Where To Buy

 

Wondering where to purchase your first tail? Or perhaps a first tail for your child? Let us help guide you in the right directions. We also feel the need to strongly note that no one – child or adult should be swimming alone in any swimming equipment. Things happen fast and it is always best to have a swimming partner -or two- to help in case something goes wrong.

PSA to the merfolk community regarding silicone tails. It has come to my attention that a tail maker in Thailand “Fairy Tails Bangkok” has been shipping out dangerously low quality “silicone” tails. As a tail maker with 4 years experience I am going to share general information about silicone tails that should be known to an aspiring tail owner. Also I am going to do some myth busting below. I have been talking to a few clients of Fairy Tails Bangkok and reading comments on posts made by mers regarding their unfulfilled orders and have seen a lot of misinformation regarding silicone, Dragonskin, paint, and monofins etc etc… I would like to clear up some of the crafting process of making a silicone tail and hope it can shed light on how a quality tail should be made safely. I apologize, I have quoted some mers from the community without asking but with the intention my response will educate the community and we will all benefit in the end.
1. Regarding Dragonskin: The only company that makes Dragonskin is Smooth-On. (smooth-on.com). Dragonskin is a skin-safe, platinum, addition cure silicone designed for prosthetics and puppetry uses. When used properly it can handle daily use of being pulled, stretched, submerged in water, folded and squished without degrading. It has no smell and is non-toxic to people and the environment in its cured form. It’s the industry standard for quality mermaid tails*. As a tail maker using Smooth-On’s products it can cost me $800-$1000 in materials to make one tail. Across the water Smooth-On’s products would be even more expensive. A quality silicone tail should never cost under $1000.
2. Cure: What does cure mean? When silicone, resin, plastic, or paints have reached their inert form of fully dried this is called cured. When a maker receives their silicone it arrives in liquid form in two buckets. One marked “A” and one marked “B”. When equal parts are mixed together and the appropriate time has passed the dragonskin is considered cured. It is ready to be pulled out of the mold it was poured into and perform as it should. Uncured silicone will be gummy, loose, sticky and fail to keep the form it was cast in. Uncured silicone paint will be sticky and fail to adhere to what it was painted on to. When used properly, Dragonskin will cure just fine but there are a considerable amount of environmental and user-error variations which can inhibit cure, thus causing the materials to fail. An experienced tail maker will know how to navigate through these challenges successfully to ensure the finished product performs as it should.
3. Assumption: “Silicone tails are fragile” – False. Dragonskin is not fragile. It’s very tough and can handle the rigours of daily wear without seriously degrading for years. Other silicones designed for mold making for food or other materials or silicones designed for use in caulking applications are fragile when made into a tail, which is not what they are designed for.
4. Assumption: “there are different and cheaper brands than smoothon that make dragonskin. So he may be telling the truth. Most artists cut it with additives.” – False. Dragonskin doesn’t need to be cut or have anything added to it at all**. However the paint job is a different story, see point 5. There are countless silicone mold making products on the market around the world. There is really only one Dragonskin*.
5. The Paint Job: PsychoPaint, again a Smooth-On branded product, is the best silicone to use to paint a Dragonskin mermaid tail. It’s a platinum, addition cure silicone with extra chemical binders in it so it forms a strong bond to the Dragonskin it’s being applied to. PsychoPaint however will have solvent added to it so it can be airbrushed onto the Dragonskin tail. A quality tail maker will use NOVOCS or Naphtha, sometimes odorless mineral spirits as a solvent for PsychoPaint. These chemicals should evaporate out of the paint leaving no trace and keeping the tail non-toxic. Other solvents such as toluene, citrisolve or regular smelly mineral spirits will leave the tail stinking to high hell for weeks if used and are really not recommended due to their toxicity.
5. Assumption: “it’s normal for the tail to smell” – False. A tail shouldn’t smell like anything when it’s received from the maker. Dragonskin has no smell when cured. The maker should have used solvents in the paint job that evaporate without a remaining odor. In some cases the tail might have a faint vinegar odor but this could be just some parts were glued down with Sil-Poxy, another Smooth-On branded product. Sil-Poxy is a single component, skin safe, silicone adhesive that can be applied to fix small tears, fill small holes and do light repairs on a tail. It’s commonly used by most tail makers for touch ups and can be used by consumers to upkeep their tails. It can take a few days for the smell of Sil-Poxy to fully evaporate. If a tail continues to smell like chemicals weeks after receiving from the maker, this is a warning sign your tail might be toxic to you and your environment.
6. The Monofin: Mermaid tails are commonly made by encasing a professional fibreglass and rubber monofin inside the fluke to give the tail good propulsion. If a maker says they make their own monofin, this should set off warning bells***. It is worth asking as many questions as possible about their home made monofins as these can be very unstable and dangerous when they eventually break. A professional made monofin from a reputable company should be used such as Finis, Waterway, Leaderfins, Molachanovs, to name a few. These fiberglass or carbon-fibre monofins can withstand the strain of being encased in heavy silicone without snapping.
7. Who is a reputable tail maker? There are many, all with varying styles, wait times, experience and prices. Always read reviews and not just on their personal website, as negative reviews can be deleted. Don’t buy a tail through a middle man, its best to buy directly from the maker. Research on online forums and ask the community for their advice.
Foot Notes
*There is another company who makes a brand of platinum cure silicone which has been proven by other makers to work great for mermaid tails. PolyTek Corp (polytek.com) produces Plat-Sil Gel, a silicone with very close comparison to the performance of Dragonskin.
**There are chemicals that are sometimes used to change the nature of Dragonskin to make it perform a little differently depending on the makers personal application. These chemicals however are usually non-toxic and added in very low portions to slightly alter either the viscosity, pot-life, or cure time of the silicone.
***Mertailor makes their own silicone monofins which have been proven to be safe and durable. Some fabric tail makers make their own monofins with varying degrees of durability and performance. Its always worth reading reviews.
Mermaid Amatheia

 

Monofins

Fin Fun Monofins

Finis Swim Monofins

Mertailor Monofins

*A note about monofins – I do not recommend the following monofins for mermaid children –
Fantasy Fin Monofins, Finis Luna, Finis Mermaid Dream Fin, Aquarius Mermaid Fin, Mermaid Fin and Finis Competitors.

Tails

Beauty and Brine

Fin Fun

Finfolk Productions

Mertailor

 

Tops

Chic Creature Co

MerBay Studios

Mermaid Kariel

MerLife Creations

Merman Icarus

Sparkle Fish Creations

Crowns

A Glass Crown

Chelseas Flower Crowns

JUDYandMADELEINE

Armbands

Art of Angel SD

Extra Fins

Fancy Fish Fashions

Weight belts

Hippocampus Creations

Ears/Horns

 

Tanny Bunny Jewelry

The Green Sorceress

Tinkercast

 

Wigs/Hair Accessories

A Wrapping Mermaid

Jewelry

Ashley Kuko Creations

Bondberry

Caribbean Blue Jewels

Choochie Choo

 

Trinckets/Props

Bayou Mermaid Art

Accessories

Aconite Creations

Bali Mermaid Fashions

Chaoleh

Got To B Me