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Saturday, October 19, 2013

My Merman: Version 2.0

Recently, I have been trying to teach myself how to make my own sideshow gaffs, primarily a Fiji Merman

I documented my first attempt HERE.

I wasn't very happy with this Merman.  He was two dark colored and his skin was too smooth.  His face was oddly featureless.   I decided to give making a merman another crack.  This time my budget was 25 cents.

I started by buying a rubber skeleton at a garage sale for 25 cents, blowing my entire budget.

Not My Image
I chopped the skeleton into pieces and used the ribcage as the base for the body.  I made a mixture of elmer's glue and brown paint.  I dipped crepe paper into the concoction and wrapped it around the rips to form the body.  I made some other modification and shaped the hip bones into a tail fin.  I used the skull to make the face, but the head was way to big so I the face off and wrapped in around a ball of toilet paper and covered it in the crepe paper.  I put to black pins into the eye sockets to make eyes.

Now the one thing that I DID like about my first merman was the hands, which were made out of the feet of a bird my cat killed.  My cat had killed another bird (public menace) and I was going to use the legs again to make the arms.

Unfortunately, my cat decided she was not down with the bird leg and tore it off the merman while I left it out to dry.

I had to improvise and fashioned some artificial arms out of some old bones and liquid nail.  I used the fingers of the skeleton to make the hands.

I finished off the merman by making a dorsal fin out of another bone and making fins out of a plastic bag (specifically the yellow bag they put around the corn at Long John Silver's).

And we have Merman 2.0

The arms turned out better then I thought, but I think the bird legs would have looked better.

The face is an improvement, but it looks too skeletal.  I should have probably put a couple extra layers of crepe paper on it.

Also, he's way to shiny.  I'm having a lot of trouble getting my merman the texture I want.  I want it to look like dried up flaky skin, but I can't figure out how to make paint look like that.  I was hoping the paper would create the effect, but there is still tow much gloss.   I would LOVE any of you craft happy people out there to help me map out Merman 3.0.

Thank you!

For some genuine, non crappy mermaids look HERE.

The Carpetbagger

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  1. I have no tips but I admire like heck that you're doing this!

  2. oh man, i love this project. i'm racking my brain trying to think of how you could make the skin more flaky looking. hmmmm...

  3. Thanks yall! Its a labor of love.....I think next time I am going to go for a "life size" merman

  4. Holy merman! This is amazing and a brilliant idea. I think I'll have to try too. I love the beseeching desperation in the left hand of merman #2.
    As for the skin... I've never tried to make fake dead skin but some ideas that come to mind are:
    1. Try some "Nu-Skin", find it in the first aid section. It's like fake skin for abrasions
    2. Single ply toilet paper. When doing fake blisters for disaster drills you can put TP over globs of Vaseline then add some black and red makeup.
    3. Distress him with some powdered charcoal then spray a matte , gloss free fixative on top
    These are my ideas, all untested just pulled out of my little head-so I can't say of they'd work for a merman

    1. Thank you for your help! I think the distressing idea is good, I think a problem with my merman is the color is too uniform

  5. Holy shit you are awesome. I want to hang out with a person who uses bird legs for merman arms. Btw I found this while looking at gaffs bc I wanted to make my own too. (forgive if double-post it's making me type this twice)

    1. Thank you much! I need to get back to working on my Mermen :)

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