Upon planning our ‘water fairy’, Maya’s costume, Tom and I were researching a lot of mermaid inspired costumes, make up and art for inspiration. I suggested contacting Traci Hines of ‘Siren’s Grotto’ and asking her to work on some commissioned pieces for us.
I’d previously bought several starfish hair adornments on Etsy and was beyond impressed with Traci’s attention to detail and the quality of her craftsmanship. The way she incorporates freshwater pearls and swarovsi crystals to create mesmerising and almost magical, sparkling pieces that truly look as if they’d been found in a treasure chest ‘under the sea’.
I was shown some of Traci’s mermaid portrayals a few years ago by a friend of mine from California who knew I was a huge fan of The Little Mermaid. As well as a wig stylist and costume designer Traci is also a singer/songwriter, youtube star and model (to name a few of her talents).
We sent Traci the brief for each piece we needed and she completely understood the direction we wanted to take with Maya’s costuming. Elegant, magical and colourful. The iridescent sequins Traci used on Maya’s hair piece really look as if they’re bubbles. The hair piece shimmers with every movement and catches the light beautifully.
Traci also created princess Aurora’s woodland crown pictured below. It’s perfectly feminine and natural. All links to Traci’s website, youtube and Etsy store below …
Interview to be continued.. here’s part 1.
- Stacey x
Tell us about Siren’s Grotto. How did your journey on Etsy begin?
I’ve always loved mermaids, especially The Little Mermaid from the classic fairy tale, and after portraying her for a number of years, and then eventually taking on other original mermaid roles for modeling gigs, live performance and other ventures, I came to find out there was an entire community dedicated to mermaid fandom! These lovely merfolk saw the items I made for myself for some of my own costuming projects, and began to request that I sell my designs to the general public. That’s how Siren’s Grotto was born. I had also been taking private wig commissions for some time, so I soon added a wig section to my shop, and the combined response for both my wigs and my mermaid accessories has just been phenomenal! I feel so blessed. A few months after starting up my shop, I was able to quit my “day job” to perform, and create my mermaid merch full time! (The mermaid inspiration has since expanded to other fantasy creatures and characters too, as you can see in my work for Wands Make Waves).
You are widely known on youtube and within cosplay communities for your amazing portrayals as Disney Princesses, Do you have a favourite fairytale? and why is it your favourite tale?
I love so many of the classic fairy tales (and the Disney retellings of course!) but The Little Mermaid is my favorite fairy tale hands down. I do tend to prefer the Disney version of it. I’m a happy endings kind of girl, but even the original Hans Christian Anderson story caught my attention as a child, and I remember reading and re-reading the tragic tale from one of my illustrated storybooks. I think I loved that story as a kid because the idea of a mermaid sacrificing herself for a human’s unreturned love was so fascinating to me. But I truly fell in love with Disney’s film, The Little Mermaid, because I saw so much of myself, and who I wanted to be in Disney’s Ariel. I really related to her, and her singing voice, above all else, stood out to me. Jodi Benson’s voice drew me in, and ever since I first saw it, that movie in particular has inspired me in my own music and singing style.
Who is your favourite Fairytale Villain and why? (Disney or in literature)
I’m gunna go with Disney for this Q. I absolutely LOVE Ursula and Maleficent. (Ursula, the sea witch from The Little Mermaid, and Maleficent, the evil fairy from Sleeping Beauty). Ursula is like the eccentric, theatrical aunt you wish you had growing up, who keeps the family parties interesting! You know she’s a bit off…manipulative and selfish, but you just can’t help but like her! And Maleficent is the opposite. She’s just pure evil, with no indication there was ever a good soul in her. You love her because you love to hate her…and she is beautiful, in a very creepy way. And let’s not forget she turns into a giant, bad@$$ firebreathing dragon at the end! Win!
(one of the hair pieces Traci made for our ocean fairy, incorporating swarovski crystals, pearls, starfish and sea shells.)
As a character performer you portray princess’s on a regluar basis. Princesses are known for being graceful. What other qualities do you think are important for a princess to embody?
I think kindness and patience, especially towards children, are qualities that every princess must embody. Also a cheerful demeanour, a well put together ensemble, a smiling, well made up face…and a beautiful singing voice can’t hurt either! (-; When I perform as princess characters, I focus much of my performance on singing and music. The reason I gravitated so much toward Disney and animated films when I was a child (and even now) was because I loved the music so much. I try to bring that same magic nostalgia to the events I perform at too!
You’re famous for your brilliantly authentic portrayal of The Little Mermaid, do you have any other favourite fairytale characters that you like to play?
I have so many characters I absolutely love to portray! I don’t think I’ve portrayed a character yet that I don’t like. Little Mermaid is of course my favorite, and the one I get the most overwhelming response from, but some of my favorites aside from that redheaded mermaid are Alice in Wonderland, Giselle (from Enchanted) Peter Pan, Belle/Beauty (from Beauty and the Beast), Tinkerbell, Snow White, Jasmine (from Aladdin) and Cinderella. My gosh don’t make me choose…it’s way too hard! (-; There are more too…I could go on for days!
Your character costumes and accessories are stunning, do you make them all yourself?
Thank you! I create all my own wigs, and I have made a couple of my own character costumes, but generally I like to work with designers to create the perfect gown/fin/pixie outfit, etc! Some of the costumes I’ve worn in the past were made for me by designers, to wear while working for character companies, and some I’ve played a role in designing along with the designer to get the exact costume of my dreams! Each costume has a different story, so feel free to pick my brain about any one in particular! My specialty is the transformation above the collar, using makeup and designing wigs. In my experience, you can have an amazing costume, but if the wearer doesn’t take care with their makeup or wig/hair, the effect is lost. A low quality wig can make an expensive costume look cheap, and likewise, a high quality wig and makeup job can make even the cheapest costume look impressive. Ideally though, all the elements will be there to make the performer look magical overall! I’m a makeup artist as well as a designer and performer, so that does come in handy when I need some dramatic transformations! I’m not a great seamstress, so I don’t do a lot of sewing. I focus on accessories, mermaid tops and wigs. I love customizing things though with ornate detail work. I’m a very detail-oriented person, so I can hand-sequin for days, or bedazzle a costume until your eyes fall out of your head from the sparkle!
With singing, songwriting, performing, modelling and making public appearances it’s amazing how you find the time to remain so dedicated to the Grotto. As busy as you are you continue to create so many pieces, all of which are beautiful and intricate. Your Etsy store has been so successful that you have people queuing up for custom orders, how do you keep up with everything?
Thank you! I’m afraid it has been extremely difficult keeping up. I do the best I can, but my customers generally do have to wait a bit longer to to hear back from me when they inquire, and to receive their items, because with the amount of messages I get and the level of busy I’m at with everything else I do, there isn’t any other way for me to give faster service at this time. I do take great care in estimating wait times, so customers are aware of the extended production period. My music does take priority, so I do have to turn down orders much of the time, but it means so much that the interest is there. I’m very glad to be able to cater to the amount of customers that I do. And those customers also get the satisfaction of knowing that I only work with a select few due to my schedule, so they’re getting an item that is not mass produced, but rather, made couture, according to their preferences and what will flatter them most. I’m working on ways for 2013 to revamp my processes to be quicker, and to bring in new, ready to ship items that can be more steadily available, even when my schedule becomes busy.