Today I'll be using this Catrine DeMew to make a Tokidoki Mermicorno inspired custom mermaid doll
I've been wanting to make a mermaid for a while now, but felt bad destroying a perfectly good doll's set of legs.
Luckily this brand new Catrine's leg popped off as soon as I deboxed her, so we have a volunteer.
First I'm going to switch the gloved hands with another Catrine I have so that my doll can have regular hands.
Next we're going to do something rather drastic.
I want to use Lagoona's face mold for this doll because the artists at Monster High sculpted her to look fish-like.
Naturally she's perfect for a mermaid.
So using my mannequin Lagoona, I'm going to remove both Catrine and Lagoona's heads and swap them around.
To make Lagoona's blue-gray face match the body, I'm busting out my brand new, fancy wancy airbrush.
I've only tested it a couple times since I received it, so this will be the first time using it on a custom doll.
After watching the excellent body color changing tutorials provided by Moonlight Jewel,
I begin slowly coating Lagoona's head in a white acrylic paint.
One layer at a time, letting it dry thoroughly in between coats.
Occasionally I would mess up and get too close or squeeze out too much pigment.
So I would wait for that to dry and then sand it down and try again
Eventually, after about four sessions, the head was the same white as Catrine's body.
To make her tail I'm going to break off the rest of the legs
by cutting off the plastic joint connecting them at the pelvis.
And with lots of twisting and cutting I was eventually able to remove that piece in the center, but it wasn't easy.
Referencing my concept and sketching a rough draft onto some newspaper,
I use the pelvis hole to add a loop of wire and extend the wire down to form the skeleton of the mermaid fin.
I want both the tail and fins to be poseable, so I twist the same piece of wire to form the armature
so that it will be nice and strong.
Forming the whole thing with one continuous piece of wire will make it stronger than trying to piece separate lengths together.
With the armature done, I decided to secure the pelvis joint with some epoxy sculpt to make sure the wire doesn't fall out.
To ensure the wire doesn't unravel itself, I decided to sew up a tight sleeve around the armature using some scrap fabric.
Might not be a necessary step, but I feel like it's keeping the wire in check.
Next we need to put some meat on those bones, if you will.
Using some leftover fluff from an acrylic yarn wig I made, I'm going to pat out the fin.
Very delicately I use a tissue to encompass the loose stuffing and pin it in place.
During this stage you can push around the fluff and repin the tissue until you achieve your desired shape.
Once it's close enough, take some embroidery thread and bind the tail.
I'm going to bind it very tightly around the tip of the tail so that it tapers more
and work my way up in a crissy-crossy fashion.
We're basically getting everything in place so the final fabric can encompass this mess.
So, as long as the shape is okay, it doesn't matter how ugly this part looks.
Before we can add that satisfying final layer though, we've got to make those fins.
Cutting rectangles of white linen, fold them in half and Elmer's glue the fabric to itself to form the fin.
You'll see I'm doing two fins at a time that are connected in the middle. That's for strength.
We don't want our fins sliding off the armature wire now do we?
Because I don't fully trust the glue, I'm also going to stitch the fabric on close to the wire.
I continue until all the fins are formed.
She kind of looks like a kite right now.
When the glue's dry I sketched the outline of the fins and cut them into a more frilly, thin-like shape.
If the fins try to pull apart, just re-glue them.
Using acrylic paint and an angled flat brush, I'm going to add color and design to the fins.
Adding some simple gradations from lighter to dark colors adds some depth to the paint job.
Eventually all the fins are done, both front and back.
Before I add the final layer of thin fabric, there's a few more mods I want to make to her body.
The fin is quite large around the hips, so to make the change from fish to human more natural
I'm going to bulk up her hip and booty area.
I do want my mermaid to be curvier than your average Monster High doll, so I'm also going to give her some, uh...
Enhancements up top as well.
Don't look kids!
Now we can put that final fabric layer on.
This is a scale pattern I drew up myself using Photoshop and sent to Design Your Fabric dot com.
They will print your original artwork onto a number of fabrics and ship it to your home!
This here is the 8-by-8 inch sample square printed on organic linen.
I made her tail exactly eight inches long so this should work out.
I want a piece in front and a piece in back with two side seams.
The trick will be working around the fins.
Using sticky tack to keep the loose fabric in place, I pin around the fin, trying to keep it even on both sides.
Now, if you're familiar with sewing, you'd know that it would be easy to run a stitch down this side seam,
and then turn the fabric.
However, to ensure the fabric clings as close as possible to the shape I want,
I'm going to stitch it all by hand right on the doll.
This means turning the edges of the fabric in on themselves to create a pretty finished exterior.
So, after carefully re-pinning the fabric to have a turned edge,
I very slowly begin hand sewing the pieces together.
I'm using a whipstitch to keep things flat, we don't want this seam to pucker out.
When you get to the fins, sew as close as you can and transition to the other side on the inside of the fabric
So that the thread is hidden. Now this doll is long and clunky so it was easier to film this part in my lap,
so excuse my pajama bottoms.
I turn the fabric at the tip of the fin as well and stitch this part very thoroughly
before working back up the other side of the fin.
Taking a pair of sharp thread scissors, I cut away the fabric at the top contouring it to her body,
so the transition will be less noticeable.
Using epoxy glue, I'm going to seal the fabric to the plastic body.
Now that the fabric is attached, I'm going to add epoxy sculpt one last time to accentuate the curves and mask the fabric's edge.
At last I can use the airbrush again to evenly paint the modifications to match the skin color.
After about four coats you can no longer tell what's epoxy and what's plastic. It worked really well.
With the body done I can finally set that aside and work on the head.
Using three beautiful nylon hair colors purchased from Dolly Hair dot com (listed below)
and a homemade re-root tool consisting of a drill chuck and a needle cut at an angle, the re-rooting begins.
My design has color in different spots around the head, so to make it easy for myself
I'm going to paint each part of the head with its designated hair color.
Looks pretty funny by itself.
I begin plugging in the hair one color at a time, working from the hairline inwards towards the part.
This red color is so intense it's blowing out the camera a little bit. No joke, it's about that bright in real life, too.
Once it's all in, I add a final row of thick plugs to the part of the hair.
To secure all that hair in place, take your flexible, waterproof glue - I'm using Fabri-Tac
and squeeze it in through the neck hole.
Feel around the exterior and press all the plugs inwards to meet the nozzle, assuring that you're gluing all of those loose plugs.
With all the stress of re-rooting and squishing the head, the face's paintjob held up remarkably well.
The tool did scratch off paint in a few places, so I'm going to patch those areas with a tiny paintbrush.
Time for the face!
With the hair swept up and protected, I give her a spray of Mr. Super Clear.
*Calming, peaceful music*