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Paper diorama: Mermaid Song

Before summer is over let me snuck in one more ocean theme project: a paper diorama I’m calling “Mermaid Song”. It’s the second of a series of commissioned dioramas for Entertaining Elephants. In case you haven’t seen the first one, it was about elephants and you can read about it here

Since I already did a mermaid for the store’s baby t-shirts I wanted to give this one a different twist and turned to historical references on Google images. I really enjoy when I can do some research on a project and learn new things. Looking into mermen I got caught up reading about Triton and greek mythology, and it was very tempting to make a mer-couple, but not having enough space instead I borrowed the idea of the boat in the background. I never knew or noticed that Mexican mermaids played the guitar, but apparently they are used a lot in nativity scenes in Mexico. If you’re curious why, you can read more on it here.  And then looking up sea monsters I found this really cool old map with creatures that gave me the idea to add sea lions to my little scene. 

Putting these ideas together turned into the sketch below. Rather than a static image, I see it more like one frozen instant in a bigger story: the mermaid is singing and calling out to the sea men in the boat, and the sea lions while enjoying the song are wondering… will the boat stop or continue its voyage toward the island that’s been in sight for some time? I’d love the kid who’s going to own this diorama to use it as a starting point and make up all kinds of stories! 

This time it was a little faster to make since I used a similar composition than the first diorama and already figured out how to create the pieces, install the lights, and assemble to whole thing. You can see pictures along the way for an idea of the process (I love that one with the boat alone in the night sky, just that could be a little scene in itself). The next diorama has a clock with a different shape so there will probably be some more things to figure out, but that’s part of the fun, we’ll see how it goes!

diorama mythology

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