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Making a Pirate-Themed Mermaid Prop - Using Packing Tape


Making a Pirate-Themed Mermaid Prop - Using Packing Tape For the Pirate Theme this year - we needed a wicked Mermaid to be one of the key props on the porch. This prop is an inspiration from a couple of key posts from fellow haunters! Props out to 4mygirls and her Sirena Mermaid: Mermaid/sea creature "Sirena" and Haunt On a Dime with the following thread: Packing Tape Ghosts - on

Mermaid 1

Key Materials: - Plastic Packing Tape - Plastic Food wrap - Foam Head - Finishing Materials I debated using the chicken wire technique to make the form, like with the Kraken/Sea Monsters, but for such a small body, I opted to go with the packing tape ghost concept. She shall be known as "Marina" the evil Mermaid.

Mermaid 3

Step 1: Simply wrap your subject in plastic wrap then start layering tape over them. I created 5 body components: torso, right arm, left arm, right hand, left hand. Have your model actually hold their body in the position you want and tape away! Fill the void with plastic trash bags. The entire body weighs less than 5 lbs.

Mermaid 10

Part 2: Create the Head I used a $5 styrofoam head from Hobby Lobby. Get out the Gorilla Glue and and Model Magic Air-Dry Clay. I drew my cuts with a sharpie marker and used a hobby knife to cut the jaw off, in order to glue it down in the open position. Once dry, start using the modelling clay to make a scary face. I used my daughter as a model and we had more fun laughing while she tried to make the scariest face possible for me to model.

Adding the Face

Once the clay dries overnight, I used some light wall spackle to blend the edges of the clay into the foam.

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Prime it with some thick latex for it to tie altogether.

Part 3: Attach Your Parts

Part 3: Attach Your Parts Simply use more packing tape to connect the arms, hands, and head.

Part 4: Creating the Torso and Tail

Part 4: Creating the Torso and Tail After some debating that "Yes" I will "NOT" harm your blankets, I wrapped up the kids' fleece blankets to the make the bottom half of the torso. Like the earlier steps, just wrap in plastic wrap and packing tape, and viola - instant body!

The Tail

For the Tail, I took 2 old coat hangar wires and bent them to make the outer edges of the tail. After securing them inside the torso cavity with, yes - you guessed it, more packing tape, connect the two ends of the wires with a single, long strip of tape. Then, you can add tape up and down to make the actual tail. Both sides need to be taped so that one doesn't remain "sticky".

Step 5: Building the Frame

Step 5: Building the Frame Once I had "Marina" assembled, I measured out the "tank" and began building it with 3/4" PVC - simple elbow and T joints.

Here's the "Tank" framed up:

Part 6: Painting and Detailing

Part 6: Painting and Detailing the Mermaid I textured the mermaid in two stages: 1) Used flexible, white paintable caulking to fill in the low spots of the tape 2) Use a rubber-based spray paint to seal the edges

Mermaid 27

Next, I took 5 different colors of spray paint (including a glitter spray paint from Home Depot) and painted my basic shapes. In this case, I wanted a fishy/human look - hence the spots with the pink skin tone.

More Painting Images
Ping Pong Fishy Teeth

Teeth were made from a ping pong ball and the eyes were printed on photo paper and cut out. Gloss clearcoat was added overall. Finally nails, eyelashes and fingernails were put on.

Photoshop Eyes

Drew up some eyes in Photoshop and printed them on plain paper.

Eyes Trimmed
Wicked Eyelashes
In the Cage

"Marina" was hung up to the frame using 5lb. flourocarbon fishing monofilament. Her pirate "friend" was positioned on an antique store ladder and will be positioned to look as if he's dangling a fish in her tank.


Part 7: Gettin' Fishy The kids helped make fish bones and sculpt a fish that the Pirate will dangle over the tank - need to paint them later.

Ocean Effect

Here is the ocean wave projector from Amazon: I've blacked off the porch with Weed Guard material and this projector will be placed in the tank with the Mermaid. Night photos don't show up well, but you can see some of the color bouncing behind. It can be set to any single color (Red, Green, Blue) or it can swirl between them all.


Less than a week out and we now have the tank assembled on the porch. We took the mermaid out temporarily to get some photos of her tonight but are keeping her "locked" in the garage until next weekend. Using colored LEDs to highlight the face and the fish - sorry, the night photos don't do her justice...

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