Shellie, the Mermaid

Artists: Pascale Pryor and James Bauer

Shellie stands at the base of our gallery stairs gazing at the shipwrecked “Seas the Moment.”  By vexing the captain, she caused the untimely wreck despite the lighthouse warning.  Shellie began her career as a donated mannequin from Neiman Marcus.  Pascale spent more than a month welding the scales together for her tail. 

Artist’s Perspective (Pascale Pryor)

Q. What did the creative process for this installment look like?

A. The mannequin was donated from Neiman Marcus. I had two to choose from. I welded each scale, starting at the waist and then went down and built the tail. Then James built a little bracket to screw into the concrete, and hold to the floor. The tail looks a little funky at the end, but it helps stabilize her. So she has more than one point of attachment to the ground. After welding I painted and installed it. I took the mannequin and got her a wig to match color of scales. I used the same paint to match the fabric and scales. I tried to make it as fluid as possible. Then finally just a little bit of makeup.

Q. Were there any unique challenges in making this piece?

A. We talked about doing a mermaid sitting on a rock. Even though I took the mannequin’s legs off, it was more of a standing body than a sitting body. I tried to design a rock that was very minimal but I couldn’t make it look good. So I decided to make her standing up. Another challenge was the amazing amount of scales I welded while trying to keep a fluid movement.

Q. How long did it take you to complete?

A. Way too long. I don’t write down my time. But I know I worked on it for a good month.

Q. What was your inspiration for the mermaid?

A. I’ve been wanting to make a mermaid for awhile and this was the perfect opportunity to propose it to SPARK! I was most interested in making a tail that had movement. Something elegant, yet simple.

Q. What was the most rewarding part about making the mermaid?

A. When I could see the movement that I was looking for and when it started looking like I was following the right line. Because it’s one scale at a time. If you look at the tail it’s not straight and stiff. It has a twist and a curve. If you stick scales together in a row, you’ll get something that looks like an ice cream cone. I’ve seen mermaids look like that before and I think they look too stiff.