Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Mizuko's Silicone Tail Project: Part 2

Mizuko's Silicone Tail Project: Part 2

So, its been almost 7 months since I wrote my Part 1, and that was just when I'd gone 'thats it- this is happening'. If you've been following my blog since then, you would've noticed little snapshots of the process throughout this time but I thought it would be good to go back and review it all from where I am now :)

In March I knew there would be multiple challenges facing me with making my own silicone tail- I'd done enough research to already be sure I was indeed over my head! Haha! But, I'm pretty stubborn and I dream BIG. (Its something I actually need to work on as a person, as it can be overwhelming for those close to me! Lol!) The biggest challenge was supplies and money. The best supplies were all from the US, and the money to actually purchase them and then ship to Australia was close on ridiculous-dollar.

I initially tried to overcome these challenges by saving. Uh uh. I just didn't earn enough, and around this same time my partner and I hit a pretty hard financial block. The money that was coming in was going straight back out again into living day-to-day. So I opened up a Pozible program- which is a crowdfunding platform. I'd hoped to maybe spark the interest of people around Australia about my project- and for the most part it did- but everyone was also in the same miserable financial issue as I was. I was so honoured when people DID donate- they were giving their hard earned cash to me so I could accomplish my dream. I cant thank them enough for their kindness.

Unfortunately, the Pozible program was not going to be successful. I hadn't ridden my hopes on it, because realisticly I knew it was asking a lot from strangers and friends. So I delved into art and business grants- spoke to a few people, got my name out there. But again, what I was asking for was VERY out of the ordinary! Funnily enough, had I still been living in my home town I probably WOULD have gotten an art grant, as country arts are a very encouraged here in Australia. But, I couldn't move back in with Mum and Dad just for that! Haha!

It was around this time, when my Pozible program was about three quarters of the way finished, and I'd been on the phone/through emails with grant organizers, that I decided if I really wanted this- if this was what I wanted to do with my business, my idenity, my life- then I had to sacrifice something.
I stared at my lolita wardrobe for almost a month contemplating.

Then one morning, I got up, looked at my wardrobe and thought with the upmost clarity:“It doesn't mean as much to me.” And I proceeded to sell my entire lolita wardrobe. 7 Years of a fashion, almost completely gone in 3 months. And you know what? I dont regret it for a second! :)

So now, I finally had the funds. I started collecting things I needed to start the whole tail-making process. To be honest, about half of the money from my wardrobe went toward my partner and I moving home and daily living for a few months- it helped ease the strain. The rest went toward my dream!

Using clay, I began making molds of my tail's fluke and extra fins. This took about two weeks of on-and-off work. This process should take the longest: what you make out of clay will ulitmately be exactly what the tail will look like in the end. So the longer I took on it, the more alterations I could make, the more I could look at it and go “yes, I am happy with this design”.

I started the molding tests just using fibre glass. My Dad makes surfboards, so if I had an issue he was only a phonecall away, and I followed all the safety precautions. (For goodness sake, follow ALL the safety precautions when working with anything. I probably shouldn't have to tell you- but being careless with poisonous/carrosive materials is pretty dumb). I was glad I did some tests, as using fibreglass alone was NOT going to work. I was annoyed, but I had a plan B (I'm a plan B kinda gal! Haha!)
Test mold in fibreglass. I made an Ariel bra shell to see how the mold would work.

So I splashed out and purchased some super expensive liquid plastic, which I knew was going to work but hadn't wanted to use because I was trying to find a cheaper alternative. The price comparison between the US and Australia for this product is exactly 4 times more in Australia :(
Anywhos, it was horrible to work with. I mean, it WORKED, but because the climate is so much warmer here, the liquid plastic cured a lot faster than it normally would have, which gave me only 3 minutes of working time. I fibreglassed the back of the molds for re-inforcement as they were curing, which worked really well for adding strength to them. And when I finally cleaned out all the clay from the mold, I was really relieved it had worked perfectly! XD
 Cleaning the fluke mold...
 Fluke mold 98% clean!
Some of the side-fin molds

I was now the (very proud) owner of some unique fluke and fin molds. But that really is just the start. It was on to the scales!

Making the scales took me literally two whole days. I spent all day Saturday and Sunday making them, as I used clay so I could get a unique design. Heating the clay to melting, pouring it into a thin layer, waiting for it to harden a little, cookie-cutting it out, and gently peeling the scale from the cutter and laying it in place... You can imagine how boring it was. Haha! But I was determined to do it. I sacrificed a lolita meet (granted, I had no lolita to wear) and a lunch with friends to do it! By the time Sunday night rolled by, I sat back at 10pm and looked at my finished work with pride. It was done!
Just a tiny bit of the entire scale mold!

I purchased more liquid plastic, this time feeling more confident with its use and excited about finishing my scale mold. We poured it onto the scales I'd meticulously created... only to discover it didn't cover all the scales: there wasn't enough. I quickly fibreglassed it, hoping maybe that would help. At that point, I wasn't too worried. Even if onlf half the scale mold worked, it would still be enough to make a tail with!
Scale mold, covered in drying fibreglass and resin...

The scale mold sat un-cleaned for a few nights. I was just relieved to be where I was and excited about the next step. My silicone had arrived, so I was ready to start pouring it into the molds. But when I began to clean my scale mold out... disaster. I dont know what happened. It was as if the liquid plastic- although perfectly capturing every detail on my fluke/fin molds down to my fingerprints- had not settled onto the scales properly. None of the details were captured, it was uneven, and worse of all: I couldn't salvage it...

I'm not normally a moper. But after this huge discovery, I fell into a big hole of self pity. I guess I'd put SO much of myself into the success of this project, that the failure of the scale mold was a huge blow to my self esteem. I spent about three days sulking, staring at the mold, wondering if I could fix it, wondering where I went wrong. Being angry and sad and stressed. All that money from that gallon of liquid plastic: wasted. What a failure I felt like!

But, like normal, after a few days my positivity kicked back in. I starred at my fluke molds and thought “you know what, this is actually looking great.” It was just a set back. A sucky, but totally ok setback. My determination flared again- I was going to finish this tail. I was going to accomplish this dream, no matter how many mistakes it took.

And currently, I am re-doing my scale mold. Its taking longer, as I'm only doing it weeknights. My 'deadline' which I had set for myself is now the 15th of December, my birthday. I'd really like to have it done by then, but we will see- the deadline has been changed QUITE a few times since starting this whole project! Haha!

I have poured my fluke/side fins in silicone. I am waiting to do the scale sheet before finishing painting them :)

I hope to have 'Part 3- the Final Installment' up around then :) And a beautiful completed tail to be proud of!

Please keep wishing me luck! :D


Monday, December 2, 2013

Adelaide Beauty Bloggers Conference 2013

Adelaide Beauty Bloggers Conference 2013!

Wow! What an awesome day this was! I unfortunately cannot make many of the Adelaide Beauty Blogger meets throughout the year- which really sucks, because the girls involved are so lovely and welcoming! But I made sure to purchase a ticket to the ABBC this year as soon as they were for sale; after how awesome last year was, I did not want to miss out!

This year was a theme I was really interested in: Beauty with a Conscience. This meant it focused on natural, cruelty-free products and nature! At the entrance we were and given cute little name-tags and a raffle ticket for the door prizes.

I was excited to find Christine from http://alyssiumbaby.com/ was attending for the first time! It was great to have a good friend to sit with- although Stephanie from http://jeneara.com/ was an organizer of the event so she was busy running the show! We were given a lovely little booklet which gave us the list of brands for the day, including: Guinot, Davroe, Natures Organics, People for plants and Couleur Caramel.

There was an awesome little wall where we could have outfit shots too!

The first talk of the day was by Guinot, a beautiful skin-care company from Paris. This is where they pulled the first door prize: the winner got to have a facial during the demonstration! Unfortunately the girl who won did not want to accept the prize (as she had to run off soon and needed her makeup on!) so the offer was thrown to the rest of us and Christine was lucky enough to get it!

I was a little jealous of how relaxed Christine looked! Haha!

In the meantime they handed around oils used in facials- we all spent the whole time sniffing the bottles and wiping it into our skin to see what it felt like!

There was a little morning tea- I had consumed most of the watermelon and a green tea before the break was over.

Next was Couleur Caramel and Love Organics- a natural makeup brand! This led into another competition: a makeup competition! We all had 5 minutes at two stations to do our make-up using Couleur Caramel's products, and then winners for most creative, most wearable and judge's favourite would be chosen. I removed my face make-up but left my eye make-up; I'd worked too hard on it that morning to take it off! Haha! But I put on some light concealer and powder, and a tiny bit of blush, and from there stood back and watched Christine finish hers. We both didn't enter the competition, but it was fun none-the-less to try out Couleur Caramel's makeup!

We had another competition- this time using QR Code readers on our phones. Under our chairs were a card with either a picture or the name of a product on it- and we had to find our counterparts amongst the attendees! Luckily for me, I found Kitty from http://misskittycharms.blogspot.com who was my team mate- and we proceeded to run around and scan the codes on our phones. The codes led to questions about beauty brands and natural products! I honestly believe without Kitty I would've been completely useless! Haha! But we WON! There was a big prize pack that we split between us, and rock-paper-sissored for the last bits, haha! I was really happy- I would've never won if not for Kitty! Thank you!! <3

Lunch was served! And I was so hungry I didn't take a photo of my burger... lol! Two Bit Villians catered the delicious lunch with home-made sodas and vegan burgers; and made a gluten-free one specially for myself and other intolerant bloggers! It was really yummy. I think I inhaled it.

With Celeste from http://becoming-beautiful.com/ <3

The last beauty demonstration of the day was the South Australian owned company Davore Haircare. Now, I wont get too into how much I am in love with these products, but lets just say I am never buying another haircare brand again. All natural, no parabens or silicones, and it SMELLS great! They did a demonstration and handed around some of their hair gels for us to play with. At the end they gave us all personalized hair consultations and free products for our hair types- I was blown away with their generosity. I was given an extra product: special shampoo for swimmers, which I have been using religiously since (smells like coconut, yum!). I will certainly write a full blog post just on how awesome this stuff is, seriously.

With Stephanie from http://jeneara.com/ <3

We had another little break, and following this we had a talk from a barrister regarding the legalities of blogging and internet protection. Its actually quite interesting how easy it is to get sued! Haha! But its also easy to avoid: dont steal photos, dont slander or defame people. The laws are there to help and protect- and if you dont follow them, perhaps you should get a good lawyer, haha!

Finally, the moment I had been waiting for arrived: CUPCAKES!
I havn't had a cupcake in over a year since being gluten-free. And thank my lucky stars, there were some gluten-free ones! I ate three and had to stop there because I would've eaten them all if no one was watching... haha! REALLLYYY delicious!
A cute photo with Sherry from http://sherrywoo.com/

Our last talk was with Christina from The Hungry Australian who talked us through photography! I have to admit, I am pretty awful at taking photos, even with a year of basic photography classes thanks to a Graphic Design course- so this was really helpful! I want to try and use her information to improve my photos for future things (even my selfies, haha!). We had a little contest right at the end, to take a photograph of a People for Plants product! I used a micro-look button on my camera to get this look, haha!

And suddenly, it was the end of the day! It went so fast and it was so much fun!

Thank you to all the organizers and sponsors who did such a wonderful job!

Cant wait for next year! <3

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Saying Goodbye

Hi everyone!
Its been a tough few weeks for me.
Some amazing things have happened- I attended the Adelaide Beauty Bloggers Conference again, I've been a special guest at a charity event, my tail is coming along nicely (despite a few setbacks) and the weather is warming up.

However, I lost a dear friend.
Yesterday we celebrated her life at her funeral- saying goodbye is never easy. It was a beautiful ceremony. We all wore something purple as it was her favourite colour.
She was one of the first mermaid-friends I ever made three years ago. She was always smiling and had a habit of giving gifts to people just because she enjoyed seeing them happy.
She's swimming through the stars now <3

I will get back to blogging again soon- there is lots to talk about- but for now I'm spending time getting my head straight and finishing these big projects.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hermit Crab-ing it Up

Yes, I am still here!
But, this is my life currently:
I have been avoiding any and all social situations where dressing up, looking cute, or spending money is concerned.
Its been a tough road!
But I've been concentrating on saving money and working on my tail.

This is generally what I've been doing with myself this last month:
Pretty sure I permanently smell like molding fumes now.

I DID get to be pretty on one day, though, for Fairy School with Miss Fairy!
 I was the special guest for the last-day party.
The children were adorable- but they are getting more bold with touching my tail, and I had to cry "Ouch!" a few times to stop them from picking at the scales!

Otherwise, I have no exciting news to talk about.

I feel everything will go back to semi-normality by next month. I've still got a few lens reviews and a wig review I need to post!!

Thanks for being so patient with my hermit-ness! <3

Monday, September 30, 2013

Splish Splash

Hello again!

So, I wouldn't call the last few weeks busy, but looking back it appears I actually got lots done!

Two weekends ago I finally did a photo shoot in my Princess Sakura cosplay!
This was me in the car... taking selfies. haha! This hairstyle makes me look really young!
And here are some photos:
 Rebecca Gray Photography was the awesome photographer behind the pictures!

I ordered some books from Amazon a while ago, and they finally arrived!
I got the last 4 Sailor Moon manga (sob, its sad to know thats the end!) a beautifully illustrated Little Mermaid book, and The Art of The Disney Princess- which is an art book full of beautiful renditions of the Disney Princesses by different artists and styles!

 I was also contacted by the local newspaper to do a quick photo shoot for my mermaid business!
 Taking photos of myself in the car. haha! My disguise so no one knows I'm a mermaid: a tracksuit! haha!
And here's the final picture! The shoot was lots of fun- an attracted quite a crowd of watchers! haha!
I also had an article written about me in The Adelaide Magazine. I feel very lucky to have all this attention lately! Maybe because its coming up to summer? haha!

I also made my first flower crown! I plan to make some more, maybe with shells, so I can wear them with my tail :)

And finally, yesterday the sun was out! So I headed down to the reef to go for a free dive. Luckily, there were another group of freedivers there who were really nice and offered me to join them!
Here we are (besides the person taking the photo) perched on a beam under the jetty:
Unfortunately, the wind made the waves very choppy and rough. It was a struggle to swim against the current, even with my monofin! And because it was rough, the water was very churned up. We couldn't see three feet in front of us! I actually almost hit the reef at one point, because it just appeared in front of me. I cut my hand on some barnacles and now I've got band aids wrapped around my fingers. haha!
But it was lots of fun, and I cant wait until summer, the water is always clearer and less rough then!

Update on my tail making: this weekend I aim to fiberglass the molds!! eep! I'm scared because I've never done it before, and I'm currently still trying to finish my scale mold. Wish me luck!

Thanks for reading! <3

Monday, September 9, 2013

Quiet Weeks, Little Update

Hiya lovelies!

 These last few weeks have been pretty boring- we had plans for BOTH weekends past, but lack of money and sickness destroyed them! I hope to make up for it in the coming weeks ^_^

Here are some random photos to keep my blog running! haha!
Spring means little fluffy caterpillars are out and about :3
Random shot, I half-assed straightened my hair a week ago, and was happy with how the length is going! :D Its longer than my boobs now!

That same day, I decided to wear my new circlet out. I got lots of stares- but lots of compliments! A few people said they hope circlets come in fashion! haha!

This is Scruffy, she is the pet of the owner of the house we have moved in to- she'll eventually leave to live with her owner again, but for now Mikey and I are looking after her!
As you can see, she is happy taking up the whole couch and leaving just the corner to me. haha!

I finally watched The Last Unicorn. And I loved it!! I think I should read the book, too, as it was such a good movie. I'd really love to cosplay Lady Amalthea- so she's on my 'to cosplay' list! :D

Spring brings pretty flowers!

And cherry blossoms! Yay! :D

Last Friday night I went out with some friends to farewell a local lolita who is moving back to Malaysia. It was a really fun night! We had dessert at a dessert bar! Unfortunately, I had to leave early because my bowels were being very unhappy >.< Lucky I did, because I spent the rest of the night on the toilet! D: I didn't know if it was my irritable bowel playing up (maybe I'd eaten some gluten by accident?!) or if I had a tummy bug.

Saturday I was still unwell, but I had to get out of the house to go vote in the Federal Election (which the results of I, and many people I know, are extremely unhappy about). The rest of the day was spent indoors feeling sorry for myself. Sunday I managed to get out of the house for a few hours, visiting the city to get my magazines (Ranzuki, Egg and Popteen) and also finding a pattern that I can alter for Lady Amalthea's dress! But I'm still not well- so I think maybe it is a tummy bug :(

I hope to get better soon!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Shopping and Swimming is My Not-So-Exciting Life!

Hiya lovelies!

As you all know, I have been selling off my lolita to fund my tail making project! I can say with happiness: I have now paid for and ordered 90% of the materials I need to make it!! YAY! I'm literally waiting on the silicone, then all I have to do is pick up some products from local stores- which is great, because ordering online makes the wait SO MUCH LONGER.

Besides this, having a little extra cash has been helpful for my shopping itch. Haha! All in preparation for summer (only one week left of Winter! yay!) but I did grab some jumpers to help with the colder days!
Its been online shopping, so I'm still waiting on some things...

Here are the things that have arrived:

First off, I did an order with a store on eBay. The store was located in China; they had an average positive rating, but their clothes were cheep so I was willing to risk it!
(Pictures taken from their eBay listings!)

 This dress is super pretty- soft and stretchy- but it's rather thin. I'd only wear it with a slip underneath or over some bathers!
 I'm actually wearing this now. Haha!
Its super soft- like, mohair soft, so its very warm and cosy. I'd like it a little longer, but as it is, it ends on my hips.
 This one was very cheep, but when it arrived I was happy with it! Thin, so only good for wearing over bathers or on a hot day, but its an over-sized fit so comfortable!
 I got a bracelet, in the white (C), this is rather cute and for $3, cant complain!
 I've been wanting some floral denim jeans for agessss!!
These are really really nice. The material is thick but stretchy! Too bad my legs aren't as skinny as the models, though, haha!

 I wore this on the weekend- its oversized and really warm. It came with a wet acrylic smell, but I aired it out overnight and it went away.
And, I couldn't resist getting this bracelet. It was only $3, but its just as pictured :)

I also got two things from Lookbook Store on eBay!
 Bustier!! The black was sold out, but I liked the floral one better.
Picture of it worn (haha, excuse the fish-lips!)
I also got this beautiful star-fish bracelet!! Its super pretty! ...but I broke it about 2 minutes after taking this photo. Haha! Its not exactly strong... but I'll glue it back together, because I do love it! ^_^

I also visited the Gilles Street Markets last Sunday! Unfortunately it was raining really bad, so most of the vendors didn't set up their stalls. I did manage to find 4 things (which I have totally not taken a photo of yet, sorry about that!); a floral jumper-dress, a floral short sleeved dress, a striped knitted jumper and a lovely hand-made leather bracelet!
I'll be making it to the next one again for sure! Hopefully next time it wont rain!!

Things I am still waiting on:

I did an order from Romwe, an online store from China. I'd seen a few blog-post regarding them, and was excited to see they had some cheep but really cute clothes! Unfortunately, after ordering from them I found wayyyy more negative reviews of them then I had anticipated. So, I got a bit nervous.
It took about two weeks after ordering for them to tell me it had shipped out. Their communication was good, so I'm hopeful everything will get to me ok!

 A white bustier with blue edging!
 This beautiful black and gold bustier <3
 A cute thunder-cloud skirt!
And this simple blue skirt!

I also ordered these bathers:
But apparently they are not in stock yet (which is kinda strange they would even put it online for sale?!) so they are going to send them to me next week when they arrive. I'll keep you all updated on the progress! :)

So, HotTopic is a American store that, until recently, I didn't realised shipped overseas. When I discovered they had done a huge range of clothing and accessories The Little Mermaid themed, I was wayyyy too excited! haha! And just my luck, the day I looked on their site, they had 20% off everything.
This super cute singlet!
 I love the artwork of this top!
 This design had come in a t-shirt, but it had sold out! (darnit!) but luckily they had the iPhone5 covers still available! :) This is probably my favourite artwork of Ariel I've seen so far!
And I couldn't resist getting this adorable dress!! :D

As for the whole ordering experience, if you are a first time overseas customer, you will be asked to ring up their customer service line to validate that you are the owner of the credit card (they only accept credit cards!) which can be a bit annoying- especially if you are in Australia and the times of day are opposite to the US! haha! I'm also dreading seeing my phone bill... But the customer service people are really nice, and once you've validated your identity, you dont have to do it again for future purchases. I'd also like to add, because they only have one shipping option, the shipping is expensive- so next time I order, I might see if some friends want to join in to split the shipping costs!


 Finally, Modcloth had a 70% off sale.
Had to get this dress! For under $20~
 I'd had my eye on this necklace for a while too.
And finally, this simple but cute dress!! Again, under $20!

Modcloth is awesome. Their shipping is cheep, and I've experienced great customer service from them!

And now for something completely different...

I tried out the panorama photograph on my iPhone! haha!
This was the Sunday morning before the markets- I went to Iron Clad Academy with Mikey. I think their armour looks pretty awesome all lined up like that! We've got to save up and get some for Mikey soon so he can compete.

And, some photos from a recent swim I had with Mikey! He kindly took some photos and some footage so I could update my Facebook page! haha!

And here is the finished video if you'd like to see:

I'm really excited about making my own tail- swimming in my Merbella's tail feels so wonderful! I can only imagine what it must feel like to know that you've made it yourself!

Anyway, that is all! Haha!
Thank you for reading! <3