The team at New Zealand based special effects company Weta Workshop have recently co a fully functional Mermaid tail for Auckland woman Nadya Vessey, who is a double leg amputee.
Ms Vessey approached Weta with the ambition of making a tail that was both practical and beautiful, a task that proved to be a pleasing challenge for Weta’s team of talented artists and craftsmen.
“We really couldn’t resist the opportunity to help Nadya on such a magical project” says Richard Taylor, five-time Academy Award TM winner and Creative Director at Weta Workshop. “We’ve made mermaid suits and prosthetics for the movie Peter Pan, but this project was to make a huge difference to a real person, which makes it incredibly satisfying”.
The unique articulated construction of the tail will allow Vessey to propel herself through the water with an undulating movement as if she were a mermaid.
Every aspect of the tail has been custom made to Vessey’s body using a blend of 3D modelling and milling technology, combined with vac forming and a poly carbonate spine and tail fin. The skin of the tail has been made from a layer of neoprene and a lycra outer-layer digitally printed with a stunning ‘scale’ pattern, designed by one of Weta’s concept artists.
Vessey was born with a condition that meant her legs would never develop properly, but began swimming after she had her first leg amputated at seven. Despite having her other leg amputated at 16, she swam competitively in high school and now swims as often as she can.
Vessey says she is thinking of using the tail to help her complete the swimming section of a triathlon.
"I thought rather than just having it as a plaything, I would take it further." Vessey, who is in her 50s, was inspired to get a tail a few summers ago after an encounter at the beach.
Weta has donated staff time and expertise into making the tail, and Vessey has been able to cover the costs of the materials from a grant she received from the Kerr-Taylor Foundation Trust.