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Introduction:
The number one "must-have" custom pony for 2004 is undoubtedly the "merpony".  A merpony is simply a pony with a mermaid tail.  Hasbro actually made three merponies in the 1990s, but they weren't very popular.  Most collectors regarded the merponies as oddities.

A seapony themed custom contest (held by another collector, not me) sparked a new interest in merponies.  A crop of these gorgeous custom merponies showed up on eBay and on pony websites.  They featured dazzling colors, graceful designs, and delicate hand-made accessories.  Photographed against jaw-dropping backgrounds, they sold for upwards of $100 USD.  Everyone was amazed at their beauty and wanted one too.

I thought about bidding on a merpony...they sure looked amazing on-line.  Then, I thought, "Hmmm...I wonder if I can make one of those".  That challenge led to this tutorial and Muriel, the merpony.  The whole process took a lot longer than I imagined.  Sculpting & painting alone took many hours of tedious work.  The parts aren't cheap either.  You've been warned...it's a lot easier to click that "place my bid" button ;)

This basic tutorial will show you how to create your very own underwater beauty.  Enjoy!

Supplies needed:
Bait pony - your choice here.  G3s are probably the most popular option.  They're nice to work with too, since the plastic is soft and cuts easily.

X-acto knife - for removing the pony's head and amputation.  Eeek!

Acetone or nail polish remover - for taking off symbols.

Pliers - every customizer should have some on hand.  For removing the tail and bending your wire mesh.

Tin snips, wire cutters, or heavy duty scissors - I suggest either the first or second.  You don't want to ruin a nice pair of scissors! ;)

Wire mesh - I used some leftover scraps that I've had for years.  Home Depot has "aluminum mesh" for pet doors should work.  It's less than $10 for a huge roll...you don't need that much though.  It's in the same section as the mesh for screen doors/windows.  Other craft stores (Michaels, Joann's, etc.) or art stores have finer mesh that will probably work even better.  Look in the sculpting section.

Clay - your choice here.  I used an epoxy putty similar to Milliput, but it is really hard to work with.   Epoxy putties are available at model/gaming stores or on-line.  Perhaps Fimo or Sculpy would be easier.  With an aluminum mesh, it's possible to bake your pony.  I haven't tried the air-dry paper clays, but there's no reason why those wouldn't work.  Fimo, Sculpy, and paper clays are available at art & craft stores.
 
Sculpting tools - whatever you have on hand should work nicely.  Pens, forks, knives, nails, thumbtacks, toothpicks...you don't need to spend more money on fancy tools =)

Glue - for reattaching the head.  I'd use tacky glue, that is, if I glue the head back on.  I usually just leave it alone.

Paint & brushes - your choice here.  Whatever you normally use should work =)

Embellishments - rhinestones, glitter, etc.  It's up to your imagination!
Instructions:

Muhahaha!  Poor Wing Song doesn't know what's in store for her... 
1. Disassembly
Off with her head!  Use hot water to soften the glue around the neck & try twisting it off.  Carefully slice around the rim with an X-acto knife.  (kids, get your parents to help you with this).
Don't cut straight through...otherwise it'll be hard to reassemble her!  Look closely at the neck seam & try to preserve the original structures.  I removed her tail with a pair of needle-nosed pliers.
2. Leg Removal
Use the x-acto knife & chop the legs off.  I also removed the part in between (marked in green) after I took the picture.  Symbols were removed with acetone on a cotton pad =)
3. Wire tail base
Use a piece of metal wire mesh to form the tail.  I used some stuff I had laying around.  I think I got it from Home Depot?  Not sure.  
Cut the shape out, roll it into a tube form, and crimp the open edges together.
4. Attaching the wire tail
Slip the tail into the pony's body & shape to your preferences.  I actually didn't glue this one in...it fits snugly.
5. Clay base
Roll your preferred clay into small spheres about the size of a cranberry.  Squish them into flat circles and layer them onto your wire mesh.  Be careful not to trap any air bubbles in between the layers.  This part will take a long time, so turn on some music or get a friend to chat with.
6. Scale details
I used a sculpting tool to carve the scales into the clay.  You don't need to use something that fancy, a pen or pencil will be just fine =)  Also, you don't need to make the scales as prominent...most people just make little "u" shaped grooves in the clay.  I've seen some people shape scales and stick them on too.  If you do this, you must have a lot of free time!  ;)
7. Painting
Use a contrasting color in your choice of paint.  Most people use acrylics of some sort.  Sealing is optional...if you decide on sealing your merpony, I suggest doing it after step 8.  LOL, she's standing on my Wacom graphics tablet. =P

8. Details/Embellishments
Glitter, rhinestones, shells, beads, flowers...the sky's the limit!  You can find all of this stuff at any local craft or art store.  I used a mix of lavender and iridescent crystal  fine glitter in random patches on her tail.  I decided not to rhinestones on this one.

I also painted in some darker shadows on her scales...I think this adds extra depth, but it took a long time!
9. Reassembly
Reattach the head with a tiny bit of glue.  Make sure the inside of your pony is dry before you perform this step!  I usually let them dry for a few days upside down.



Completed Merpony
Finally, after hours of work, here she is.  Don't forget to give her a distinctive hairstyle!
Muriel is wearing a headpiece made of custom tie-dyed purple roses dusted with glitter and bellflowers.  I gave her two little curls in front.  Her hair was dyed with a light base of pink and darker purple horizontal stripes.  Her hair was curled into a bun and held with mini clips.

For more information about Muriel the merpony, visit her page here.

A Link?:


If you used this tutorial, I'd appreciate a link back to this page.
Who knows, you might inspire me to write another tutorial =)
http://www.aikarin.com/mlp/customs/merpony/merponytutorial.html

You could use this button, hint, hint! ;)  Right click on it & save it to your server.

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