Mermaid Aerial Princess Mermaid Top Reviews

For those of you who follow my blog for the aerial equipment info…I’m taking a bit of a side track and highjacking my blog for my Mermaid fans. I’ve developed a bit of a Mermaid Top collection (it’s really an obsession, at this point). I have tops from several big Mermaid brands (& some from lesser known designers). They range quite a bit in price and quality. In my reviews I’ll give insight into some of things I wish I knew before I purchased them.

Please click the links below to read my reviews:

#1 MerNation Silicone Scale Top

#2 Merthology Creations Silicone Seaweed Top

#3 Merthology Creations Silicone Shell Top

#4 Sirenalia Silicone Starfish Top

#5 Mertailor Silicone Scale Top

#6 Marine Magic Silicone Stingray Top

#7 Merbella Studios Silicone Ariel Top

#8 DIY Lions Paw Real Shell Top

#9 Mermaid Kariel Top of Art Silicone Scale Top

#10 FinFolk Silicone Mythic Top

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DYI Mermaid Tail Stands

DIY Instructions:
Mermaid Tail Stand

* This is what worked for me. I do not know how it will work with your tail as they are all different. Measure and make your own changes as needed. So far my tails have been fine on the stand but I do not know how they will hold if displayed long term. For now I am using these stands to dry my silicone/silicone hybrid tails after swimming in them.

Made out of wood and steel.


Measuring:

Step 1: Measure for the height of the stand. I measured from the foot pockets to the waist of my tails. Mine were around 4 feet. Initially I thought we could use a 3 foot (36″) piece (with the fork on top of that) but I forgot to factor in space needed to allow for air flow or a fan under the tail. So for me the 4 foot (48″) pipe worked best for me. To make it taller you could go to a 5 foot pipe but it will make the stand less stable.

Step 2: Measure the length of the foot pockets. Mine are about 9-10″ long. So the fork needed to be around that size. Initially I was trying for about a 12″ fork. But these are my final numbers that work are: Stand 1’s fork is 10″ & Stand 2’s fork is 9″ without padding.

Step 3: Measure the width of the foot pockets. Mertailor tail is wider at 9″ and MerNation tail is a lot more narrow at 6.5″. This made me have to have 2 different size forks (you can probably find a universal size that will work for several tails wanted 2 stands).


Tools:

  • Measuring tape
  • Drill
  • Pipe wrench (you don’t really need this but it is helpful if you really have to screw the fork tight to make it fit in your foot pockets or to un-screw the pipe if you make it too tight)
  • Cleaner/Acetone to remove pipe grease
  • Painting supplies: foam brush, paint brush, gloves, drop cloth, etc.
  • Wood stain & polyurethane sealant
  • Clear coat spray paint

Tools


Parts:

All the parts were purchased at Home Depot (Tampa, FL Jan 2018).

First Stand:
made for my Mertailor Spellbound Tail
(34 lbs, heavy fluke)

Since this tail is a bit heavier and more heavy in the fluke area with wider foot pockets I decided to go a bit beefier. I went with 3/4″ pipe and regular elbow pipes. I up-sized the floor flange to a 1″ because it has a wider footprint and it will be more stable on the base.

Pieces:

  • 1 Pine round 1″ x 23 3/4″ $10.35
  • 1 Galvanized steel pipe 3/4″ 48″ $16.38
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ x close nipple $1.68 each / $3.36
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ x 8″ nipple $5.33 each / $10.66
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ elbow $2.94 each / $5.88
  • 2 Galvanized steel 3/4″ cap $2.97 each / $5.94
  • 1 Galvanized steel 3/4 Tee $3.70
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ to 3/4″ Bushing $4.26
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ Floor Flange $13.20
  • Zinc sheet metal screws 14×1 (4 pack) $1.18

Total cost: $74.91 plus tax

Second Stand:
made for my MerNation Signature full silicone tail
(25 lbs, heavy body)

This tail is very narrow at the foot pockets. I had to downsize to 1/2″ pipe & use the “street” elbows that screw directly into the Tee. I couldn’t find a up-sizing (bushing) piece to go from 1/2″ to 1″. The 1/2″ Flange seemed very small to me but I compromised by using the 3/4″ Flange. It seems to be stable enough to hold up the lighter tail. I also couldn’t put metal caps on the top of the stand (they got caught on the silicone & didn’t fit very nice) so I used some plastic caps that were on the long pipe at Home Depot as a cap to keep the edges of the metal pipe from digging into the silicone while sliding the tail on the stand. Later I put padding over them.

Pieces:

  • 1 Pine round 1″ x 23 3/4″ $10.35
  • 1 Galvanized steel pipe 1/2″ 48″ $12.98
  • 2 Galvanized steel 1/2″ x 8″ nipple $4.26 each / $8.52
  • 2 Galvanized steel 1/2″ elbow “90deg street” $2.94 each / $5.88
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1/2″ Tee $2.94
  • 1 Galvanized steel 1″ to 3/4″ Bushing $3.18
  • 1 Galvanized steel 3/4″ Floor Flange $8.42
  • Zinc sheet metal screws 14×1 (4 pack) $1.18
  • Keep the 2 little red plastic caps that sometimes come on the pipe. (This will help protect the edges of the top of the fork they are free)
  • Something for padding (I used old socks) & tape (I used athletic tape)

Total cost: $53.75


Assembly:

Step 1: Screw the pieces together. See diagrams below.

Step 2: Measure the forks to make sure they will fit in the foot pockets. At this point I folded my tails down and carefully slid the forks into the tails to see if it fit. I needed to screw the elbows into the Tee on the First Stand a lot more than I thought I would. This was difficult and took a lot of muscle. (Just be prepared to put some elbow grease and leverage into it. My Fiancé brought me his pipe wrench to help.)

Step 3: Find the center of the wood base (use your measuring tape). Screw the Flange into the wood base using a drill. Screw the Bushing into the Flange.

Note: Now you have 2 pieces: the fork (It kinda looks like a Triton) & the base. You can store it separately like this when not in use.

Step 4: Screw the fork into the base.

Step 5: Add padding to the top of the fork.

I only did this on the Second stand (for my MerNation tail). I thought the 3/4″ caps on the First stand had a nice round surface area that wouldn’t dig into the foot pockets too much (if needed I’ll add padding later). I used 2 old socks and rolled them up so there were several layers covering the top of the stand. Then wrapped them with athletic tape.

NOTE: If you are going to seal the steal pipe with Rust-Oleum, add the padding after the paint is dry.

There are many different options for padding and I’m curious to see what you guys decide to use. My way isn’t likely to be permanent and I’ll probably have to redo it whenever the socks or tape come off.


Finishing:

The wood and steel need to be sealed (especially since water may be dripping from your tail as it dries). The wood may warp or do weird things. Eventually, the steel pipe will rust (it will take many many years…but eventually it will happen).

Step one: Stain wood and seal with polyurethane. Or paint with a water resilient paint.

Optional Step two: Clean the steel with Acetone to remove the grease from the pipes. Seal with a clear coat of paint. I used Rust-Oleum Clear Spray Paint. I didn’t want to use a colored paint because I was worried it would transfer onto my tails.


Final product:


Final thoughts:

When I put my tails onto the stands, I roll/fold them down so I can see the foot pockets. Then I lift (or attempt to lift) them onto the stand. Or you can keep the tail on a table with it folded over and lean the stand into the tail. Once you see the fork is in the foot pockets than lift the tail and stand upright. Be very careful with your tails so you’re not allowing the stand to poke into the silicone bodies and potentially making holes or weak points.

Note: My MerNation tail had been dry for almost a week (or so I thought)…Then when I put it onto the stand for the first time there was hidden water that had dripped from it. I realized how much I needed a new way to dry my tails. I hope these will help. This is also why you should seal the wood base…to protect from water damage.

There are concerns about monofins cracking or the weight of the silicone body pulling away from the fluke. Remember that each tail is made differently. They are connected differently. They weigh differently. I do not recommend leaving your tail hanging unobserved for too long. Please check for possible damage. I do not know how your tail will react with the long term use on the tail stand.

I would like to hear the good and bad experiences that you’ve had with tail stands. Please leave me a comment.


There are also several options to making tail stands. The above just what I have done. I didn’t come up with the idea on my own. I got the idea from a Pod member who posted a picture of an already made stand. Then I asked my Fiancé to help me make one. These are some of the pictures I used for reference. *Please let me know if these are your designs or pics and I will give you credit (or remove the photos, if you request). A lot of the popular tail stands are made with PVC and maybe a good and less expensive option for you.


Side note: I also attempted to hang my tail on the wall using guitar hooks. It worked well for about 3 months then one day as the tail shifted one of the hooks pulled out of the wall. The tail fell and one of the heel fins tore. Sooo, I decided that wasn’t the best option for me to dry or store my tails.

If you have a tail stand or you build a stand like mine, please send me a photo and/or post on Instagram and tag me (my IG mermaid site is MermaidAerialPrincess). I’d love to see how everyone else is doing it.

 

Update to Portable Aerial Rig Pulley System

If you are up to date with the rest of my Aerial Equipment blogs – Great! This is an update to the pulley system I use with my Ludwig Portable Aerial Rig. If you are just starting out please go back and read my other posts then come back here when you’re ready for more info about pulley systems.

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource to find the professionals.**

I was contacted by Peter Boulanger, the Artistic & Tech Director of The Underground Circus. I think you can see his comments in the comments section of my blog. I’m going to post his concerns and say that going forward please consider using tandem pulleys opposed to the double pulley in your system. Please read his attached documents and then read our comments from The Underground Circus Facebook post (I’m Amy, if you’re curious.) If you already use the double pulley beware of the rope abraiding while lifting heavy loads. Also keep an eye on the outside safety plates of the pulley for any deformation that may be tell tale signs to take the pulley out of service.

I have not seen this large of a twist in my setup  (I’m not lifting people with my pulleys just the equipment so I don’t see the abrasion of the rope at all) but I do understand that the twist is there and it is putting extreme pressure on the sides of that double pulley that it is not designed for. It would be awful to have something unexpected happen to that pulley in a drop…

Luckily I’ve been playing with different ways to set up pulleys and I have additional pulleys in my arsenal so I can swap out my double pulley without much pain. Ooh, speaking of pain…I did learn a valuable lesson the other day. I DO NOT recommend ever trying to take down the Ludwig rig (from full height) ALL BY YOURSELF. Although, I did get it down to a manageable height so I could swap out the pulleys it was not fun, pretty, or easy. There was a ton of swearing, straining, and a few “OMG what just happened!” moments as the rig started to topple to the side almost crushing into my house. (And that is a major conversation I never want to have with my insurance company bc as you know these rigs are about as coverageable as a trampoline in Florida…use at your own risk). Get someone to help you take that rig down. Learn from my mistake…plus you’re going to need someone’s help to put it back up again anyway.



Additionally, I said above that I’ve been playing with different pulley ideas. This is because I want to be able to use my new Aerial Animals Trapeze as a static trapeze but with the current system it only has one rigging point. Discussing it with my Fiancé he decided to make me a spreader bar with 3 rigging points and we’d use a complicated pulley system to make it work. Well … complicated is rarely the best way to do things and it did not work.

I don’t have many pics of it because I really wasn’t going to write about it…but here it is. The steel spreader bar being painted and getting ready for eyebolts. (The spreader bar is perfect but just not used with the pulley set up that I had in mind.)


I used one rope and 4 single pulleys. I could raise and lower it just using one side of the rope. It looked great.

It seemed to work ok at first if I pulled it up to the top. But it wasn’t real stable and wobbled back and forth and the pulleys would bump each other. Then the final “oh crap, this definitely isn’t going to work” moment was when I put the trapeze up. Even if I used span sets and pulled it to the top the trapeze rocked back and forth (side to side) as I shifted weight from one side to the other. It wasn’t fun…oh it could be worked with as a unique apparatus but it wasn’t at all what I wanted.

Finally, I’ve gone back to the original pulley system (until I change the double out for a tandem set up…). Plus a seperate system for the trapeze: a single pulley for each side. I cut a 100ft rope in half and knotted a loop to attach the trapeze. Then I level each side equally and tie it off on the cleats. So now I have 2 pulley systems on one rig…this only works if you have 5 eyebolts on the top and I have 4 tie off cleats (one on each leg). I choose to tie off the trapeze pulley to the opposite legs of the single-point pulley.

Any questions or comments?

Aerial Equipment Part 6: Portable Aerial Rig *1 Year Outdoor Review

**I am NOT an aerial instructor or rigger. I am NOT a professional. My ideas on safety may not be the same as yours or what a professional aerialist/rigger/instructor recommends. Please refer to a professional if you have questions. Facebook Safety in Aerial Arts Group is a great resource.**

It has been over a year since I purchased my Ludwig Aerial Rig. I still love it and I’m glad I have it. It has been kept up outdoors the entire time. Recently, I took it down and inspected it, then put it back up. I took photos of how it has weathered over the past year.

Ludwig Rig

Purchased and first installed February 2016.

Complete inspection March 2017.
(I do regular inspections of the legs, tie downs, rope, and climb to the top to visually and physically inspect pulleys and connections on every use.)

My biggest concern was to look for rusting on any of the welds on the rig and to make sure all the screws were tight on all connections on rig.

  • There was NO rust on any of the welds.
  • All screws on the legs pieces were still screwed down. There was one screw on the header leg that was not super tight but it was still secure. All quick connects (the buttons) were in place and secure. The header eye bolts were tight (unmovable) and free of rust.
  • There was some surface rust on the inside of the tube of the header and on parts of the legs that were inside the other pieces of leg. There was not not a huge amount of rust. I will continue to monitor it.
    Note: My Fiancé used some grease on the connection legs to reduce friction and be another barrier to prevent rusting (likely not needed but he wanted to do it).
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One year: Surface rust on the leg beam where it was inside of other beam.

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One year: Surface rust on inside of header beam.

  • The area with the most rust were the tie down cleats. These are untreated steel and get wet almost daily from our sprinkler system. I cleaned them with Navel Jelly (soaked them for 15 minutes then scrubbed them off with a green scrubber, did this 4 more times-soaking for 15-25 minute intervals & then scrubbed them before they were clear of the rust.) Then I sprayed them with Rustoleom Clear Primer to slow down future rust.
    Note: I also ordered a brand new set just to have available, if needed. 

Before and after: Tie off cleats.

Soaking cleats in Navel Jelly.

One year: Rust on leg from cleat.

Pulley System

I decided I was going to change out all the hardware on the pulley system when I took down the rig for inspection. I did this for 2 reasons:

  • I was concerned about weathering of the pulleys, carabiner, quicklinks, and rope. The labeling on the carabiner & pulleys say: “For intense use the pulley should be replaced every 12 months, for normal use the pulley should be replaced every 24 months.” I was not intensely using it. (I consider something like zip line use all day long to be intense use. I was only using it to pull aerial equipment up one or twice a week and on the equipment for a few hours at a time.)
    img_2177

    Pulley labeling.

    But I wasn’t completely comfortable with leaving them out in the elements (sun, wind, and rain) all year and not taken them down for cleaning/thorough inspection.
    AND on my regular inspections, I’d noticed that the top carabiner had some rust on it that concerned me…

  • Aesthetic purposes: I found that Fusion Climbing had come out with all black pulleys. I like that look so much more than the Blue/purple/orange pulleys and the price wasn’t much different on Amazon.
    Note: I confirmed with Fusion Climbing that the Amazon “Shop For Lifestyle” fulfillment company was a licensed distributor. Fusion Climbing also sent me additional information about the pulleys so I was able to confirm the packaging & product was legit.)
    Fusion Matte Black Pulley Flier

    I purchased a new all black rope. The old rope had a yellow stripe in it that I didn’t really care for.

I adore having the pulley system because it is so easy to switch out apparatuses and to take down and store equipment. But it is definitely a piece that requires more inspection and maintenance than if I didn’t have it. That is something to consider when putting together a portable aerial rig system.

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One year: Eyebolts, side pulley and quick links.

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One year: Middle eyebolt, carabiner, and double pulley. Note the rust on the carabiner.

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One year: Side eyebolt, quick links, and pulley. Note how the top quick link doesn’t look like its all the way tightened.

During my big inspection I was curious to how they weathered. This is what I found:

  • The quick links weathered phenomenally. No rust. No damage. I noticed that one wasn’t fully screwed tight. It was closed and the threads engaged but just not fully tight. See above photo.
  • Pulleys
    • The pulley’s color (blue, purple, orange) had faded from the sun.

      One year: Paint color faded.

      One year: Paint color faded.

    • The spinning mechanism did not stick at all. All of the pulleys moved freely. Only slightly less freely than the brand new pulleys.
      fullsizerender 26

      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

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      New and one year old pulley: side by side.

    •  

      The only rust on the pulleys was a small amount on part you clip into where it was being rubbed metal on metal. Other than that the pulleys were very clean after being left up outside all year.

      fullsizerender 47

      One year: Small amount of rust and wear.

    • I cleaned, dried, then lubed/oiled the old pulleys with silicone oil. They now run smooth as ever. I bagged them and will store them for later use.
img_1902

Silicone oil. Bought off of Amazon.

  • Top carabiner = Rusted.
    • This was the piece I was most worried about. It was the most ugly. I had noticed it getting rusty about 2 months prior to taking down the rig but did not realize it was as bad as it was until it was off and in my hands. The shine had disappeared. There was visible rust. However, the triple locking mechanism worked fine and was not fused shut and it opened and closed fine.
    • I cleaned it up and lubricated it with graphite. Then I did some research. I found that this rusting is called “Surface Oxidation.”  It is a steel carabiner and they are plated finish to prevent this. After time that coating wears off and they do begin to rust. See last paragraph of this link to Fusion’s Carabiner Information.
    • I’m keeping it for minimal use (I.e. I used it when rigging for an underwater photoshoot.). I think it is fine to use but it is kind of ugly so it won’t be used every day.
      Note: I was also informed that I could use clear nail polish to protect it.
    • I initially replaced it in the pulley system with the same type of steel carabiner because that’s what I had on hand. I have now changed my pulley configuration and have a Maillon Rapide Quick Link 10mm to take its place.
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      New and one year old carabiner.

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      One year: Wear on carabiner.

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      One year: Rust on carabiner.

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      One year: Wear & rust on carabiner.

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      One year: Carabiner after cleaning and oil.

  • Rope.
    • The old rope is still in excellent shape. There is no deformities, breaks, bends, kinks, or abrasions to the outside sheath.
    • It does feel slightly stiffer than the new rope but I think with a wash it will be back to normal.
    • I did research on climbing ropes. Here is an “How to inspect a climbing rope” guide.
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One year: Rope.

Final Thoughts

First question:

I have heard people ask if they can keep their rig up year-round.

My opinion:

For the Ludwig rig in Florida is YES

  • BUT make sure you are constantly inspecting it for wear, rust, screws that are loosening, etc.
  • Ludwig has also commented that he has kept a rig up year round in Colorado and it has not had issues. If you have more questions, I refer you back to the makers of the rigs. Please read all the info on his website about his rig. Ludwig Rig
  • There is also a lot of information on the Safety in Aerial Group on Facebook. Please join and use the search function to look up questions. (Outdoor, aerial rig, portable, pulley, free standing = these are good places to start.)

Second question:

Can the pulley system be kept up year round?

My opinion:

For my pulley system in Florida is also YES with a few considerations.

  • Think about how much use and weathering the pulleys and the rope are taking. My rig was used only by myself for a few hours once or twice a week (so not that much use). You may want to change out parts or the entire system once a year or do a complete inspection/cleaning of the system and evaluate replacing the system (at least once a year).
  • I feel like with cleaning and lubrication of the pulleys and cleaning of the rope I could continue to use the old system. I have changed out my system for aesthetic reasons not purely because I needed to retire the other system.

Note my shed that holds all my mats and other aerial and circus equipment.

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Mermaid Top Review 10: FinFolk Mythic Silicone Top

Top #10 Finfolk Mythic Silicone Top

Choose size and mythic color.

Price:

Part of a 2017 Black Friday Sale.

Top $250 + Shipping $9.26 = Total $259.26

Production Time:

  • Purchased 11/24/17
  • Shipping label made 4/12/18
  • Shipped 4/23/18
  • Delivered in Tampa, FL USA 4/25/18

Customer Service:

I truly want to say good things about the Customer Service for FinFolk. I adore the look of their silicone tails and their Mythic tails are very unique. I had also met Abby and Bryn in person at their Jan 2018 Disney Meet Up. They were so sweet and open and willing to talk about their products. We even discussed this top and the timeframe to make/receive it (I unfortunately received misinformation at that time.)

I am disappointed with the amount of time it took to get the top and the communication I had from the FinFolk Team.

When I purchased the top I was under the impression that they were pre-made and just needed the “Mythic” color choice before they would be painted and shipped out. I ordered the top from the FinFolk website. (From what I can tell none of that was true & none of the tops are pre-made prior to their sale.) At the time they only offered one of each size and some were already sold. I felt lucky and excited when I checked the site (it was a while after they had been posted for sale) that my size was still “In Stock” and I made the purchase.

This isn’t a custom top. The only choice I made in it was the Mythic color choice. I choose Gold because I wanted a neutral color.

It took 5 months for me to receive the top and that was after talking to them in person at Disney Jan 2018 (I was told it would be finished that month), sending an email 6 weeks later, sending another email 5 weeks after that and finally posting on the FinFolk Pod Facebook page. I will say that I did receive correspondence to all of my emails but they always were vague saying it should be finished that month or that they were working on it. I never received updates when it kept getting delayed and delayed.

In response to my final email final email, (I’d received a shipping notification and kept checking the tracking number as I had a photoshoot that week so I was hoping for the top to arrive before the shoot. It kept saying “pre-shipment” like they hadn’t brought it to the post office yet for over a week.) They gave some reasons for the delays:

1. Shipping: “we wait until we have a good number of tops, scale orders, etc. to ship before taking them all to their designated shipping provider to make the trip as productive as possible.”

2. The wait: “There were a lot of unexpected delays this winter– moving into a new space, plagued by horrible weather that gave us 1 good painting day out of 10, and quite a few other behind the scenes things, and we openly admit that the tops were delayed a lot longer than we anticipated and while some tops were delivered by the deadline and by March, others were not and for that, we’re extremely sorry.”

Quality/Durability:

The top is gorgeous!! The silicone base is soft yet supportive. The nude bra base has soft fabric. The shimmer and irredecence of the gold paint scheme is gorgeous. It seems to match all of my tails and pics up a bit of the color around it.

Unfortunately, the durability of the top is a bit lacking. I’ve only wore it one day swimming in the Florida Springs and already 2 of the silicone side fins have came unglued and are flopping all willy nilly. I know it’s an easy fix but it’s just not one I expected after just one day of wearing the top.

Also, as I was inspecting the fins I noticed that one fin is a white base instead of a gold base. There is a slight difference in color on that one fin but it’s only noticeable if you look very closely. It’s just an interesting note.

Fit/Comfort:

It can be worn strapless but it came with nude bra straps in a little bag. A photograph friend warned me prior that she had shot several mermaids in this design of a top and they have a tendency to flop over so she suggested always wearing straps with it. I did put straps on and it does flop over when swimming. I need to tighten my straps more or I need to add permanent ones to keep it up. I ruined several pictures and videos by grabbing at the top to put it back in place.

I have only wore it once but I wore it all day and went in and out of the water several times that day. I swam fast, dove deep and just lounged around in it. The top fits me well. It’s not too tight, in fact the cups are probably just a bit too large, but it is very comfortable. I plan on wearing this top very often because how comfortable it is.

Pros:

  • Beautiful
  • Photographs gorgeously
  • Very comfortable
  • The color matches almost everything

Cons:

  • Customer Service was lacking. No communication when it was delayed.
  • It took a LONG time to receive the top.
  • It tends to flop over when swimming or ascending quickly.
  • After one day the side fins are already came unglued

Lessons learned:

  • I was very worried and intimidated about possibly offending FinFolk by voicing my frustration. I thought I might eventually want a full silicone tail from them or maybe a Mythic sometime down the road and I didn’t want my new relationship with them tarnished. I felt I needed to get somewhat forceful with my emails and Facebook communication to let them know how frustrated I was getting waiting for the top. It wasn’t until I did this that I started getting a response I wanted from them and finally received the top. I’m not sure how long it would have taken if I didn’t reach out to them to keep reminding them that I still hadn’t received it.
  • As much as I love how this top looks and feels…I’m now uncertain about how much business I want to give FinFolk. (Although if I did get a full silicone tail from them…I’d definitely want a matching top 😄.)

Mermaid Top Review 9: Mermaid Kariel Silicone Malia Scale Top of Art

Top #9 Mermaid Kariel Silicone Malia Scale Top of Art

Purchased pre-owned. Made to match a Sequin Tail of Art

Price:

Came with pre-owned tail purchase

Customer Service:

I purchased a pre-owned Sequin Tail of Art. This top was made for the original buyer of the tail. She wanted it to stay with the tail. The purchase was very easy. We communicated on Facebook. Then over the phone and text messages.

Mermaid Kariel reached out to me after my purchase and told me I could come to her with any questions or concerns. So far I haven’t had any.

Quality/Durability:

This top by Mermaid Kariel was made 3-4 years ago (2014?). I’m not sure how much the previous mermaid wore it but it has held up very well. The silicone is super soft and pliable. Each Malia style scale is individually crafted and then pieced together with silicone. There is a gorgeous white sparkly silicone shell in the center.

When I received it, I looked it over very carefully and saw a few places that the edges of the silicone scales were fraying or tearing. The silicone is very thin on certain scales, I choose to do a bit of doctoring with some silpoxy. I just added some to the back to give the scales some more support. I also put some more silpoxy under the silicone shell where there was a bit of a gap between the scales and the shell and clamped it down to dry.

Quality of this top is simply amazing! Mermaid Kariel was certainly clever about how she decided to make the top. The scales are somewhat white & translucent with a bit of lavender highlights and gold sparkle through them. BUT she placed them on hot pink bikini base so the way they are placed allows the fabric base shows through the scales and gives them a pink glow. The effect is simply amazing.

Fit/Comfort:

The bra base is a hot pink Victoria’s Secret strapless bikini. It is a 36DD and I’m about a 36B/C. I wasn’t sure it was going to fit but when I put it on it formed to my shape very nicely. It doesn’t squeeze me like some of my other silicone tops. I would wear this top all day long if I could.

As I swam around in the water (strapless) it stayed in place very well. Only once when I was at the bottom of the pool and pushed my way to the surface really fast did the top slip. That is no problem. Now that I know it does that I will be a graceful swimming mermaid and not make sudden movements in the top.

I’m also thinking about attaching a nude silicone halter strap to the top to hold it up better for me.

Pros:

  • Clever design
  • So much sparkle and glitter
  • Very comfortable

Cons:

  • I love this top. The only con is that the scales are thin and soft. As the top ages they are tearing and tattering a bit.
  • It didn’t come with straps & it’s a bit too large for me so if I swim with a lot of thrust it will slide down.

Lessons learned:

  • I can fit into a DD cup!! LOL 😂
  • I’m getting more comfortable working with silpoxy to do small fixes.
  • I hope someday Mermaid Kariel makes more tops and I can get another one.

Mermaid Top Review 8: DIY Lion’s Paw Real Shell Top

Top #8 DIY Lion’s Paw Real Shell Top

Shells and rhinestones attached to bra base by me.

Price:

Lions Paw shells from Amazon. 5-5 1/2 inches. *Cost around $12 for both shells.

Bra base from Amazon. *I bought a Warners Woman’s Easy Does It Wire Free Bra (super comfy!) for around $15.

Shells, rhinestone, flatback pearls from Michaels.

Production Time:

  • This was my first mermaid top that I made while waiting for my MerNation silicone tail to be made.
  • It took a few days of continuous work to make. Then another day or two to fix after my first swim.

How to/DIY:

I attached the shells to the top with e6000 glue. Use in a well ventilated area as this glue is harmful when the fumes are inhaled. I had a mannequin that I put the bra on then glued the shells in place and set a ziplock bag filled with water on top to weigh it down and hold the shell in place while the glue dried. I did one shell at a time over 2 days.

Then I added flat back pearls and rhinestones on the shells and on the top. I used a few different tops I’d found on Pinterest as inspiration. The rhinestones were cheap plastic from Michael’s and the e6000 melted the backing off of them so I used GemTac to attach them to the bra. For pearls and shells I used e6000. The easiest way to attach the rhinestones is to put the glue into syringes and make dots of glue then either pick up the gems with a tweezers or a wax tip jewel setter.

Quality/Durability:

I wore this top for a day-long photoshoot in the Flordia Springs. The shells are securely attached to the top but after swimming in the water for several hours the Gemtac on the rhinestones loosened and when I was taking off my top I noticed a lot of the rhinestones were loose and could be peeled off. They did not come off in the water and the ones I didn’t pull off dried securely on again. The jewels that were attached with e6000 stayed on and didn’t budge.

Afterwards, I gathered up the rhinestones that had come off and reassessed the top. I used e6000 to put more shells around the top and put some of the rhinestones back on.

Now this top is used ONLY for dry events. The rhinestones still sometimes fall off just due to the age of the top.

Fit/Comfort:

I choose a full coverage bra that I knew fit me. This top is very comfortable and fits very well. The shells are a bit heavy so that’s something to concider when choosing a bra base.

The Lions Paw shells do come a bit below the bottom edge of the bra and dig into my skin. I’ve been meaning to take my dremmel and sand down the edges so it is more comfortable.

Upkeep:

The rhinestones do periodically fall off and require upkeep. I keep a sandwich size ziplock bag with me and put the fallen soldiers in it when I can and use e6000 to reattach as needed

Pros:

  • Satisfaction of making your own top
  • Customized to exactly what you want
  • Cost efficient

Cons:

  • Time consuming to make
  • Real lion Paw shells are very heavy
  • Rhinestones fall off easily when applied with GemTac

Lessons learned:

  • E6000 works great to attach large shells to a bra.
  • E6000 needs to be used in a well ventilated area. Be careful not to breath in the fumes
  • Gemtac is only good for tops not worn in water. They start to become unglued after a few hours of being submerged in water.
  • E6000 can distort the foil backing on cheap rhinestones.

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Mermaid Top Review 7: Merbella Silicone Ariel Top

Top #7 Merbella Silicone Ariel Top

Custom made.

Price:

$295.00 + $12.21 shipping = Total $307.21

Production Time:

  • Purchased 12/6/17
  • Email received with finished photo 2/17/18
  • Shipped 2/23/18
  • Delivered in Tampa, FL USA 2/27/18

Customer Service:

I responded to an announcement on Merbella’s Facebook page that she was accepting a few top commissions. I asked if she could make an embellished Ariel shell silicone top to match my Mertailor Spellbound tail. I received an email back saying she could with quote with the price.

I paid the invoice and gave some suggestions about what I wanted and a photo of the tail. Then waited. It took less than 3 months for Merbella to make and ship my new top.

I received and email with a final finished photo. Then received an address confirmation email. Merbella’s studio is located about 30 minutes I offered to come pick it up but they sent a tracking number right away. However, it took a few days for USPS to pick it up & scan it. It took a full week for the top to be delivered. I wish I could have just picked it up instead of waiting & stalking my post man every day for a week until it arrived. * I’ve learned that Merbella rarely (if ever) allows pick up but meeting locally for delivery is possible.

Quality/Durability:

The Ariel Shells are constructed with a very thick silicone. They are attached to a nude bra that is very soft and comfortable. It has black fishnet halter straps that have been cut to look tattered. The fishnet is a high quality and thick netting.

The paint is well done. I sort of would have liked to see a little more detailing around the contouring of the silver parts of the shells. I’m also a bit afraid of how the paint will hold up with wear. It looks like it could easily peal or be scratched. (NOTE: After 8 months of owning it and a few photoshoots later, the paint has held up beautifully! And now I love the paint job. It’s like the longer I have it the more I realize how perfect it is for me.)

It has several gorgeous embellishments. In the center is a silver star and there is a large pink tear drop crystal and several pearls and rhinestones. All well sewn onto the bra base. It also has plastic seaweed sewn along the bottom of front of the top.

One of my favorite parts are the silver scales that go along the sides of the top. These small details bring the top together as a true piece of art.

I have wore this only a handful of times for photoshoots both on land and in the water. These photoshoots lasted several hours and the top has held up very well.

Fit/Comfort:

The bra base is very soft and comfortable. The top has Seaweed embellishments on the bottom of the cup that initially were very painful and dug into my skin. I had to twist and move them around so they would lay outwards instead of inwards. Now it fits much better. I’ve also since lost some weight and the top fits A LOT better.

It fits just like a normal push-up bra. I am a 36B and this give fair/medium coverage with some cleavage.

Pros:

  • Gorgeous paint job. Looks like mermaid armor.
  • A lot of beautiful details in the workmanship
  • Unique one of a kind top

Cons:

  • I feel it’s a bit overpriced and it has a lot less detail then some of her other tops.
  • I’m worried about possible ruining it or it loosing some of the rhinestones. (This has not happened at all.)
  • Initially, it doesn’t fit me as well as I’d like but after I lost some weight it fits perfectly.

Lessons learned:

  • I wish I would have specifically asked for more silicone embellishments and no seaweed.
  • I LOVE Merbella tops!
  • I have very sensitive skin especially to plastic seaweed that comes into contact with my skin.

Unboxing

Photo from Merbella

Photo from Merbella

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Mermaid Top Review 6: Marine Magic Silicone Stingray Top

Top #6 Marine Magic Silicone Stingray Top

Custom made.

Price:

Part of a BOGO Black Friday deal. (x1 Silicone Wrap & x1 Top) $240 + $12 shipping. Total $252.

(Marine Magic Tops are usually $160-180 & wraps are $130-160.)

Production Time:

  • Purchased 11/24/17
  • Finished photo sent but I requested she make changes 12/19/17
  • Shipped 2/15/18
  • Delivered in Tampa, FL USA 2/20/18

Customer Service:

I had been watching Marine Magic on Etsy because I initially wanted another silicone gap/waist wrap. I hadn’t decided whether to try out Marine Magic or ask MerNation to make me another one (that I knew I’d like). When Marine Magic posted that they were having a Black Friday BOGO sale, I thought I’d give her a try.

The way Mermaid Kalynn makes her tops is that you can choose one main bra cover, an accent, and details. The color is custom & you choose the bra size. At first I didn’t know what to choose. I liked her top with a bra cover of a starfish but I was curious about the Vampire squid option. She said she had another customer interested in stingrays and suggested that. Since what I really wanted was the gap wrap, I decided to take a risk and get something that I normally wouldn’t consider and decided on a gray speckled stingrays with a seahorse accent and Starfish details.

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I ordered off of Etsy so all of our communication was done through that site. She kept me informed with updates and photos the entire way. She started off by sending me photos of the stringray sculpts. Then asked about eye color. We decided on pink to match my tail. She sent photos of just the sting rays & they were adorable. She even put little stars on them to match the stars on my Spellbound tail.

Then we talked and I kept mentioning that I wanted it to be simple and not too busy. I wanted the stingrays to standout as the focal point of the top.

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She allowed me to choose which direction the starfish faced. Then she suggested not putting the seahorse on it and I agreed. We decided just to add some pink & cream colored Starfish around the stingrays.

Once she was finished & it was ready to be shipped out in time for Christmas she sent me a final photo. Unfortunately, I thought there were too many Starfish and they just didn’t look like Starfish anymore. I told her my concerns and she was extremely understanding & even offered to completely redo the top. I loved those little stingrays so I asked if she would just try to preserve them but reduce the number of Starfish. I thought that maybe a different size starfish might fill it in better.

Again she sent me photos of the sculpting she did on another size starfish. Then she sent me photos of the layouts before glueing the starfish down.

The top was shipped out right away when it was finished. The top is super cute with two little stingrays staring up at me.

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She also included a little mermaid crown and extra Silicone Starfish.

Quality/Durability:

This silicone top is different from some of the other full silicone tops in that the silicone is very thin and floppy. However, it seems sealed together very well and the pieces are not pulling apart.

There is a thin layer of clear Silicone over the entire top including the nude fabric part of the bra that shows through (I’ll note that Mermaid Kalynn wanted to cover up all the nude parts but it was my request to leave them open.)

I haven’t wore it enough to see how it will stand up to a long day in the water.

Fit/Comfort:

It is a VERY comfortable top. The silicone is soft and molds to me nicely.

There is no push-up padding. For me the way this top fits (it may be because it doesn’t have padding) it gaps too much on the top for me to wear it as is. If I wear another bra under it it fits great. I’m going to try to play with adding some padding or sewing it onto another bra base to make it fit better for me because I really like the way it turned out and want to wear it more often.

I did try it out in my pool and the little stingray heads flop up and down as I swim. So cute!! It also might be the way I chose to orient the Rays. If they were turned another direction they wouldn’t do that.

Pros:

  • Very unique top
  • The stingrays are adorable and have the cutest little eyes
  • The pink and cream and white starfish are the perfect colors. They match my skin tone and my tail perfectly.

Cons:

  • This was a brand new sculpt from a brand new Silicone Top maker. It took a lot of conversation and communication to get a final piece that I was happy with.
  • The cup size doesn’t fit very well. I will need to layer it over another top or add padding
  • The silicone on the stingrays is very thin. It doesn’t give much shape or support.
  • The paint and construction feels a bit amateur to me. For the price point and the fact that it was the first time she made a stingray top it is great. In time Marine Magic has the potential to make high quality $200-$300 pieces but she isn’t quite there yet. (At least with the stingrays, some of her more current work looks gorgeous!)

Lessons learned:

  • It can be really difficult to speak up and let an artist know you are unhappy with a result.
  • Patience and direct communication is best when working with a new top maker.
  • Sometimes an artists vision and your vision are very different.
  • I’m glad I took a risk and took advantage of the BOGO sale to get this top. I don’t think I would have ordered it at full price.

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Mermaid Top Review 5: Mertailor Silicone Scale Top

Top #5 Mertailor Silicone Scale Top

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Photo by Dan Compton

Custom made to match my Spellbound tail.

Price:

$159.00

Production Time:

  • Purchased with tail 9/7/2017
  • Almost ready/ teaser 10/28/17 (Mermaid Meet-up/tail delivery)
  • Picked up at during photoshoot with Mertailor 11/5/17

Customer Service:

I ordered a silicone scale top to match my Spellbound tail. I ordered it online at the same time my tail order was put it. Cup size and measurement under bust around rib cage was requested.

I received an email saying my tail was complete but the next day I was told that they were still working on my top. Candy was great and kept me updated on its progress. It was taking longer to cure than normal because the weather was changing.

Mertailor met me at a Florida Mermaid meet up at Ginnie Springs, FL to deliver my tail in person (which was amazingly nice of him). At that time he had my top but it was just a basic pink and hadn’t been painted yet. He offered it as is, but said if I swam in it he couldn’t paint it (Candy had emailed me this prior to the meet-up so I was already aware.) I told him I wanted it painted to match my tail. I gave him freedom of how to paint it but I wanted at least one star on it and not directly over the nipple area (😊).

Later that week, during a photoshoot with Mertailor I was able to pick up my freshly painted top.

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Photo by Mertailor

Quality/Durability:

This top is made out of thick durable silicone. The scales are well sculpted to match my rounded scales on my tail without looking like they came off a scale sheet. The silicone is attached to a Mertailor’s bikini top that has had the side bands removed. The silicone side bands are reinforced with power mesh and connected in the back with a swimsuit clasp.

The paint job matches my Spellbound tail. The color is slightly darker pink than my tail but this was done on purpose. Eric said he was worried about the top being too close to my skin tone and wanted it to stand out a bit. It has 2 gorgeous black stars (one on each side) and some stripes on the back. It is speckled and detailed exactly the same as my tail.

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I love how it matches and compliments my tail!

I’ve worn it in a pool, in the Florida Springs, on the beach and on a float at a dry event. It has gotten dirty, sandy, and sweaty. It has cleaned up fresh and new easily with a bit of soap and water.

As I was taking photos of the top I noticed that the power mesh near the clasp is pulling away from the silicone. It just needs a little silicone reinforcement. I’m finding that although silicone is a fun mermaid material, it does tear and pull away from itself with use. I’m getting more and more comfortable with small repairs like this.

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Oops.

Comfort/Fit:

The size is custom made to my measurements and it fits perfectly. This is my most comfortable silicone mermaid top. I am a bit concerned that there isn’t any way to adjust it if needed (as in: if I gain or loose weight). I haven’t had to worry about that yet and will cross that bridge later, if needed.

Since the cups are made with Mertailor’s bikini cups it does have a push-up quality that gives “The Girls” amazing cleavage. Eric did make a comment that some mermaids have been surprised at how enhancing the tops can be.

It is a strapless top but there are loops in the front that will allow for a halter strap to be added. The first time I swam with the top I didn’t have a strap and it flips down as I propel myself forward. Now I have a black, a nude, and a pearl halter strap to use with it. If I wear the halter strap, it keeps the top in place while I swim. If I’m not swimming the top fits fine strapless.

I may add permanent fishnet straps to both add a bit of extra coverage and to keep the top in place. It would be easy to do with a bit of silpoxy. But I also enjoy it being strapless so I’m still undecided.

Pros:

  • This is probably the best deal cost wise for a really well made quality Silicone Top on the market.
  • It gives me AMAZING cleavage
  • Nice paint job that matches my tail. I love the matching stars.
  • It fits me perfectly. It’s the exact measurement I gave for the top.

Cons:

  • Maybe too much push up & cleavage (maybe?)
  • It did not come with straps (there are hooks to attach a strap, though)
  • If I do not wear straps the top flips down while swimming
  • There is no way to make adjustments, if needed, around the rib cage

Lessons learned:

  • Silicone tops can sometimes be what makes the wait time for a tail seem endless. Tops are just as difficult to make and paint as silicone tails are.
  • I LOVE & highly recommend Mertailor’s silicone tops as well crafted & affordable. I want another one only with a black base.
  • I’m not sure if Mertailor is still making this smooth rounded Scale style top but he does have a new scale pattern top that looks just as nice.
  • Update: As of 5/11/2018 Mertailor discontinued this mold and no longer makes this style top. He has a new silicone version for sale on his website for $265 (with shipping & tax its around $300…I just ordered one. He must have realized he was under pricing them. I’ll do a review when I’ve had it for awhile.)