Friday, January 18, 2019

Hairing With Mohair - Part 2, Installation

Once you have the hair swatches made, installation is pretty straight-forward. The method shown below is for a closed shell. Open shell installation is the same as that for nylon hair, though you could get away with using PVA or Tacky glue instead of the hot glue.

  • Hair swatches (two of around 4-6 inches wide)
  • Scissors
  • Toothpicks
  • Glue (in something with a fairly fine point)

I call my glue applicator "The Squeezy Thing", which I picked up on a whim in The Range. After a lot of Google trial and error, I found similar products by searching "accordion bottle", "glue injector", and "glue squeeze bottle". The particular type I have I was mostly only finding on American sites, though. I remember having a whole basket of these in the late '80s/early '90s when puff paint ruled the kid fashion world.

The main trick to hair installation is trying to keep things dry. Too much glue and it will start bubbling up when you push your plugs in and can also soften the dry glue on the plug, causing your hair plug to swell, which makes it ever so much harder to jam the thing into a small slit.

1. Select a hair swatch and measure it on your horse's neck. The Magpie molds have a pin just behind their ears, so your swatch is going to stop there. I prefer having a bridle path, so this doesn't bother me.

Once you have a rough measurement of how long the swatch needs to be (it's okay to have it a little long, carefully cut down through the glue tab. Just cut through the tab, there's no need to cut any of the rest of the hair. Set your mane tab aside and pick up the left-over swatch.

2. From your scrap swatch, cut a piece around half an inch wide. Flip it over to the underside (the shiny, slick side) and put a dot of glue near one edge, just a tiny drop. Fold the hair tab in half, then fold it in half again (you don't have to use glue this time). Remember we want things to stay dry.

4. Set your tiny hair plug aside and grab your horse. Insert the tip of the glue applicator into the forehead of your horse and give a little squeeze. You want to lay a plug of glue just inside the hair slit on the head, trying to get a little on the inside edges of the opening.

Next, insert your tiny hair plug, don't be afraid to just shove it right in. The plug is much longer than you need, so it's either trim it or tuck it away. Make some adjustments so the plug is pointing somewhat forward rather than straight up as this makes styling easier later.

After you've got the hair in, turn the model around and give your new forelock a little squirt of glue where the plug goes into the neck - at the back of the plug, behind the ears, not in the front on the face. This helps secure things.

5. Now onto the mane. Insert the tip of your glue applicator into the neck slit, starting just behind the ears. If your applicator doesn't fit, just press the mouth of it to the neck slit. Squeezing gently, draw a line of glue from the ears to the withers, wiping with a finger any glue which overflows onto the outer part of the neck. You want a healthy show of glue up to the edges as most of this will get pushed inside.

Starting at the base of the neck, insert your mane plug by sliding the tip into the neck slit. As you can see, my plug is a little long, that's okay, you just apply a bit of gentle pressure along the plug and sort of wrinkle the excess in. This makes your hair a little fuller, but not too much, as a thick mane is difficult to style.

If you are working with smaller plugs, simply poke them in one after another, working from the base of the neck up.

Use a toothpick to gently push the plug in, making sure that the glued part of the plug, or "scalp" as I call it, is fully within the shell. Resist the urge to wiggle or style the hair just now. Set the model aside and take up your other hair swatch.

6. For the tail, take your other hair swatch, turn it so the shiny, smooth side of the glue is up (this is the underside of the hair swatch). Roll your hair into a fairly tight tube and measure the plug end against your model's tail hole. If it's a little large, and trust me, bigger is not better in this case, snip off a bit of the swatch and try again. It is easier to roll a small tab of hair into your tail plug if it's too small than it is to jam an over-large plug into your model.

7. Once you're satisfied with the fit, roll your plug out flat and dot some glue along the length of the "scalp" section (the dried glue part). Just dot it, you only need a little and we're keeping things dry. Roll your swatch up again, very tightly. I will often at this point pinch the end with a clothes pin and leave the plug to dry before going further with the installation.

8. Set your tail plug aside and pick up your model and glue applicator. Insert the tip into the tail hole and squeeze a good big glort into your model. You're not going to fill the shell with glue, but you want to build up a good plug just inside the tail hole, rubbing a bit on the inside edges of the mold.

Once you're all gluey, slowly insert your tail plug; you want to push the glue in, not see it bubble out over the dry hair. You may need to twist the plug a bit and press quite hard. Don't be afraid to be firm, but be mindful of your paintwork. Push until the "scalp" of the plug is completely inside the model.

9. Set your model aside to dry for a few hours and gloat over a job well done. Resist the urge to mess with the hair until it is dry! Go and make some more hair plugs or read a book.

Once the glue is completely dry, you can gently style the hair with a bit of water and strategic wrapping. This is the time, also, to do any trimming which might be needed.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Hairing with Mohair - Part 1, Making the Hair Swatches

Everyone has their own technique for hairing a model, this is the process I use.

  • Mohair (I buy mine from Horsing Around)
  • Glue (PVA or Tacky)
  • Rigid plastic sheet of some sort (I use take-away box lids)
  • Scissors
  • Something to spread glue - popsicle stick or plastic glue spready thing (you can find them in the children's art section in many stores)

1. Select your hair colour and remove it from the package. (At this point I get a larger zip baggie, peel the label off the bag the hair came in and stick it on the zip baggie and use that instead as I can never get the hair back into those tube baggies)

Grasp the hair hank firmly in one hand with the end dangling out. Pinch the end of the hair and gently pull out a small swatch. This allows the fibers to come apart in their natural lengths and reduces waste. Lay the swatch on the table and pull a few more, making a neat pile of hair. For me, I usually take five or six pulls for a mane or tail.

2. Leave your hair for a moment and get your plastic sheet, I like take-away box lids. Draw a line of glue on the surface; stay away from the edge or you'll get a mess.

3. Carefully pick up your hair pile, trying not to disturb the hair too much. Grasp it firmly and cut one end evenly. Discard hair scraps or save them for flocking material.

4. Separate the hair swatch in half. Feather the cut end out a bit so it's not in clumps and lay the cut end onto the glue line you just drew. Don't worry about pressing it down, just lay it on softly. Do the same with the rest of your hair.

5. Now the tricky part, getting things gluey. Carefully press your hand firmly down on the hair, near the edge of your plastic surface. Take your spreading tool of choice and start drawing it over the ends of the hair, pulling away from your hand, through the glue. Don't be afraid to press, you want to force the hair into the glue, saturating the hair and pressing it as flat as possible.

6. If you are wanting to add layered colours or stripes, repeat the steps above, placing the new hair on the existing layer. Add a few drops of glue to the top of the new layer, press your hand back down on the dry hair section, and spread the new glue through the hair.

7. Set the hair aside to dry. I like to use the radiator to speed up the process in the winter. You'll know it's dry when the glue goes clear.

8. Gently peel the hair swatch from the plastic. Don't worry if it doesn't come in one piece, it's not essential to have it all in one strip.

9. Cut the end of the glue tab off evenly. Leave a good half to quarter of an inch of glue all along the length of your swatch.

10. Finally, you need to lightly comb the swatch to remove the loose hair. I find a soft surface works best; your leg is always handy. You're going to lose some hair, so don't worry.