Fun on-line, Creating the Under-Mer

Fun on-line, Creating the Under-Mer

With stay at home, I have been on line a lot more than I use to be. I have had fun playing Runescape, listening to music, (this week’s felting was assisted mainly by Blue Oyster Cult), audio books and I have had a lovely time watching videos on felting. I have watched both wet and dry and some that were even in English!  There have been a few free workshops and even some felt-alongs on YouTube.  I have watched hats, scarves and flowers being made. It is exceedingly strange with my aversion to unnecessary wetness that the felt along that got my attention was Sara Renzulli’s (Sarafina Fiber Art) felted Mermaid.  She has done a lot of 3-D sculpture, I particularly like her armature work and her felted horses. She has the felt along mermaid and other felt along projects posted on YouTube if you would like to check it out;

By now you likely know me well enough to expect enthusiasm and probably not doing what the instructor was expecting (ether from miss reading the instructions or going off on a tangent). I suspect that too. Her Mer-Exampel is pink so I can see design changes ahead. I had originally intended to behave and adhere to the instructions, except for the pink body of course which was to be our own colour selection.

This being the week before the long weekend and our government here being very kind, has allowed some stores to partly re-open (garden centers and hardware stores were the two I needed to visit). So, at 6:30am, armed with gloves and one of my clinic masks, I was off on my quest for the side yard plants and 14 gauge aluminum wire. Wire first at Home Depot since they opened at 6am.  I found steel wire at 14 gauge and a few lighter steel ones but no aluminum… Oh well, maybe I will do better with flowers? Sort of,  I found most of the herb and some very short cherry tomatoes. Well since I’m out and across the street from the Dollarama, I should stop in there for a big shallow bucket to put the plants in until I can plant them out next weekend (I will use it as a plant saucer once I have the plants planted). Why look! Dollarama has aluminum wire the same diameter as the 14 gauge steel. I should have just gone here first! I picked up black and silver. (This could be a very sinister Mer-Person in that colour scheme.)

1 1 the hall of wire acquisition

I had wanted to make a Mer-Man, which just sounded much more fun but also wanted to understand the process before I messed with it too much.  Thus Mer-Woman it was and I followed along with the correct proportions but used the 20 gauge floral wire instead of the lighter aluminum wire I couldn’t find.


2 2 Mer-Woman

By this point, I was having quite a bit of fun and wanted to make a Mer-Man too.  So I upped the proportions making him 2 heads taller than the first.  I also added a sternoclavicular section so I didn’t wind the wires more than twice at the shoulders.  I used 20 gauge for everything but the hands since I found the tail wires a bit floppy in the Mer-Woman and wanted stronger in the Mer-Man. We will see if I overcompensated!



3 Mer-Woman and handsome Mer-Man

I was still having fun and started thinking about my niece who is a competitive swimmer, so on to Mer-teen, (pre-growth spurt) at least a head shorter than a Mer-woman. So subtracting 2 to 2.75 inches should work. Success I have a Mer-Family!

4 4 Mer-Man, Mer-Woman and Mer-teen


Now that I have 3 skeletal fish people it had better get stated on adding a bit of flesh to their bones!

I was being good and followed Sara’s instructions. She seems to work in a more additive way, like sculpting with clay. Make a shape and add it. While my inclination is to block in basic shapes then refine them by subtractive sculpting (lots of poking); adding in sections of wool then felting till it’s the required shape and reasonably firm. The way I have been leaning towards is a lot slower but I have good control over the felting. I wanted to try her method so I wrapped the wire then added the filler piece. i used parts of an alpaca batt from Ann, in blends and layers of light creams, browns and reddish browns. Not having the correct tool to do Sara’s rapping technique, I substituted one of my stick shuttles for weaving. It worked reasonably well.  I do like the idea of having a gradation of sizes that can be used to make a shape. This makes the shape size repeatable.

5        5 Creative use of a stick shuttle

I inserted the carrot shape into the leg space which created the filler for the tail.  Then I got engrossed in adding quads, creating an illiac crest at the hips.

 6-7 Filling the tail

As I started adding the body, arms and head, I got distracted…..(no photos sorry!) I had a blast adding latts, anterior delts and the serratus ant.  You can see cute little clavicles but I didn’t add more than a suggestion there might be a manubrium! I even had a sternum that was more visible before she acquired breasts. (I felt very guilty sculpting them, that needle did look vary sharp!) I got busy sculpting and firming up the fin section and discovered I liked the suggestion that there were knees in that tail, and the hint of the remains of legs within her tail.

8 8 Discovering (my) fish woman has knees (but no hands yet)

As I started to add the hands I realized I should have had hands on all my felting projects (whether or not they originally had hands). Look, she is self-felting!!

   9-11 Hands can be very useful in a sculpture

Saturday Sara had her wet felted tail section of this project. She showed laying out layers of wool then adding embellishments to it. Then wetting and rolling the tail cover. Her colours looked like they will work grate on her finished Mer-maid.  I particularly like the silk inclusions at the tail, it looks vary beta fish fin-like.

Since I am still having fun sculpting and I don’t have a spot to wet felt set up I am going to finish the under structure and then decide on the top layer to blend over it. I will treat this like a 3-D grisaille underpainting. I will lay washes of colour over top. The mottling reminds me of sand on a creek bottom. Since she does not have any obvious defensive or offensive weaponry (unless she keeps my pen tool), I think she will have to go with camouflage to be safe.

As I watched the instructions about wet felting the tail cover, I kept sculpting and finished out the structure of the tail. I added what in the base of the hand would be the thenar and hypothenar eminences at the base of the tail.  Muscles here would allow it articulation of the membrane between the outside edges of the fin and give more control when moving through the water. I gave her a single gastrocs (calf muscle) but kept the suggestion of two quads (thighs) and the hint of knees.

After the YouTube, instructions were over and I had most of the understructure in hand. I took a short break to plant a few of the plants I had purchased then gathered my camera for her in-progress photo shoot


12-13 a quick touch up before her photo shoot

It had been very overcast when I took the first set of photos. I went inside to check them …. and the sun came out.  I grabbed the camera and my model and off we went to the front garden hopeful the brake in the clouds would last! It was a tiny bit brighter but the lighting was not the raking Caravaggio like light I would have enjoyed.

   14-16 photo shoot for Under-Mer-Woman.

(yes she is naked waving at strangers walking past on the side walk!)

   17-20 Luckily she became distracted and stopped shocking the neighbors

The Mer-Woman seemed most interested in the Daffodils once she stopped touching up the felting on her tail.


   21-23 Mer-Woman admiring Lungwort while sitting on rocks beside crashing waves of violets


I want to add SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) muscle in the neck and I have still more work to do on the face particularly the eyes but I am very pleased with how she is coming. I will put her aside and do the under structure for the Mer-Man and possibly the Mer-teen before I decide exactly what over layers of colour I will add. It should continue to be fun and He will get a trident I think!


I have not forgotten about my Pictish shepherd or the mysterious creature. Thanks to Ann M. and Carlene P. I have fibre to soon get back to them. I do tend to like to sit and think about a project partway through, so I can reassess it (see it through fresh eyes). I may come up with tweak in the design or I may finish it as I had originally intended.


I hope you are also enjoying all the tutorials, blogs, and other inspirational felting ideas out on the internet at the moment.   If you are not jumping into a project immediately, then  hopefully putting inspirations in notes or sketches to enjoy doing them later. Have fun inside and now also in your gardens!

24 24 to inspire you one of my fancy daffodils

10 thoughts on “Fun on-line, Creating the Under-Mer

  1. I love your mer-people and am looking foreward to seeing them finished. Some time ago I started a male water sprite – in turquoise colours, no fishtail but webbed hands and feet and a lizard type tail. You’ve just inspired me to get on and finish him. The intention is to give him dragonfly type wings, plus wing covers so he can swim under water.

    1. Ann that sounds like a wonderfull project to get lost in on an urly summer day! i had thot about webing the fingers and makeing interesting ears but swimming wings sounds fabulous! I would love to see them when you are done! have fun! He sounds spectacular!

  2. I’m loving Mer-woman Jan, particularly the muscle detail you are achieving. I’ve done a few stab along tutorials with Sara but haven’t seen this one.

    1. Thanks Karen, this is the first time i have tried one and i am enjoying it. the Mer-Maid is running now and has one more live session next saterday May 23 2020. the next one will be flowers. check out her youtube channel for the list she has done since we have been house bound.

      i may be cheating when doing the muscles (although i am having lots of fun sculpting them) since i was a massage therapist (RMT) for 24 years! im still off work i tore the disk at L5 and it did not heal well and got the nabouring nerves to also yell at me too. i keep hoping i can go back to work but it is not looking optimistic. this is actually a grate way to keep all the muscle structures in mind! (well except she only has one gastrocnemius when we all are expected to have two!

      its grate to get inspired so i hope you will try a Mer-Person or a saytor or minitor or…… Have fun!!

  3. What a lovely daffodil – never seen one like that before.

    Your mer-woman is a beautiful shape because you pay so much attention to detail. The hands are amazing and are not easy to form.

    1. Thankyou Annielynrosie!!
      the daffodil is one of the Dubble verietys. this may help in tracking some down. i think thay were at the local Wallmart last fall in a big bag for about $9.00canadian (Owch) but i caved and thay look gorgus. i planted them layered with crocuss and cillia. so dig a hole large enuff for a number of bulbs you want to the depth of the deepest bulb. place the bulbs and then add dert to the level the next bulbs should be plasnted add then and some more dirt, finaly add cillia and the last of the dirt. then Poof in the spring a lovely clump of changing fowers!!! wate i got off topic we were chatting about felt!

      i have noticed some hands having difficulty being believable hands. little things like wrists attach to hands in the middle not to one side. adding the meety bits at the base of the palm (theanar and hyothenar muscles) will help find the position of the rist. should i do a chat some time about the anatomy of a hand or other body parts? did you know to get a hands proportion to the body a good rool of thumb is that a hand is the lenth from your chin (base of palm) to your eyebrows (end of fingers, exculding long fingernails). this isnt always perfect but its usualy prity close.

      when you are working on something or someone that you would not regularly see in nature (like those Mer-People) anatomy can be different from us and be perfectly ok. (long webed fingers for better swiming makes sence) but i think we will have the best success if we can make the muscle structure believable in the context for the creature we are creating. so it may be worth looking at where a figure should bend and what kind of muscles mite be required to do the bending. i went huge on the attachments for QL on the hips to suggest she will have grate hip flexing muscles to move the tail! i was thinking about vestigial legs and wound up with a single gastrox within the fish-ish shaped tail. i probubly should have looked into fish anatomy who knows what i mite have got distracted by! but knees on fish just got me laffing and i couldnt give them up!!

  4. Great mermaid, I cant wait to see how you shade her. I think knees are necessary if you are to believe some of the mythology that has merpeople switching to legs on land. Magic is easier to do if you have something to work with.
    The flowers are gorgeous as usual.

  5. Your Mer family is looking good. I was a physical therapist in my past life so I can understand the need to add proper musculature. It definitely makes the figure more believable. I agree with Ann that mer people need legs so knees are definitely necessary. I look forward to seeing the finished family.

  6. Such wonderful detail in your mer-man and a lovely daffodil! Thanks for sharing!

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