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


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