“Loneliness always dragged me to the sea, my hair bleached out by salt and sun, my soul wandering to the blackest deep. Mermaids sleep beneath my human bones, my melancholy resounding in the siren’s songs.”
“Soul of a mermaid, mouth of a sailor”
“She was like a mermaid enrapturing me the sailor with all her charms!”
“A sailor without a destination cannot hope for a favourable wind.”
I knew from the start that this year’s birthday artwork for Tiffany was going to be a rather big and extravagant project. It was one that would require very careful and detailed planning and meticulous effort. I began brainstorming and planning for it as early as June. I made at least 3 trips to Plaza Singapura (ArtFriend, Daiso and Spotlight all at one place) to source for suitable materials that I would need.
My idea stemmed from the chinese ang bao that I made for Tiffany during Chinese New Year this year (refer to post: CNY RED PACKETS 2019: PIG YEAR OINK OINK). I designed a sailor mermaid pig for her. That was when I discovered there really is a character called Sailor Mermaid that existed in the famous Japanese manga Sailor Moon.
So I had the idea of combining the concepts of a sailor and a mermaid together. I envisioned an artwork of a mermaid with a steering wheel wearing a sailor cap. I found the following image that was closest to my vision for Tiffany.
I was inspired to replicate this same image with my own personal touch to it. Tiffany with blonde hair and her favourite colour pink bling bling mermaid tail. My choice of materials for Tiffany’s birthday artwork were bolder, more adventurous and grander as compared to other SNSD members. It kinda reflects Tiffany’s own personality and preferences, I feel.
As for her face, I chose the following reference photo of her that I felt best matched the image of a mystical mermaid.
So here’s how I made this artwork broken down in parts, not necessarily in the exact sequence of steps I took. However it was important for me to consider carefully which step should come first before the next. Sometimes an uncertain situation would arise and I would have to play by ear. “Play by ear” was a phrase I heard voices mentioning to me often while making this artwork.
#1 Covering background of my frame in a shade of blue
The frame I picked for Tiffany’s artwork is an open rustic gold frame without a glass cover. I made use of the frame back board as my canvas board. The first thing I did was to cover the board with a huge sheet of a slightly glistering surfaced blue paper that would represent the colour of the ocean.
I covered most parts of the board with a wide double-sided tape.
Then I removed the white top layers of the tape to expose the sticky bottom layers before placing the blue paper over it.
Turned the board to the flipside and cut away the excess.
My canvas with a blue background was completed with a good start.
#2 Draft sketching and making of her thick, luscious blonde hair
Started off with doing a sketch from her shoulder down, to her face and hair, and finally her sailor cap, as referenced from my 2 pictures.
Based on my sketch, I cut out her luscious hair from a paper of a colour close to blonde as the base.
Then I drew the lines using black marker to reflect the texture and layers of her hair.
#3 Outlining her face and body and cut out in separate pieces
I outlined my original pencil sketch of her face, upper body and tail with a black marker.
Then cut them out in 2 pieces, separating the tail from her upper body.
#4 Making of her gorgeous, bling bling pink mermaid tail
Materials used: a pink glitter washi tape (same one I used for Tiffany’s 2018 birthday artwork! Refer to post FOR TIFFANY: MERMAID IN A FISH BOWL) and a pair of scissors
Covered the surface of the tail with the washi tape, horizontally line by line till the whole tail was filled.
Flipped over to the opposite side and cut away the excess.
I gathered a few possible materials that I could use to decorate the tail further with to represent the scales.
I had a feeling that Tiffany would want to go for a bolder, avant-garde look, so I chose these pink crystal stones ultimately.
I attached the crystals only after the tail was properly positioned and secured onto my canvas board as the board is more sturdy enough to hold the weight of the crystal stones than on the paper tail itself.
I preferred to use white glue to super glue because it dries faster, is odourless and turns clear when fully dry.
I loved how crystal clear it looks, quite literally, after the white glue was fully dry!
#5 Making of my D.I.Y steering wheel
The making of this steering wheel was quite tricky. Ideally I wanted to use a steering wheel ornament for my artwork to make things a lot easier for me. Since I couldn’t find one like that despite searching high and low at ArtFriend, Spotlight and Daiso, I had to resort to making my own DIY version.
I made use of 6 ice cream sticks, each cut short on one side, to form the 6 handles on the steering wheel. After they were firmly secured to their respective positions on the canvas board with white glue, I put a wooden ring that I got from ArtFriend on top and also made sure it was stuck firmly with white glue.
Last but not least, I adorned the centre point of the wheel with a shiny tinsel red pom pom, leftover from Yoona’s 2019 birthday artwork (refer to post FOR YOONA: REINDEER YOONG IN A SNOWY POM POM WONDERLAND), that subtly exudes a christmas vibe. (TMI: Since christmas season last year, whenever I made artworks related to Tiffany, I would subconciously start singing christmas carols somehow. This one was no exception too! 🎅🏻🎄🎶)
Lastly, to make the ship steering wheel look more convincing, I tied a jute rope around the wheel, somewhat similar to how it looks like on my reference picture.
#6 Adjusting Tiffany’s skin tone with a darker shade of beige with watercolour
I wasn’t happy with my original choice of colour paper on which I drew Tiffany’s face and upper body. I felt it was a tad too close to the colour of her hair so she turned out looking kinda pale and lifeless when put together with her hair.
So what I did to solve this problem was to use watercolours to add a layer of beige that is closer to skin colour.
Now she looks more like a human. Well, a half-human mermaid that is! 👧🏻
#7 Making of the sailor cap
Cut out the separate parts of the cap using suitable colour papers and stuck them together.
Then with the help of a tweezer, I formed a symbol of a ship anchor on the cap with these tiny pretty pink rhinestone and pearl stickers.
#8 Putting separate pieces together to their rightful positions
Covered the “bald” part of her crown head with the sailor cap.
Covered the bare parts of her boobs with 2 seashells that I got from ArtFriend. 🐚
#9 Final touch-up
After everything was in place, I scrutinised carefully at the overall look of the artwork. Somehow I noticed something about her sailor cap and lips seemed kinda off.
So what I did to improve my artwork further was to add black outlines to her cap with a black marker and colour her lips in a deeper shade of red with a maroon brush marker.
When I was finally satisfied with all the details on my artwork, all that was left to do now was to frame it up in my rustic gold frame and take some good photos! 📸
Also prepared a complimentary gift box with all things mermaid inside! 🌊
Ahoy there, Sailor Mermaid Tiffany Young! 🧜♀️⚓
Hope you like this really special artwork that I’ve put together for you! So much effort and planning invested on this artwork. I hope it reflects the amount of hard work you have put onto perfecting each of your own crafts, performances and productions too all the time. 💕💕💕💕
Keep on splashing waves and making your magic with your upcoming Magnetic Moon! 🌕
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! 🎉🎁🎀