, and therefore hadn't bought enough neoprene - but wait! I had a brainstorm and solved my problem, thereby saving myself a trip and some cash. I just used a little thing called - flat-locking. It's a way to join two pieces of fabric (or in this case neoprene) together, and since it was going to be covered with latex caulking anyway, it would never be seen.
I made the join in the fluke, because it would be less noticeable and it wouldn't matter if it was watertight, as you don't want your fluke filling up with water anyway. It worked like a charm! My fabulous Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 835 sewing machine handled the neoprene with ease!
Now for the latex part - I bought a buttload (yes, that is a technical term) of Alex silicone latex caulking at Walmart (Caulking -it's not just for bathrooms anymore!), the kind that dries clear and some cheap sponge paint brushes, as I'm sure I'll go through quite a few of those...
I laid out one side of the tail on my work table and squeezed the caulk onto it, using the sponge paint brush to smooth it out and "paint" the caulking over the tail. I left the very edges as bare as possible so the two sides can be sewn together later. The first layer doesn't need to be very thick, so I spread it out as thin as possible but still making sure I had coverage.
LOL! Note the "Pirates of the Caribbean - White Cap Bay" Lego box
It was a bit hard to spread thinly, but I think I managed to do it correctly (how would I know, I've never done it before!) So, now to let it dry. I'm not sure how long it is supposed to take, but I would imagine at least a couple of hours. I'll do the other side tomorrow after this dries, as my work table wasn't big enough to do both sides at the same time (I had to duct tape that Lego box to the end of the table to make it just long enough to lay the tail out without any hanging over the edge)