I am so thrilled to show off my new mermaid top. I built this entirely on my own. It was made to closely resemble a custom top I had made for my shoot in Mexico. That top spent a lot of time in the water and unfortunately needs to be retired. I will probably use it for dry land shoots - if I ever do one, lol - but I felt it was in my best interests to create a new one at this point. The last thing I need is to be at one of my underwater shoots and have my top start falling apart.
The base of the top is a swimsuit top made by the Venus company. I love their swimwear. It's really sturdy and flattering, plus I like that they have such a large range of quality pieces in so many sizes, so even ladies who are top heavy have a lot of choices and strong support. These are all real shells, which technically aren't the best choice, since natural elements have a bit of fragility to them, but I will be handling this top with care and properly storing it wrapped in bubble wrap when it's not in use. I painted each one with multiple colours to provide an ombre, colour-shifting effect, then sealed each one with multiple coats of polyurethane. The beads are pre-attached to the cord and came on a large spool, so I just unrolled it and cut the pieces to fit. Pre-attached beads are definitely the best choice for something like this, instead of threading each bead. There's literally no chance the beads will come loose and pollute natural waters or hurt any marine life. A bead fell off one of my other tops a while back, and I don't know if it fell off in the water or elsewhere, but I carry with me some guilt that it might be lurking in a Florida spring somewhere.
The centerpiece is a modified applique that came off the belt I designed to match this top. The appliques I stitched to the belt became frayed with so much time in the water, so I bought new ones, reinforced them with glue, and repaired the belt with those. I modified one of the less damaged ones for use on this top. The random bits of sparkle that you see are Swarovski crystals, which are mostly just there to fill in negative space between the shells. A couple years ago I began making crystal keepsake boxes that also double as pet urns, and each box is covered in over a thousand crystals. Needless to say, I had plenty on hand for this project. There are a few non-Swarovski black crystals which I had left over from another project and those were great for filling in odd-shaped spaces.
This was my first time building anything like this and I definitely underestimated the difficulty level as well as how time consuming it would be. But it's done, and I love how it looks. I am about to start work on another top to match a new tail I ordered. The first stages of that top are complete and I should be able to complete this top, as well as a matching belt, in less time than the one pictured here, as the design is less complicated. I will be posting a new blog showcasing those pieces once they're finished.