How to Make a Latex Mermaid Tail
Making a 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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? 😉
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.