Emma

Making a Latex and Neoprene Mermaid Tail Tutorial

latex and neoprene mermaid tail tutorial


Something a little different for today. Here is a mermaid tail I made over the summer. It’s made out of neoprene and latex, and is probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever made. But it has it’s flaws. In this blog, I’ll go over how I made it, what to do and what not to do, and just the general information. Please note: A more in depth blog will be starting soon about this same thing. I’m going to be making another tail, much more detailed and generally better in another month or so.

Moving on!

A mermaid tail is a HUGE investment, be aware of this. I managed to make a latex tail for about $500 dollars, and that was saving a lot of money because I managed to get a lot of the clay and plaster donated. So be aware of that before you decide to make one of these things, it is an investment.

Making a Mermaid Tail

I don’t have a picture of this stage, but here’s the inspiration of my tail.

First thing you want to do is buy a monofin, and then create a “sleeve” of neoprene. The latex has to have something to adhere to. So break out the sewing machine and make a fabric tail for yourself. Don’t mistake Neoprene for Neoprin. Different material. Neoprin will stretch out eventually and your tail will no longer fit.

Making a Mermaid Tail

Now you get to do your scale mold. Here’s where I first went wrong, and something that’s pretty important. I followed some other tutorials online that I saw, and I made scales out of foam that I punched circles out of. You know the adhesive foam that you used to make art projects as a kid? Yeah, those. I used a filed pipe and a hammer to punch out over 3,000 of those things, and then laid out a scale mold.

Ultimately, I was very unhappy with it. Now I would sculpt out the scales, using clay and a cookie cutter or foil folded into the shape I want. Firstly, because I find that scales look much better if they are original, plus, having discrepancies in your tail is a good thing.

Making a Mermaid Tail

Make a mold! That scale sheet should be completed in a box that you can then pour ultracal 30 into. Be sure to build “walls” around the scales. You can see by the photo I used two by fours and then filled in the edges with clay.


Making a Mermaid Tail

The tail/fluke is the fun part. Remember you’re only sculpting half of this tail, and then making two pulls of it. (Pulls = what you “pull” out of the mold) Don’t make it as thick as I did. Latex takes forever to dry, and won’t hold up well with a thick mold.

NOTE: sculpt the fluke very close to the monofin’s size.

Mold again.

Making a Mermaid Tail

This stage is the same for both fluke and scales. Paint the latex in. The unfortunate thing about liquid latex is that it has to air dry. Meaning if you paint it too thick, it will never ever cure. That means I did probably 30 layers on these, and they still were barely as thick as they should have been.

To get a color base on liquid latex, add acrylic into it. Then, when your tail gets scratched, there won’t be a giant white mark on it. You’re going to have to paint over the tail anyways, but this will ensure that you have something to base the color on.


Making a Mermaid Tail

This was my first tail, and I wasn’t happy with the coloring. To adhere the latex sheets onto the neoprene, just put a thin layer of latex onto the neoprene, and stick the scale sheet onto it. Voila!

Making a Mermaid Tail

Hey look at that, so much better! Remember with latex, it does not hold color well. You’re going to have to repaint the tail pretty much every time you swim, and that gets old quick. However, no matter what you use the tail for, it is going to fade.

Anyways, that’s the tail! It’s a lot of fun to swim in, and gets a lot of really hilarious looks when you swim by someone in a tail. Mermaids are real right? πŸ˜‰

Making a Mermaid Tail

So for my next tail, it’s going to be silicone, going to hide a lot more of the look of the legs as well as the heels. I’m going to add a few different additions to it, and really try to make it more of a modernized scary mermaid. Short film being made in the summer to go along with it! Should be fun.

51 Comments

  1. John Hart
    John HartReply
    August 15, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    You will have better luck with the latex if you use White Hydrocal for the mold instead of Ultracal 30. The Hydrocal absorbs liquids from the latex so the latex cures faster.

    • Emma
      August 15, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      Good tip! I used Ultracal for the strength, but in the end it didn’t matter much because that scale mold did not move other than to flip it over. I’ll have to give hydrocal a try next time. Thanks so much for letting me know!

  2. Amie
    AmieReply
    September 6, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Did you use anything to hold the tail up around the waist, like elastic?

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      September 11, 2014 at 9:44 am

      I didn’t! Latex is pretty stiff on it’s own so it stayed up really well.

  3. Rikki
    September 16, 2014 at 9:21 am

    This is SO cool!! I’m planning to make a mermaid costume for Halloween this year, so it’ll be much simpler than what you’ve made here, but wow, this is amazing! Looks like a lot of fun!:) Props to you!;)

  4. Brittney Parsee
    Brittney ParseeReply
    October 25, 2014 at 2:31 am

    What tutorials did you use!?

  5. Simone
    SimoneReply
    October 30, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    It would be great if possible, for you to do a video explaining a few of the steps as you go along on the next one (: this is really cool, and is love to make one someday when i have so much money to spare (and can talk my boyfriend into believing it’s worth it (;)

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      November 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I’ll do my best! Should be starting the next one within the month. πŸ™‚ Stay tuned!

  6. Lauren
    November 9, 2014 at 11:53 pm

    Awesome job! You should be really proud. I’m totally flowing to see what other fun things you do.

  7. Trish
    TrishReply
    November 20, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Emma, this is awesome! my 2 daughters are the “massachusetts mermaids” for their dad’s pool store. i’ve taken mermaid pics of them every year since they were born. they are 13 now. i’ve made their costumes out of fabric but they are not swim worthy. i’ve been wanting to make them suits to swim in but i haven’t found any instructions that have enough detail for me to follow. would love to see more pics of your steps in between? email me? thanks so much!!

  8. KK
    KKReply
    November 26, 2014 at 10:30 am

    Hi I’m 11 do you think this is a good project for me? And how long does it take, cuz I am soo not patient by all means!

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      November 26, 2014 at 10:34 am

      It can take a while depending on how much detail you put into it! I’d say at least a week, sometimes a month! It’s a great project to start with though, and I think you could do a wonderful job on it! The best things take time to make. And it’s worth it in the end! Give it a try, and if you need any help at all just email me at themagpieswardrobe@gmail.com . I’d be happy to help!

  9. KK
    KKReply
    November 26, 2014 at 10:55 am

    Thx!!!!! I’ll just have to start saving for it!!!

  10. Isabella
    IsabellaReply
    January 4, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    do you think it’s possible to make this if its smaller like for a doll?

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      January 6, 2015 at 1:19 pm

      Absolutely! Just use the same steps on a much smaller scale. It’ll be easier to fit to your doll than a live person too!

  11. Crystal Dickerson-Hancock
    January 6, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Hi Emma! Thanks so much for sharing your talents with us! I was wondering if you have finished you video tutorial as of yet? and if so where can I look for it? Also do you recommend a certain monofin? Maybe you suggest the brand you used because it looks great! Also I was wondering if there is anyway you could cc: me (or forward) the info you sent to Trish on 11/20/2014? — You are truly a talented artist!

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      January 6, 2015 at 1:20 pm

      Hello! I do not have a video tutorial yet, that is in production as I (finally) am starting another tail. There are a ton of monofin options, which I’ll include in my email to you! I have limited photos of the project, but what I have is yours. Keep an eye out for the email!

  12. Kloe Grace
    Kloe GraceReply
    January 6, 2015 at 8:30 pm

    Where did you buy the ultracal 30? Also do you think the hydrocal would work better?

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      January 6, 2015 at 11:20 pm

      Hello! I got the ultracal at https://www.sheffield-pottery.com/ because they are very close to me. They were really awesome! Hydrocal is something I haven’t played with yet, I really enjoy the ultracal at the moment, so I would have to say try out both and decide which you like better! If you’re making latex, I might suggest hydrocal since it is a little more drying than ultracal.

  13. Linda
    LindaReply
    February 11, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Love this mermaid tail blog post! Could you also send me the same email you sent Crystal and Trish please? Also when do you think the video tutorial will be finished? Also, will you upload it on youtube and direct it from your blog and keep us posted? Thanks!

    • emma.hamm20@gmail.com
      February 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you so much Linda! I’ll send you the email that I have. The video is on hold for a bit, but it WILL be happening! It’ll be up on youtube as well, so you should be all set. I’ll email you when it starts as well!

  14. Christina
    ChristinaReply
    February 23, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Hi Emma! The tail looks amazing! I entertain as Ariel at parties and would like to make a tail of my own but have not yet found tutorials with enough detail to follow. I was wondering if you could send me the email you sent Linda and notify me when the video goes up because I would love to see that too! Thank you!

    • Emma
      February 23, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      Sent!

  15. February 24, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    […] si tu es d’humeur crΓ©ative tu trouveras un DIY pour une nageoire en latex ici, ou en tissu iΓ§iΒ et […]

  16. Bekah
    BekahReply
    March 9, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Hi, Emma! I just sent you and email with lots of questions hahahaha but I forgot one! If I make it with silicone do I still need to make the sleeve? Thank you!

    • Emma
      March 11, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Replied! πŸ˜‰

  17. Jenna
    JennaReply
    March 18, 2015 at 10:33 am

    Hey! Great instructions, I’m a Michigan mermaid currently but I have a fabric tail, I love it but I want realistic. Can you send me any more detailed instructions if you have any? I really don’t want to screw this up and make sure I get everything perfect!

    • Emma
      March 18, 2015 at 10:34 am

      Hello Jenna! I’ll send you an email asap. πŸ™‚

  18. Brittany
    BrittanyReply
    March 31, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Hi Emma! Love this tutorial and very very excited to make this a spring project. I am a fashion designer looking to ‘expand’ into other mediums especially with an obsession for mermaids πŸ™‚ I was wondering if you could send me a bit more in detail the part about adhering your latex to the neoprene sleeve. Particularly, I am curious about how you seal the side seams. Some other tutorials say you can sew them together as well. I believe, and please correct me if Im mistaken, that you have two pulls, and use a thin layer of latex to attach them, however I was wondering if you just over lap both front and back at the side seams? or how this works, or if you have any other suggestions. Again, beautiful work! look forward to hearing from you! πŸ™‚

    • Emma
      March 31, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Hello Brittany! Emailing you right now. πŸ™‚

  19. Brittany
    BrittanyReply
    March 31, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Thank you so much for the excellent and informative reply! lets definitely keep in touch! πŸ™‚

    • Emma
      March 31, 2015 at 12:58 pm

      You are very welcome! I’m always happy to help!

  20. Nina
    April 13, 2015 at 11:51 am

    Hi there, Emma! I’ve been admiring your mermaid tail tutorial for a while now and I’ve had it in my bookmarks for a future costuming project. I finally have the chance to start on that project, and I’m wondering if it would be possible for you to send me the more detailed explanation that you sent Brittany, Jenna, etc.? I would greatly appreciate it! (And I’m looking forward to seeing your next mer creation~!)

    • Emma
      May 1, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Hello Nina!

      Sorry this took so long to get back to you, I’ll send something your way asap!

  21. Brittany
    BrittanyReply
    April 15, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Hi Emma, would you perhaps share with me a the more detailed tutorial you sent the others above? Im still researching a couple things like 1) do you make a neoprene sleeve big enough for both the leg section AND the monofin? and if they are separate, how are you connecting the two? Also, when making the mold, I love your idea of a cookie cutter! I was hoping to go in that direction. Im thinking to building a box and filling it with the hydrocal, but then at what point is it suitable to start stamping? And finally, if your using hyrdocal for the monofin mold as well, will the hydrocal pull away from the monofin without damaging it when set? Thank you so much in advance. Trying to put all the pieces together before attempting this. Again, love your tutorial!

  22. Brittany
    BrittanyReply
    April 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Emma,
    I don’t think my last post went through, so trying again πŸ™‚ I was wondering if you could send me a more detailed tutorial that you had sent to the other inquirers above. I still had a couple questions regarding how to set the monofin into the actual neoprene sleeve. I also love your cookie cutter mold Idea and was thinking of trying this first. Is the latex mold two separate molds for both the tail and fluke? or one whole one by the time your done? Im sure your tutorial would be of great help. Just want to get it right and do the most research possible before attempting this. Thank you in advance!

    • Brittany
      BrittanyReply
      April 15, 2015 at 12:49 pm

      I apologize for the doubled comments! lol computers can be annoying

  23. Jen
    JenReply
    May 1, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Do you have instructions on making a scale mold with clay instead of the foam sheet? Lovely work, btw!

    • Emma
      May 1, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      Hi Jen!

      If you wanted to do it with clay first, I would think it’ll actually be easier! Definitely use a pipe or a cookie cutter, and rolling the clay out with a rolling pin so that you know it’s the same width throughout. Everything else is the same!

  24. Julia
    JuliaReply
    June 15, 2015 at 12:23 am

    This is amazing! I have had it saved on one of my pinterest boards for the longest time and finally am gonna start the project. Like all the others above, could you send me an email on very detailed instructions of all the steps? I am a very crafty person but this one kinda got me confused, lol thanks so much!
    Julia

  25. Alicia
    AliciaReply
    August 28, 2015 at 7:03 am

    I hace 3 quesitos. The one Are the molds are as long as my legs ? The two How to Join the two parties, the you sew ? And the last. How Join the end of the tail, the big flap? Forgive me flor my English. I know it’s bad. I am spanish

    • Emma
      October 13, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      Hi Alicia! Yes the molds are as long as your legs, and I always suggest to make them just a little bit longer as well. To join them together, you actually just use more latex as glue! Same with the end of the tail. Latex is the best glue for latex. Hopefully that answers your questions!

  26. Alice
    AliceReply
    October 13, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Hello Emma! You are so talented! My mom works with your dad, and I would love to meet you sometime!! I am so interested in what you do! Unfortunately, I am only 12 so I don’t have enough money yet to buy one or buy the stuff to make one, but it would be such a cool opportunity to see how you make the tails! For 2 1/2 years I have wanted to buy a mermaid tail. Now that my mom told me about you I am so happy their is someone in my neighborhood that makes custom mermaid tails! 😊

    • Emma
      October 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Hi Alice! Thanks for getting in touch. I’m always happy to meet other people that love mermaids. Making a tail is definitely doable, even just a starter tail! Feel free to add me on Facebook at any time and I would be happy to walk you through it. I might have a little bit of extra material lying around too. πŸ˜‰

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