Creating a Mermaid for Cath
This mermaid has been one of our most challenging sculptures.
We’ve created several insects and garden nymphs thus far,
but nothing that even comes close to resembling a human.
Come join us as we create a mermaid for Cath.
For several weeks, we racked our brains
trying to think of what to use for her face.
Connie and I found a product called
Sculpey Mold Maker that we were anxious to try.
I have an oil lamp with a beautiful lady’s face on it,
with beautiful, long flowing hair.
The definition in her face was incredible.
It was just what we needed!!
Connie and I talked about what to do for a body.
Suddenly, I saw a light bulb go off in Connie’s mind.
She had another oil lamp that we could use for her body.
It was perfect!!!
The head of the lady on my oil lamp was too big
for the proportions of the body we were going to use though.
We picked up a couple of “harlequin” dolls.
They had porcelain heads and looks to be the right size for the body.
Connie took one of them apart.
Man oh Man did she have a long neck!
Connie said we could make it shorter with the dremel tool.
So she made her mark where she thought it should be.
She started up the dremel and began to cut,
and cut around that neck.
That worked great.
She was almost finished cutting it...
... when the head cracked!
We still had another one,
but figured it would do the same thing.
We both looked at the molding stuff
and Connie said,
let’s try and make the mold of the other one.
Connie put the mold maker stuff around the remaining porcelain face.
There just wasn't the "definition of features"
like the oil lamp lady head that I already had.
We were very disappointed in that effort.
We tinted the sculptey clay with a
beautiful green irridescent pigment powder.
Connie said, OK, I guess
I’ll have to make it myself from the clay.
So she kneaded the clay and
made herself a ball to work with.
She began molding the facial features into the clay.
I started digging through the beads
looking for something to use for her eyes.
In my mind’s eye,
I saw the small beads that
we used on Penelope’s necklace.
Remembering their iridescence,
Connie and I agreed
that they’d work perfectly
and look a bit “fishy”.
She didn’t have many features and
really looked very much like an alien
by the end of the day.
... so we put it into a zip loc bag
to work on another time.
Connie worked on it when I wasn’t there.
The feminine features were very hard
for Connie to create.
I watched Connie add on the ears and shape them perfectly,
define the eyebrows and the eyelashes, add on lips.
What was it that made a lady feminine?
She needed more fullness in the cheeks,
maybe not quite so pointy of a chin.
With each modification, it looked better,
but it still looked like a man.
I watched her pinch off
the whole bottom half of the face.
She said, That wasn’t “IT”.
She started over with that portion of her face.
Using the end of the handle of the carving tool,
she poked a ¼” hole into the mouth.
After 2 hours, the lips were feminine
and we were pleased with it.
We talked about what we’d need
to add to the head.
The clay needs to be baked
to harden and cure properly.
Once it’s baked, it’s
too late to add anything to it.
We poked a copper wire through her head
so I’d be able to add earrings on.
In order to make her an oil lamp,
we inserted a copper tube into her head
that would open into the bottle body.
We decided to make her a “skullcap”
and weld the hair to it.
She begins to form it to the head.
We know the hair will be welded to the cap, so everything has to fit perfectly now.
The skullcap is just about finished.
We cut wires for her hair.
We wanted her to have a full head of hair.
We folded them in half and
welded them to the cap.
We fitted the cap to the head and
poked the wires we’d baked into the clay
through the cap.
Then curled the wires to make little curls on her head.
It was impossible for me to hold things for Connie
while she was welding and take photos.
So... 2 more wires were inserted
to hold that skullcap on.
To attach the head permanently to the neck of the “body” bottle,
we wrapped a copper wire around the neck.
I took the head home and
baked it in the oven for 50 minutes on 275F.
We used a copper screen to make a bodice.
Cut out the screen to fit,
conformed it to her body.
Then folded a hem.
Making sure the bodice fits the body perfectly.
Once it fit, fresh water pearls were sewn around the hem
and the bodice was sewn together in the back with copper wire.
Here's a shot of the hair on the head.
Here are the little pin curls on her head
that hold the skull cap on.
I just love those little curls.
You can really see the iridescence in her eyes here also.
Connie cuts out the shape of the tail
that will fit around her hips.
Then hammers to give it shape.
The fit is nice and snug.
She cuts out a piece that
can be welded to the tail
to secure the bottle in place.
She's heating up that piece of copper
to make it easier to bend.
Here's Connie putting the 2 halves together
and making sure they will fit
so she can weld them with nice seams.
While Connie was busy working on the tail,
I was wire wrapping mother of pearl beads,
and shells, as arms to her copper bodice.
We made her hands and couldn't photograph any of this because
ALL of our hands were full of stuff.
Her arms and the shell she’s holding
are all mother of pearl.
We welded some wires to the end of her tail so it would look more "finnish".
We attached a copper tube
on the back of the tail to slip over
a garden stake of copper.
This way she can be "parked"
any place in the yard.
Connie gave her a professional “perm”
using a tube of copper as the "roller"
so she’d have beautiful ringlets all over her head.
She added mother of pearl beads to her hair.
Mermaid with her new hair-do!
After these first photos were taken,
we realized that her arms were just too long.
So we removed the center beads of her forearms.
Her necklace was made from freshwater pearls
and mother of pearl focal.
Her earrings are sterling silver fish
with freshwater pearls.
Her arms and the shell she’s holding
are all mother of pearl.
We tried to create her so that
her accessories would be something
that she might have found in the ocean.
Isn't she beautiful? She looks so serene.
Side view, before we changed her arms
Our mermaid is a working oil lamp.
Back of hair and upper body.
Would you look at all of those curls?
Looking at her from above.
She was a lot of fun to create.
We are very pleased with her and
appreciate the challenge that was given to us.
Our beautiful mermaid!
Thank you Cath!
Your mermaid will be swimming
to see you tomorrow!
Mermaid swims from Beaumont, Texas
to Pass Christian, Mississippi,
making record time.
She arrives on the beach after only 3 days.
Everybody came out to greet her and was
pleased that she'd finally arrived.
After that long swim,
she set up on her garden stake,
right there on the beach.
Mermaid, named UMA by Cath,
makes herself right at home
amongst other mermaids at Cath's house.
She's resting on her "land leg",
made by Cath's husband.
Closer shot of Mermaid
with others in Cath's collection.
Uma, the mermaid is the star attraction.
She loves being the life of the party
in amongst the birds of paradise.
Uma is hanging out with the crabs
at Cath's house.
Daytime photo of Uma in the Birds of Paradise.
She feels right at home there.
Close up of Uma, night time shot.
Good Night, Love, Uma