Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Rosegold Mermaid Tail

Swimmable tail #1 was a success!
While a fabric version is not my dream tail, it is good for practice. I will say that metallic spandex looks amazing on the monofin when it's in the water.
And I have photos!

I finally had the chance to take the first swim, in my first swimmable fabric tail(!) with the Mahina monofin.
No video unfortunately. This is yet another reason I want a GoPro camera, so badly! During the entire swim I was wishing that I could get some underwater video of how the fin and fabric dorsal moved through the water. From what I could see myself, it looked really nice and fluid. Even the glitter on the fabric stayed intact and gave a little shimmer.

It felt exhilarating to swim so fast with the monofin. It was pretty comfortable once I had it on and moving through the water.
I'm not sure I'll need any swim socks with it; no foot cramps or bruises on my feet, as a few others have experienced with some monofin designs.
The gold spandex fabric did fairly well, but was a bit see-through when wet. No biggie, since I was wearing a full bikini with it. It was just the turquoise color of my bathing suit bottoms showing through as darker. My next homemade tail will likely be neoprene (except it likes to float) or made from darker fabric.

There was a little drag when swimming, as fabric tails will have in water, but thanks to the suggestion of a long-time friend and fellow mermaid, I left a good portion of the fluke open at the bottom edge. This way water can flow through the fluke and over the monofin instead of catching in it like a bubble. I know now that I want to add more of the pink ankle/dorsal fins to the back foot pocket area of the fluke.
Overall, it flowed pretty smoothly.
I can tell I need to brush up on my extended underwater swimming, and possibly grab some of those near-invisible nose plugs for a few more dives (which I know some other 'mers' use occasionally). At least until I can retrain myself to keep the water out of my nose, heh!

No green/blonde hair either, thanks to Ion Swimmer's shampoo, conditioner and leave-in conditioner spray. I didn't want to wear my swim cap, so I prepped my hair with this collection during the week leading up to this pool swim.
Speaking of which; the pool was fairly shallow, about 4 1/2 ft. at its deepest. So I did a few handstands, waving my fin at a few kids hanging out in the pool area.
I overheard one little girl say to her mom with urgency, "Mommy LOOK! ...I wanna be a mermaid, too", then *splish* my fluke would disappear below the surface just before mom would turn to look. This hilariously happened a few times, as my friend documented from the poolside.
I'd surface to hear this little girl insisting that "No, really she's a MERMAID, loook!"

My friend and I were swimming at a hotel pool near Disneyland this weekend. We were there to attend the Halloween costumed event, and she was the Anna to my Elsa. The entire time at Disneyland we had kids coming up to us asking if we were the "real Anna and Elsa?!" Our replies were similar as those used while in mermaid form around kids; "We are as real as you are, don't you think?". And they'd just nod and give us big smiles.
So, getting the opportunity as a mermaid, to continue little random moments of enchantment for some of the kids, was really heartwarming.

Friday, October 31, 2014

My Dream Fins: Color & Inspiration Collage

This is a mish-mash of themes, imagery and color that will serve as the basis for my Viking inspired mermaid tail. It will hopefully be done in silicone by one of my two favorite tail makers; Finfolk Productions or Merbella Studios. I'd also like to create a first 'draft' in neoprene over the chilly holidays using my Mahina monofin,  water-appropriate paint and other gilding in the above color pallet. I want to make this tail design mine as soon as possible!

Using one of the fun little online make-your-own mermaid doll games, I designed something that is close to how I want the colors and spotted pattern arranged on the tail itself. It's not the exact tail or fin shapes I want, but it's a good reference point. As you can see, it's inspired by fish of the related Norwegian salmon and rainbow trout family, complete with their cute freckles which I've always loved. The Norwegian salmon theme is played up in the platinum silvery colors and hints of gold.

Hehe...and I kind of want this phone case.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Down Memory Lane

Just a random post between the cleaning up of the sewing area, and the sewing of my tail.
Some of you that grew up in the 1980s may remember these lovely ladies; Sea-Wees!

I had the TropiGals collection when I was about 5 years old. I remember seeing one with a girl at the park, and even though this was before Splash came out in theaters,  my obsession with mermaids had already taken hold.
My father had caught wind of this mermaid doll sighting. About a week later, I came home from Kindergarten to find all four of the mermaid sisters, sitting on my bed, nested with their companions in their little sponge lily pads.

 I continued to collect the various versions they came out with along the years, and still wish they would re-release them. I still have mine, and while I don't have the sponges anymore, I think I have most of the corresponding babies and pets.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Testing: The Fabric Version

Over the last few days I was able to track down some great swim-worthy fabrics for a first mermaid tail. At least the first since I was about 10, heh! Only this time, the materials will be much better....and there's an actual swim fin in there.

I'm still drawn toward a coral pink & silver with a hint of blue green for my dream tail. But that won't happen until I save my money for a silicone tail.
For now, I was looking for fabrics that will flow and look great in the water, without fraying into a tangled mess and have the right kind of content to hold fit in water. I found an amazing metallic gold swim spandex for the main body of the tail and to cover the monofin.
Initially I had considered using an aqua or light turquoise to pair with the gold, for the fins (dorsal, pectoral, extra fluke fins, etc). When I had brought it home, I had inadvertently laid it next to a pink shirt I have, and the colors looked fantastic together. So, that had changed my mind toward this:

The soft pink material is that weird sheer spandex knit, with a dotted pattern in pink glitter.
Depending on your monitor settings, it may look hot pink but it's actually a softer bubblegum color.
I know the glitter will come off eventually, but like I said; this is just my first test tail and the fins I cut from it wont unravel horribly.
While the fabrics are of a really good quality, they were so discounted I'm really not all that concerned about real longevity. I think the final price for the fabric alone ended up around $30.
The basic look I'm going for is a serpentine/beta fish hybrid. Something that will create a flowing line in the water.
I want to get it done before I leave for Disneyland next Thursday evening, because our hotel has a pool I can test all this out in!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sticks And Stones: Growing Up A Mermaid

Children are so often capable of a certain type of cruelty. It's a viciousness tinged with that innocence. Like lion cubs teething, they begin the gnawing. The awkward swats at each other's noses with over-sized paws they have yet to grow into.
As humans, we act out in a similar nature to organize a strange kind of pecking order.
Needless to say, I was picked on when I had so carelessly mentioned...that I was a mermaid.

It was 1987 and I was in 5th grade.
I was about 10 years old, when I'd let this morsel of thought slip out loud.
Already deemed an "odd kid" buy a few narrow-minded adults, I had a sharp philosophical streak and a tendency to wax poetic about life as I saw it, and how I felt as a person on the inside.
Other kids my age just didn't 'get it' and thought I was just weird.
Yet I'd get into deep discussions with teachers on life and the universe, my theories on how humans came to be on earth and the possibility of life in other galaxies. Like I said; I was an odd kid with a very scientific yet spiritual point of view. I was never, nor have I ever been of the crystal shard-wearing, tree-hugging hippie type, but man I could get pretty deep at times. Most of the time adults would just chalk that up to the lack of mental filter kids tend to exhibit. As you know, they just say whatever is on their mind.

Walking through the wooded area of the school playground with friends one afternoon, the discussion turned toward fantasy creatures and what our favorites were. What did we wish we could actually turn into if we had the power?
"a unicorn!" Melanie exclaimed.
"Well, I'd be a unicorn Pegasus", Kate countered.
"Mermaid", I said quietly over their innocent bickering over which was better. They stopped with their mouths still open.
"Yeah, I *am* a mermaid, actually." I said with more confidence as I chuckled to myself. It was that cheeky yet knowing self awareness of what my spirit totem was in life (for lack of a better term). These girls wouldn't  have grasped this concept until adulthood. At least I can hope they might have at some point in life.

So they guffawed at me, poked and prodded me with questions and comments. Then the insults and name-calling began. I tried to tell them my admitting to 'being a mermaid' wasn't meant as something literal. In my mind, there was deeper spiritual meaning of calling myself a mermaid, yet I had the bad habit of thinking out loud.
I swam all the time then, was nearly born at sea when my mom's water broke on our sailboat.
I felt the pull of the ocean in my bones when I'd get too far from it (still do). Being out of the water for more than 48 hours without a swim somewhere, felt unnatural to me.
The other kids my age thought I was a freak for calling myself a mermaid so confidently. But the worst part was when they began to use it as an insult. As if it were a filthy word.
"Mermaid!" they'd snarl at me during recess, in the lunch line, on the bus and in class. It had become their alternate word for 'Liar'.
It was too much for me to bear, and the taunting followed me all the way through middle school.

Either due to the regular harassment, teachers or counselors trying to tell me to "take is as a compliment", or changing tastes as I became a teen, my love of all things mermaid had begun to wain a bit.
Yet my love of the ocean did not, and a few years ago I discovered something that made it all come back.
There, via the internet, an entire community of people living their lives as mermaids and merman. These 'Mers' operate at varying levels, of course. There are the hobbyists and the entertainers, some of which delve into oceanic conservation and have made major names for themselves as the face of the modern mermaid community. I've seen ages range from 15 to those in their 60s, so far.

So I begin my journey back to the mermaid I've hidden away, and this picture is my way of giving the middle finger to all those who ever told me I couldn't, that I was a freak, that I was a liar.
Well guess what? My Mahina Merfin just arrived, do I look like I'm doubting myself?
I didn't think so.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Growing Restless

Just a pretty picture from the 1920s to help fill the time here, until I have more content to offer.
I'm still waiting on my monofin, which should arrive on Saturday afternoon.
Then I can really begin practicing and sharing my progress here.
Truth be told, I don't need that much practice, at least not in learning how to swim with bound feet. Throughout my life, I've swam with my feet together using a dolphin kick 99% of the time. It still feels strange to me to kick against the water with each foot doing separate kicks, and more natural to move through the water using them together. It just seems to make more sense.
So it shouldn't feel so strange to just have something to help that along further. The only difference is the strengthening the fin will give me as I practice with it, and I can concentrate on my form and movement.
I'm prepared for the sore muscles at first, and some minor lower back pain. Those muscles will be put to different uses than what my current routine gives them, and I'll be happy for the exercise. Plus, this will help me shed any excess weight I've been wanting off *before* I invest in, and take measurements for, that custom made silicone tail.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Name Search Update; A Possible Green Light

So, earlier I'd posted that I was waiting to hear back about the use of a name already used by a fellow mermaid.
It's a different spelling, and while I have not been able to contact her personally, the 'head mermaid' in her group has assured me that it's ok to use the name. She apparently is an occasional cosplayer/model for a tail-maker, and uses the name when she models for them.

Taking The Plunge

A 1933 issue of life magazine

Ever since I saw the movie Splash, the obsession with the sea, its amazing creatures and those mythical goddesses has never faded. My very first mermaid tail was made for me by mom when I was 6 or 7, right after I saw the movie Splash. We literally left the theater and went straight to the fabric store. The last tail I had was at about age 10, and neither of these were made for the water.
I had always planned on making one I could swim in, but life gets in the way as it so often does.
After many years, I'm finally embarking on the adventure of becoming a mermaid.
Below is a quote and a link from an an amazing article on today's growing number of mermaids, and the history behind it all: - "Neither Fish Nor Flesh"

"...all these mermaids reappearing may signal a shift not only for women but for gender roles generally. Slipping on a tail, and the mythic identity that comes with it, is sacred, powerful. It evokes the freedom of being beyond gender, for a moment, while at the same time tapping into a primal female power so rarely expressed. The undercurrent of the mermaid’s power, suppressed by Disney and other cultural forces, is returning, in all its ferocious, primal energy of transformation."

Currently residing in California for about 6 years, I grew up in Seattle near the water and spent a lot of time in and around the ocean. I have a connection with the sea that is unwavering, and was almost born on a sailboat while my mother was at the wheel. I had learned how to swim before I could walk, and while I don't get to swim as much as I'd like these days, I find myself yearning for the waves. Even a calm lake, a slow river... a cool blue swimming pool even makes me want to jump in.

This blog will document my journey and challenges of making a basic swimmable tail, strengthening, breath practice and exercise to be a strong swimmer again. Hair/skin/eye health will also be documented when swimming regularly, and my findings on how to combat any adverse effects of swimming with my eyes open underwater. Out of all this, the eyes will probably be my biggest challenge. I can always start off in goggles.
Last but not least, I will eventually acquire a more realistic silicone tail made by renowned tail-makers; Finfolk Productions. My goal for that is Spring of 2015.

What exactly will I do with my dream fins and this journey?
I plan to start this as a hobby, hitting conventions, swim gatherings and other gatherings of fellow mermaids. But I'd also like to do event entertainment & appearances and build a name for myself in the mermaid world. I'd love to participate in things such as festivals, side shows, modeling and representing the growing mermaid effort to help conserve ocean wildlife and habitat. Even the occasional children's party or event. My options are only as limited as I choose them to be.