Friday, September 2, 2011

Mermaid Scales

And now for something completely different.

Laamberry is working on a mermaid tale. She took a lot of the lessons that other tail makers have learned, and applied them to her own project, with fantastic results. Here's a pic of the almost complete tail she is working on.

Here is the monofin that is going to go inside the tail. Yup, it's totally perfect for swimming.

As Laamberry was putting this together, I got to thinking about how she could apply techniques that *I* have learned over the years to make it even better. I also have an array of services and supplies at my disposal that she and the average mermaid tail maker might not have. I figured it was a good opportunity for me to contribute something to the effort.

I started off by calling on my pal Philip Wise, who has been mentioned on this blog many times before for his assistance with laser cutting and engraving. I did some thinking about how I could best reproduce a "scale" look, but on a large scale (no pun intended), while doing it quickly and inexpensively. Looking around online, and after watching Laamberry do her tail, what I've noticed is that the process is very time consuming, difficult to repeat properly, and also tends to be hard to get it just right. My goal in my projects like this is to get it repeatable, easy to do, quick, and pretty inexpensive. The idea is that if someone wants a tail like hers, or wants to buy some fabric so they can sew their own, it's just a few hours work in the garage with the right materials to crank it out.

So, with that said, I put together a plan in my head on how to make it work. I figured the best idea was to draw up a single, long strip of scales, have it laser cut, then repeat it. I put together a simple drawing in Illustrator very quickly, estimating what would look good as far as scale width. I sent that off to Philip, and a couple days later, these two long strips arrived.

I cut them into small segments, so I could test my idea about how they would look overlapped and glued together.

Here they are glued together.

And finally with some primer on it to hide the imperfections.

Overall, I'm IMMENSELY satisfied with the way this turned out. In fact, I think it came out better than expected, and my mind is reeling with possibilities for this pattern. Again, ideally this would end up as a fabric. My thought is that I will make a mold out of this shape, cast them up with a thin layer of urethane, then embed fabric in it. This is pretty much the exact same construction technique I perfected while working with my Superman Returns cape. All of the R&D has been done.

I think this would also make a great fabric for an Aquaman costume. Because urethane pigments are available in tons of colors, and even metallics, I think it could be really cool.

Next steps are to make a mold of this pattern, then pull out some fabric. I'd like to see how the fabric moves and sews. I may need to go with a thinner styrene, but right now, this is looking pretty darn good.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

this is soooooooo cool!!!!