Dan Baines

Fairy Rings and Monstrous Things

FeeJee Mermaid in 5 Days, Prop Build Project Day 5

Well here it is, day five and what a journey! The mermaid dried perfectly overnight and all that was required this morning was a quick coat of varnish on the claws and a final dry brush to the face. Part of being an artist is knowing when to stop and deadlines make that decision for you (which is why I like them!)

As my mind ticked over in bed last night it occurred to me that to the uninitiated most won’t have a clue what the mermaid is. This usually happens at events where I exhibit my fairies, I have to answer the same question multiple times - “what is it?”, “is it real?” etc…

To pre-empt those questions I thought that with the remaining time I would create a small display and ‘dress’ the prop with artefacts and interesting items that tell a story to the observer.

In addition to the newspaper clipping and faux ivory mermaids I added yesterday I also added a few aged sailor’s personal items such as a maritime compass and sundial and a bosun’s call. I framed a small photo of a Victorian chap standing next to another FeeJee Mermaid and finally added some aged signage to the plinth and an upturned antique tray I had lying around.

Underneath the tray I added an mp3 player and speaker which plays eerie carnival music for added atmosphere.

The whole ensemble creates an eye-catching exhibit worthy of any travelling sideshow and I’m over the moon with the results.

Over the past 5 days I have tried some new ideas, some worked and others didn’t but that is the essence of prop making – experimentation and developing existing methods.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following the blog over the past week. If you have a go yourself please drop me a line and let me know how you’re getting on, I’d be very interested in having a look at your work.