Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Hairing a model horse, part one

There was a time when most custom models were haired, but now it's become something of a lost art. This is a shame. As much as I love a good sculpted mane and tail, nothing looks more like hair than actual hair. In today's three part, Tutorial Tuesday guest post, Jennifer Kroll shows us how to add flowing locks to your model. Thank you so much, Jen!

Hairing a Model Horse, Part One: The Mane

by Jennifer Kroll

My first step is actually to pull the mohair from the hank, and blend the colors I want together. Since I didn't get pictures of that this time, I will add some when I start the tail. This particular horse has a blend of four different browns, black and natural white.

I use Fabri-Tac fabric glue for hairing. It's waterproof, clear, and durable. It will remove acrylic paint if you are rubbing it into the horse so you need to be a little careful. It is kind of rubbery, and you need to keep the end of the bottle clean as you go.

Also, mix and prepare more hair than you think you will need and dress appropriately. You will have hair glued to you. It's just part of the process.
I put some clear packaging tape across my desk. This keeps the glue from sticking and gives me a nice clean surface to work on.

For manes I usually cut the mohair in half, but it would depend on the length you want the finished product to be. I run a line of Fabri-Tac glue down the length of the tape and then push the cut ends of the mohair into it, essentially gluing the hair to the tape.
I peel the mohair off the tape and trim the cut end so that the glued section is only about 1/4" wide on the end.
Then I snip the lengths of glued hair into small chunks about 1/4-1/8" wide depending on the width of the hair bed along the crest of the neck. On a foal or thin maned horse I might want it on the narrow end of that. On a thickly maned pony you might even want to go wider. These will be folded in half so you want it twice the width of your horse's mane.
I continue separating the mane bits down your entire length of glued mohair.
Next, I fold each glue end in half. If you do this part quickly, the glue should still be tacky enough to stick to itself. If it doesn't, you can put a tiny dab of glue in it when you glue it to the horse.
This piece is now ready to be sorted by length.
I sort your sections by length if needed. If I arn doing a horse with a pinto or appaloosa pattern and need to match the mohair with the markings, I will also sort by color.
Piles of sorted strands, ready to go to the next step.
Now I will descide which pieces to start with. I usually use a few of the shorter bits at the wither area. Then I take my scissors and trim the corners off of the glued end, so that the glue is only as long as it needs to be to hold the hair strands together. It should form a V or U shape depending on how you want to trim it.
I glue the first piece to the withers so that the hair is flowing down towards the tail, and off to whichever side I want to have the mane hang. For a heavy double mane that flows in both directions, you can have it go straight back and split it or you can alternate, which is my preference. I find it handy to premark the start and stop points as well as a line up the crest to follow.
I continue overlapping the bits of hair slightly so that when I pull them over to the side, there is no gap. The Fabri-Tac has some give even after it's on the horse, and does not set completely for twelve to twenty four hours.
I continue up the crest.
When I reach the end of the mane, I switch to the forelock, repeating the same process but with the mane flowing down towards the nose. If the bridle path is very short you can continue the mane all the way to the ears.
 This horse has a long bridle path. My method for this is to take a longer unglued section of mohair and twist it tightly leaving the ends free. I run a line of glue down the bridle path and then put the twisted part of the hair down on it. I add some more glue under the ends near where the forelock and mane begin. I also use a toothpick or other pointy tool to put a little more glue along the edges, sticking it down firmly.
And there we have a mane. It still needs styling and thinning, but I will tackle that after the tail is on. I will also glue the area behind the ears down a little more.
I'll do the tail next!

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