Real or folklore, the mermaid or siren remains one of the many curiosities of the world. And with summer on the cusp, what better way to celebrate this mysterious creature then with a DIY tutorial using an old mermaid skeleton and a 10 gallon fish tank. So, pinch your nose, hold your breath, we are deep diving into the abyss to find this mysterious mermaid treasure.
View the full tutorial video and find the list of supplies and written directions below. Happy creating!
- Small mermaid skeleton
- 10 gallon fish tank
- 2×2 pink insulation foam
- Hot wire foam cutter
- Aquarium plants
- Aquarium gravel
- Foam board Adhesive
- Multicolor puck lights
- Black acrylic paint
- Burnt Umber Brown paint
- Milk Chocolate acrylic paint
- Coffee Latte acrylic paint
- Phthalo green acrylic paint
- Neon Blue acrylic paint
First up, using a heat gun and heat resistant gloves, we are going to heat up the plastic (do this outside or well ventilated area) and bend the plastic to give the mermaid some shape. Once molded, dip the plastic into a bowl of cold water to help set it in place.
Next is to measure out the pink insulation foam that we will cut down to surround the tank. For the front piece, make sure it extends one inch on both sides and at least 2 inches past the top. The side pieces will butt up against that front piece.
Using the hot wire foam cutter, cut all the panels to size. Once cut, we are going to cut a hole in the front panel. Then we use the hot wire foam cutter to create the snags, splinters, and cracks in the wood. Do this for the front and two side panels.
Paint each panel with a matte black acrylic paint for the base coat and make sure you get inside all the grooves to cover up all the pink parts of the foam.
Once dry, flip over and paint the other side with a mixture of the neon blue and phthalo green paint. This will help the illusion of inside the aquarium later.
Once dry again, flip over and paint over the black with the burnt umber brown. You do not need to get inside the cracks of the wood because we want the black to accentuate those details. While the burnt umber is still wet, dry brush the two lighter browns over top. If you go to heavy handed with the lighter browns, reapply some burnt umber to create the wood effect.
Once all the panels are dry, use the foam board adhesive or Liquid Nails to apply the panels. Make sure the side panels butt up against the front panel. Use weights or heavy items to hold down the panels and let it dry/cure for 24 hours.
I used some jewelry making materials from Michael’s to give some flair to the mermaid. This included gold rings as bracelets and white beads as a necklace. I also used hot glue to hold the skeleton’s arms in position.
Once glued on the back panel, I used hot glue to create bubbles in a pattern. MAKE SURE THE HOT GLUE IS ON A LOW TEMPERATURE SETTING so it doesn’t melt the foam and paint.
Using the saved foam from the hole we cut in the front panel, I made a small cliff formation and painted it black. I then glued it to the bottom of the tank. I glued on the plants and then using hot glue again, glued the gravel in a shallow layer.
Finally, I installed the puck lights to the top and bottom of the tank using 3M strips. Once all that was assembled, I put the back panel in place, and we have a finished product! Any questions, please feel free to get in contact!