Thursday, 29 October 2015

A Mermaid Legends How-to: Style your hair just like Shelley's.

Inventing and drawing the hairstyles for Coralie Sparkles' mermaids in Estella and the Falling Star was just about the most fun I've had with pencils and paper.

I love Pippa's short brown bob, and Merina's free-flowing, long-as-her-tail, shiny black tresses. I also love Estella's crinkly golden curls, with her simple little plait dangling down beside one ear.

But it was really fun creating a more intricate hair-do for the mermaid with attitude, Shelley. She is after all, the Guardian's daughter. Her jewellery hints at her status, and so her hair had to measure up. I could imagine Shelly being used to being pampered, and perhaps having a loyal servant to arrange her hair in exciting ways each morning. I pictured her with a dressing table full of ribbons, shell decorations, jewels and beautiful silver bangles and pendants.

Darcie with Shelley's hair-do.

With two slim plaits that start at her temples and link up at the back into one high pony-tail, a ribbon is tied in and weaved down through the rest of Shelley's hair, plaited for a section, tied off, and tied again at short intervals to create a series of bulbous bobbles, before trailing off in a nice long tassle at the end. 

My friend Darcie (otherwise know as Shellanna Shimmerfin - to check out your own mermaid name, click HERE.) has been growing her hair for some time and was happy to try out Shelley's stylish plaits. We took photos at every point to make it really easy for you to follow the steps and try it for yourself. 

1. Brush hair thoroughly and part in the middle. Take a section from the front, from the parting to above the ear. Plait it until its long enough to reach past the middle of the back of the head. Put a tie around it while you do the other side.

2. Hold the two plaits out of the way while you brush the rest of the hair up into a neat, high pony-tail and secure well. Then bring the plaits round and add into the pony-tail by securing with a separate tie. This just makes it easier so you're not trying to hold onto too much while securing the pony-tail. I can tell you it was easier drawing this hairstyle than doing it with real hair that wanted to slide all over the place!

3. Take a long piece of ribbon, of whatever colour you choose. Shelley had turquoise in the story, but imagine a coral pink or a starfish gold or silver, or seaweedy green!

Secure it round the hair-bands that are holding the pony-tail.

4. Then wrap the long part around the ponytail to hide the knot and the bands, then loop through itself to stop it unravelling.

5. Now you can start your big plait, weaving in the ribbon with one of the three strands. You can keep the plaited section as short or long as you like. Then fasten with a hairband.

6. Then wrap the ribbon round the hair-band again and thread it through itself or the hairband to keep it in place. Then lead the ribbon down through the next section of hair and secure with a hairband again. I pulled the hair gently so that it spread out into a nice bulging bobble.

Repeat this stage again to create another bobble of hair, and keep going if you have ultra long hair, or just do one if you are running out of length. This is why the plait section may vary a lot too. 

7. After each section is tied off with a hairband and wrapped around with the ribbon, you can tie a wider ribbon at the bottom to finish it off in a nice bow. Leave a nice big tassel if you can.

Then you can enjoy swishing and flicking your plait behind you. 

If you have a go at Shelley's hair-do, please send us a photo of how it turned out. Or you might like to experiment and find your own way to tie up long hair.

If you have short hair, there are still lots of ways you can play with plaits and pony-tails, buns, twists and clips. Maybe you could find a way to slide in a shell or two, or some beads or stars! We'd love to see all your mermaidy hair-dos. Email them to:

and we will post them up in the gallery on the Mermaid Legends website.

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